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Building A Post and Beam: 5 Tips to Keep Costs Down

Post and Beam homes are typically expected to cost more than a 2×4 “stick built” home.  The reasons for this are many and varied, with the main ones being the cost of the high quality wood timber frame versus inexpensive wood studs, superior insulation, and the typical use of large glass areas.  That being said, there are many ways you can keep the cost of a post and beam home down while maintaining the feel of a timber frame home.  Before starting the design process you need to know your budget and keep it in mind as you navigate the course of the building process.

A rectangle shape structure is cost effective to build.

A rectangle shape structure is cost effective to build.

5 Tips to Keep Costs Down:

1)     Keep it simple!  The least expensive home, per square foot, to build is a basic 2 story rectangle.  Single story structures, ells, dormers, or any type of bump-out are going to add to the cost per square foot.

This shape is extremely effecient.

This shape is extremely efficient.

2)     Forget the cathedral ceiling.  They may add character to your home, but you are using (and paying for) large volumes of space.  Instead of a cathedral ceiling great room, try putting a 10’ or 12’ ceiling over this space.  You will still have a feeling of volume in the great room, but the space above is additional usable square footage.

This great room looses nothing by not not having a cathedral ceiling.

This great room looses nothing by not not having a cathedral ceiling.

Higher ceilings and open areas negate the need for a vaulted ceiling.

Higher ceilings and open areas negate the need for a vaulted ceiling.

3)    Build a “hybrid”.  A hybrid design may use a true post and beam frame for the main living areas (great room, kitchen, dining room), while using partial or no timber frame in the rest of the structure.  You may find you don’t need the posts showing in bedrooms which will save money.

These homeowners chose a hybrid post and beam look; putting the beams where they most wanted to see them.

These homeowners chose a hybrid post and beam look; putting the beams where they most wanted to see them.

4)   Choose drywall for ceilings and walls instead of the more expensive tongue and groove wood planks.  Or use the wood planks on select main areas of your home.

An example of drywall used on both the ceiling and the walls of a post and beam home.

An example of drywall used on both the ceiling and the walls of a post and beam home.

5)    Make informed decisions on interior finishes.  The important goal to remember is you want to build a quality post and beam home with “good bones.”  You don’t have to complete everything at once. Prioritize your list of “must haves” and decide what should be installed as you build and what can be done or upgraded at a later date.

A lovely kitchen/breakfast nook put together without breaking the homeowner's budget.

A lovely kitchen/breakfast nook put together without breaking the homeowner’s budget.

This small rectangular home lives large with the later addition of a wrap-around porch and attached garage.

This small rectangular home lives large with the later addition of a wrap-around porch and attached garage.

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12 Responses to Building A Post and Beam: 5 Tips to Keep Costs Down

  1. Robert F. Whiteley, CMA, CRA December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Fantastic advice. I’ve appraised all manner of homes for over forty years. There is more information in these five paragraphs than I’ve seen in some books.
    assessor@cityofbelfast.org

    • beambabe December 14, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Wow! Thanks for the compliment, Robert! We try very hard to keep it short and sweet while passing along any and all useful information.
      BeamBabe

  2. Mike Ruschell May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Interested in simple timber frame, appx 3200 sq ft; rectangular shape, domers on roof, two full stories. I own land but have not cleared so still in “research” stage. Thanks.
    Mik

    • BeamBabe May 17, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      Hi Mike
      Good luck with your research. We hope you’ll include Yankee Barn Homes in your search as we offer many options, particularly those with a rectangular footprint. It’s amazing how many different ways you can go with that simple shape!
      Best – BeamBabe

  3. Dan Engel October 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    I hit on your site today. I think it’s the second time for Yankee but the site is different.
    Knocked my socks off. Your site shows what can be done to a simple barn home to make it a castle. The 5 tips on keeping costs down are now my rule of thumb.
    I am in the process of looking for property in the Trinity Lakes area of northern California and have Yankee tops on my list when I find what I’m looking for. Do you service n. cal??

    Blowen away,

    Dan

    • BeamBabe October 23, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Dan,
      Yes we absolutely DO build in CA! We have numerous homes there, as well as a vineyard building and a Christian Monk House of Worship. How’s that for diversity? And, all in your state! Please do keep us in mind. We’d love to work with you whenever you’re ready!
      BeamBabe

    • Abraham Kryger February 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

      I want to build a small cottage under 1000 sq ft. Do you have any designs for smaller , simple houses?

      • BeamBabe February 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

        Yes, we can build in any design, any size. I will send your contact info to our staff. You should be hearing from someone shortly. Please let me know if I may be of further assistance. BeamBabe

  4. Nate S. December 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Great information in a clear concise presentation. We have old Yankee plans that we are dusting off and thinking about moving towards our dream in the near future. We have always been blown away by the charm of these homes. Its nice to hear that there are ways to build what we want without breaking the bank.

    • BeamBabe December 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks, Nate! We’re thrilled to hear you’ve hung on to those plans, and any time you’re ready, we’d love to hear from you!

  5. roberta newberry April 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    We lost our barn to a fire this winter looking at options and costs of building a new one the 1 1/2 story one looks great–what do I need to know?

    • BeamBabe April 25, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      Hi Roberta,
      I’m so sorry to hear of your fire. I can put you in touch with just the person who can give you all the info you’ll need to know – Jennifer Hastings. I’ll pass along your request; you should hear from her soon. Thanks for the inquiry, BeamBabe

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