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A Timber Frame Home for Forever

Tips for Designing a Timber Frame Home for Retirement: Single Levels and Universal Design

Kalamazoo Residence, Single Level Living in a Timber Frame Home

It is not a secret that moving around gets a bit harder as we get older. If you are building a timber frame home to spend your retirement, whether you plan to retire tomorrow or in twenty years, forethought and preparation for the physical changes that occur in later in life will allow you to enjoy your timber home for longer.

Single Level Living

One of the major obstacles in homes is stairs. They can be difficult to get up or down, especially if you have to carry something. While you can retrofit stairs with lifts, it is easy to eliminate stairs altogether during the design process. If you have all the aspects of a home you need for day-to-day living on the same level (entry, bedroom & bathroom, kitchen, and laundry), stairs become obsolete.
Essential single level spaces

Containing your layout on a single level can be a smart choice. However, large ranch-style homes may not be feasible due to your property size or your budget. In these cases, there are practical reasons for including a basement or second floor.

Basements can give you the square footage you need for guest rooms, an office, or game room. They also work well on sloped sites and are a cost-effective way to gain the space you need.

Second floors are another great way to add square footage for a hobby room, bunk room, or storage. Since timber frames have naturally vaulted spaces, you can carve a loft into the space that is already in your home’s design.

If a basement or second floor is primarily used for something you will not need to visit on a regular basis, then these spaces are great additions for your retirement home.

Universal Design

Stairs are an obvious and predictable pain point in a home; however, you might consider planning for the unexpected too. While we do not imagine ourselves using a walker or wheelchair, the longer we live in our home the more likely we or a loved one may need special accommodations. To avoid costly renovations down the line, you may choose to design your home according to universal design principles.

single level grandview floor planUniversal design is a concept of creating buildings that are accessible to all people, regardless of their mobility. Creating wider doorways and hallways is one of the most popular practices of universal design. The wider width can better accommodate wheelchairs but are also handy for navigating through with a large laundry basket.

A timber frame home’s strong structure makes openness one of its inherent properties. Since many timber frame homes do not require the use of interior load-bearing walls, it is easy to create spaces where anyone can maneuver.

Other aspects of universal design include:

  • no-step entries,
  • level thresholds between different types of flooring,
  • sinks at varying heights and roll-in showers,
  • appliances and environmental controls at central heights to limit bending down or reaching up.

While planning for future health challenges may be uncomfortable, these design elements are a must have for retirement living.

Building a timber frame home for retirement, or secondary home that will become a primary residence, is common among Riverbend’s clients. Visit our selection of floor plans perfect for retirement to learn how you can adjust a timber frame home’s layout so you can live in it for many years to come.


Mountain Timber Frame Homes in 2018

Mountain-style timber frame homes blend into North America’s many landscapes. This architectural style reflects the rustic homes of the mountains, from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Characteristics of mountain-style timber frame homes include features that take advantage of panoramic views, capitalize on frequently sloped lots, and create seamless indoor-outdoor living. Ideal for modern living, mountain-style homes are built in many different types of settings.

Today, we are featuring three mountain timber frame homes that are scheduled to break ground within the next year. We are excited to see these homeowners’ dreams come to life with the timeless tradition of timber framing.

Timber Frame Home for a Large FamilyEdmon

Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Timber Raising Scheduled: December 2017
Custom Home Design
Square Feet: 6,896

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • Prominent exterior timber framing
  • Four bay garage with dedicated ATV bay
  • Large outdoor living areas, including a wrap around deck
  • Screened porch with double sided fireplace
  • Walk out basement
  • Private office and homework nooks

Secluded Timber Frame Retreat

Location: Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Timber Raising Scheduled: May 2018
Home Design Inspired by the Mayson
Square Feet: 3,146

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • Prow window
  • Walkout basement with flex space
  • Elevator
  • Covered deck and patio
  • Timber frame portico
  • Second floor dedicated to master suite

Chattahoochee River Valley Timber Frame Home

Georgia Timber Frame Home

Location: Columbus, Georgia
Timber Raising Scheduled: July 2018
Home Inspired by the Mountain View
Square Feet: 3,224

Architectural & Floor Plan Features:

  • King post timber frame trusses
  • Stone accents
  • Covered patio with fireplace
  • Three-car garage
  • Loft
  • Bonus space over garage
  • Master suite on main floor

If you are inspired by these custom home designs, explore our mountain-style timber frame home designs.

