Photo date: October 21, 2022. See header image archive.

architecture



Timber Frame Rationale, and First Look at Our Version

One look at the MVC floor plan and even a casual observer could see that we're doing timber frame construction. (The posts are a dead giveaway.)

I didn't get exposed to timber framing until way too late in life, and now I wouldn't consider stick frame construction for anything, even a shed. Every day I bike by all these massive new stick frame additions and new stick frame construction here in Edina and after I say, "Gross!" — usually in reference to the already dated, cheesy-ass architecture — I next ask myself, "Why?"

Even putting aside timber framing's subjective superiority over stick frame, like its clean, simple, organic, timeless, rugged, and sturdy appearance, it's *objectively* more practical and better than stick frame in three important ways:

  • They can be cut offsite. In a controlled environment, with precision, *before you even own a piece of property*, then shipped to the building site. I don't care if it's Larry Haun's Ghost doing the stick framing; he still can't do it offsite.
  • They can be erected quickly. While the MVC is small — just 36x24 — the Big River Timberworks (BRT) crew will put up the frame *and fully enclose it in SIPs* in 5 days. Let's call the frame erection half of that; 2.5 days. Stick framing is measured in weeks.
  • They don't have structural interior walls. I've laid out interior walls on the floor plan, but this is all still pretty flexible, for the most part, and they're all partition walls. Nothing is load-bearing. Nothing is critical. I can put an interior wall anywhere, and when I goof it up, I can put it somewhere else, no problem. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but unless you use trusses, stick frame will have an interior load-bearing wall.

Onto the specifics about our frame:

  • Port Orford Cedar. All my previous — and very limited — experience is with EWP (Eastern White Pine), which is readily available, cheap, and easy to work with, but I hate how it yellows over time. Thanks to BRT, I got turned onto Port Orford Cedar, which grays over time. Please don't judge our carbon impact having timbers shipped from Coos Bay, Oregon, but we far prefer POC over EWP, and really all the other timber options we looked at.
  • No braces. Timber frame purists might scoff at our frame, but a brace-free design really cleans things up, pretty dramatically. Again thanks to BRT for pointing us in this direction.
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For a few days I thought I could cut this frame myself over time, in my garage, but after practicing this rather advanced joinery (for me) on some scraps, I gave up. 4 hours yielded this sad-looking post. At this pace we would have the MVC when I'm dead.

See full-size image

First Look: Floor Plan

The best space in our current Minneapolis house is this den. We spend countless hours here in front of a fire watching Dateline, 48 Hours, and 20/20. On network.

The 🐕 🐕 love it, too.

The coziest room in all of Edina. See full-size image

A key objective of the MVC (Minimum Viable Cottage) is to recreate this space, except with a view of Lake Michigan. On paper it's somewhat of a success. Our current den is 12' x 13' with an 8"6" ceiling. The den on this floor plan is 12"4" x 11' with an 8"6" ceiling (once the loft is built).

See full-size image

Taking two feet from such a small room turns out to be a 15% reduction, but it's not a "hard" 11 feet because there isn't a rear wall. At least this is the rationalization I am going with.

The rest of the floor plan needs a lot of work, but it's pretty simple: 1 bedroom, 2 baths, 2 lofts (not shown yet), galley kitchen, laundry/mechanical room, puzzle table, and 3 garage doors to the western (view) elevation. Much more to come.

Everyone has an opinion on floor plans. Lay them on me: dack@dack.com

First Look: Topographic With Volumes

Here's the first look at the parcel, with the property lines and dead-end road draped on the topographic, and the three volumes placed about where I think they'll go.

The first build, which we are trying to get started in summer 2023, is the 36'x24' structure on the far left of the image (the northernmost volume). This is an "expandable house plan," where we will add on the larger 72'x24' house and the 30'x24' garage later, and everything will be connected via conditioned breezeways.

We just need to get a place up there ASAP, and a MVC — Minimum Viable Cottage — is the fastest, most direct route. Plus, we'll (hopefully) make all of our biggest mistakes on a very small house.

The long property lines (~800 feet) run exactly east to west. This is a view to the northeast. See full-size image

In order to make this drawing, I had to painstakingly trace elevation lines from the Door County map, elevate each of them, and then in SketchUp choose Draw > Sandbox > From Contours. Then I placed the three volumes.

It took hours but was totally worth it. Having spent a fair amount of time on the parcel, the satellite elevations are incredibly accurate. I completely trust that what's on this drawing is what's in real life.

Please note the vintage Ford pickup that's in my future.

Also please note, this plot not only provides a pretty awesome view of Green Bay, but a challenging ⛷️ run as well.

Here is another view of the drawing, with the view. This is aiming due west, and the SketchUp horizon (the blue part) is the bay.

See full-size image