Want to break ground on your timber frame home in 2018? Learn more about our design process or contact us to start your dream home today.

Meet Riverbend in Person at an Event

While technology, like email and video calls, has made communication easier and more effective than ever, nothing can replace meeting the team who may help you build your dream timber frame home in person for some.

Riverbend Timber Framing offers many ways to meet your Client Representative, discuss your project, and get the information you need.

Home Planning Seminars

Twice a year, Riverbend holds a Home Planning Seminar at our Michigan office and timber frame shop. The half day event includes an informative presentation that covers all aspects of designing and building a timber frame home. Topics range from the materials used to build a timber frame home to our architectural design and construction services. Riverbend Client Representatives will be available to answer questions and discuss your project. In addition, they will also lead tours of Riverbend’s shop and a nearby timber frame home.

Where: Riverbend Timber Framing Headquarters, Michigan.
When: Twice yearly, Spring & Fall.
How to Attend: See when our next Home Planning Seminar is scheduled & request more information.


Timber Frame Home Raisings

Raisings are an exciting opportunity to see the beauty of a timber frame home. Meet your Client Representative on site for a tour and have your questions answered about the details of timber frame construction. Your safety while onsite is our top concern, so appointments are required.

Where: Across North America.
When: As they occur.
How to Attend: If you would like to see a timber frame raised, contact your Riverbend Client Representative to schedule an appointment at a private raising near you. Raisings open for visitors will be posted on Riverbend’s Event Page.

Client Representative Travel

Client Representatives frequently travel from our headquarters and regional offices to meet future timber frame home owners. Representatives hold personal meetings, Home Planning Seminars, and attend home shows across North America. Representatives are happy to review floor plan ideas or offer advice on your future home’s site placement at meetings. Seminars are great for gathering the information you need about designing and building your new timber frame home.

Where: Across North America.
When: Year-round.
How to Attend: Check our Event Page frequently for upcoming travel events. If you do not see an event near you, request to be notified of future events in your area.


Usually, Riverbend Client Representatives are able to travel to most locations throughout the year. However, if you are ready to start the design process, feel free to request a personal site visit to kick off your project.

French Country Timber Frame Homes

Throughout the years, television and movies have romanticized the look of French Country architecture. The style first became popular in North America in the 1920s and 1930s, and remains a mainstream motif for new homes, including timber frame homes, today.

History of French Country Architecture

After World War I, soldiers stationed in France returned and began building homes resembling the countryside manors they saw.

Image Used Under Creative Commons License

What became known in North America as French Country architecture is actually a blend of rural home styles from many different provinces in France. The styles range from formal to rustic; however, most homes today use features from both ends of the spectrum.

Image by Gina Paulucci. Used under Creative Commons License

On the formal end of the range is Provincial architecture. French nobles built the historic Provincial homes in the 1600’s under the reign of Louis XVI. The bold lines of the stately chateaus make quite an impression in contrast with the French landscape. Typically, the homes are two stories, and have a square footprint and symmetrical details on the front elevation. Dormer windows, often arched, that rise out of the second story roof line are a distinguishing hallmark.

The warmer, more rustic, side of French Country architecture hails from the farmlands of Normandy. Here farmers honed the beauty of informal living. Charming half-timbered homes are reminiscent of storybook cottages. Traditional homes in the French countryside are also known for their towers which were originally grain silos attached to the main living quarters. While the homes of Normandy use arched windows, much like Provincial homes, their front elevation is often asymmetrical.

Defining French Country Architecture

Modern French Country style combines Provincial, Normandy and architectural characteristics from other rural provinces. This architectural style is flexible in creating both dramatic and charming homes that are recognizable using just a few of its defining characteristics:

  • Hipped roof shape, where all sides of the roof slope down to meet the walls
  • Steep roof with varied height rooflines
  • Exterior timber details, interior wood beams, or exposed timber structure
  • Use of curves in architectural details, including dormers, doorways, and timber trusses
  • Brick, stone, stucco exteriors, often mixed together
  • Curved windows, small windows, and window shutters

French Country Timber Frame Homes Today

Since timber framing has been a traditional building method of building in France since the 1400s, it is fitting to pair timber framing with the French Country architectural style. Both the elegance of the Provincial style and the rustic warmth of Normandy home’s can be achieved with timber framing.

Over the years, Riverbend has been involved in helping many clients create their dream French Country timber frame home. We even have several of them to inspire you in our photo gallery.







Are you ready to say Oui  to a timber frame home inspired by this classic style? Explore our French Country design concepts.

What is the Difference between Stock Plans and Conceptual Designs?

While you are browsing magazines or websites, you are likely to find timber frame plans that almost match your vision. Some plans you see are stock plans while others are conceptual designs. So, what is the difference between these types of floor plans? How can choosing one over the other affect your timber frame home project?

Stock Timber Frame Home Floor Plans

Stock plans, in general, are pre-drawn floor plans. They are meant to be taken off the shelf and built ‘as-is’. Some timber frame home companies offer stock plans so they can quickly manufacture a preconceived ‘kit’ for you. There is no ‘design phase’ when using a stock plan. Since the manufacturing process can begin as soon as you make your selection, you can break ground at almost the same time.

Many homeowners want to modify a stock plan to turn it into the perfect timber frame home. However, the ability to make minor modifications to a stock plan depends on each company. If you are looking at a stock plan and are envisioning changes, ask the company what kind of customization is actually possible. Companies with only draftsmen may be limited to non-structural changes such as moving a non-load bearing wall or changing the size of a window opening.

In addition, many stock plans are not adequate for building sites that need complex grading or foundation work. In these cases, you may need to hire a third-party to alter the plans for your site. This adds additional costs to your project.

Timber Frame Home Conceptual Designs

A few timber frame companies anticipate that you will want to customize their floor plans to create your ideal timber frame home. Plans they show in their advertising and on their websites are conceptual designs. These designs are meant to inspire you and serve as a starting point for your home’s design. The conceptual designs are customized to meet your needs.

So, what changes can you make to a conceptual timber frame home design?

First, you will need to check with the company to learn about their design capabilities and qualifications. For example, Riverbend’s in-house design firm employs degreed architects who specialize in, and understand the complexities of, timber frame structures. Their education and experience allow them to make extensive customization to the timber frame itself. In addition, they understand how every change impacts the overall home design.

Two different styles of timber framing within Riverbend’s Tuscany Floor Plan

With Riverbend’s in-house design group, the only limits to your future timber frame home’s design are your imagination, engineering and safety regulations, and your budget. Clients frequently take a conceptual timber frame home design and:

  • Add or subtract square footage.
  • Add a walk-out basement.
  • Change the look and feel of the interior timber framing.
  • Modify the design’s roof line to change its style.
  • Take favorite parts of several floor plans and combine them into one.

Regardless of the changes you make to the plan, at Riverbend, the initial design of your home will only take approximately four to six weeks. This is a small addition to your design and construction timeline to achieve the exact home you are envisioning. Click here to learn more about how you can customize a timber frame home design.

What if I have not found a stock plan or conceptual design I like?

Riverbend Timber Framing’s in-house design group can create your home design from scratch. We can take any ideas, napkin sketches, or images you have collected as inspiration and make your custom home design. Creating a custom design takes the same amount of time as modifying one of our design concepts, approximately four to six weeks. Learn more about Riverbend’s design process.