FAQ

What is post and beam construction?

Post and beam is a style of construction that allows you to see the supporting framework of the home.  The exposed wood makes a beautiful home that stands apart from conventional framing.  The amount of exposed wood can be changed to fit your personal preferences.  Pictures are the best way of explaining what it looks like, so we suggest looking through our designs.

How much does this cost?

The typical Habitat home is finished for between $150-250 per square foot (including our package cost). This figure will vary depending on the level of finish and the region of the country in which you are building. This cost per square foot average does not include site improvements such as septic, well, excavation, lot clearing, and driveway/landscaping.  Adding a garage, walkout (daylight basement) level, extra porches, and other design features such as natural stone fireplaces, walls full of windows, extra patio doors, etc., can increase the cost beyond these estimates..  Our package roughly makes up about $60 -$80/sq. ft. of the total cost.  More information can be found by going to our Pricing page.

Why use Habitat Post & Beam, Inc.?

In short, we offer exceptional services and materials at a reasonable cost.  Our employees have a tremendous amount of experience and will guide you in the right direction.  The average length of employment at Habitat is over 20 years!  Habitat has been in business since 1972.

Are these homes energy efficient and "green"?

Our homes' energy efficiency performs significantly better than conventionally framed homes.  You will use less energy to heat and cool your home, which reduces your monthly bills and decreases the home's environmental impact. In addition, the timbers used in our framing come from a family-owned forest and mill that has been successfully managed for generations.  Our high-quality homes are designed to last far longer than the average home, which also decreases the home's environmental footprint.  Most designs can be Energy Star and/or LEED certified.  Due to our factory-optimized production, there are very few wasted materials during the entire construction process.  Habitat's durable and environmentally sound building materials, along with your choice of sustainable interior finish materials, minimize your home's environmental impact.

What is the process of working with Habitat?

You can bring us a house design, find one on our Web site (we can completely customize any design), or we can start from scratch based on your input.  After preliminary estimates and your decision to proceed with our package, you will be provided a complete set of custom plans from which you or your builder will obtain permits.  We are happy to assist you in determining a builder to assemble our package and finish the home.  When the permitting process is complete, our workshop will begin building your kit package.  After the foundation and first floor system is installed by you or your contractor, our package is delivered.  Once assembly of our material package is complete, your building will be weather tight (it will look virtually finished on the outside).  Your builder and subcontractors continue to finish the interior.

What is included in your package?

Typically everything is included for a weather-tight shell, not including any masonry (foundation, chimneys, etc).  A local builder typically assembles our package and finishes the home.  Once assembly of our material package is complete, your building will look virtually finished on the outside.

What areas do you cover?

Our business radiates from our Western Massachusetts location and we are equipped to ship our packages within the 48 contiguous United States.  In general, we specialize in The greater Northeast region (Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire), but we have done many projects throughout the United States.

Do you have homes that we can view?

Our Showroom at our facility in South Deerfield, Massachusetts is especially useful, as it showcases our different framing systems so you can compare them side by side.  We always recommend a visit to our design office, workshop, and showroom if it's possible for you.  There is often a house under construction within a reasonable driving distance from our facility that we can bring you to, as well.  We periodically host open houses at homes that are either under construction or just finished, so please make sure any contact information you've submitted to us is up to date to receive notifications.  Check our Web site, www.postandbeam.com/all-events for the latest event posting, and our Facebook page for Events announcements.  Appointments to see customers' finished homes either in your area or near to our office are often possible.  We take our past customers' busy schedules and privacy very seriously, and for that reason we typically wait to schedule a private showing of a customer’s home until you're reasonably sure you've narrowed down your decision to work with us, and seeing another home in person would help you complete your decision.

Will your package be designed to work with my local building codes?

We will design your home so that it will pass local building codes.  Because building codes vary from region to region, we try to work with your building inspector ahead of time so that we can adapt any of their special requirements.  Our homes and additions are typically designed for 90 mph wind load and a 65 lb snow load.  If you live an area that has different requirements, we can make modifications to the package (such as increasing timber sizes) that will allow the design to work in your area.  Depending on the extent of these changes, there may be an additional material cost.

How long does it take?

From starting the design to being handed the keys, the process usually takes at least six months and about a year is common.  We typically return the first drawing and major revisions within two weeks of your initial commitment.  Smaller changes are typically done faster.  If you start with plans that are close to what you want and only need minor modifications, the total design process might take about a month, but some people like to take a year or more to fine tune the design.  The design process is open ended.  Also keep in mind that in some areas the permitting process can be quite lengthy.  After you approve the design and complete the contract, we can typically ship the package within six-to-eight weeks.  This is usually the amount of time the builder needs to dig, install the foundation and frame the first level floor system.  Depending on the house and the framing crew, the package is typically weather tight in four to six weeks.  Finishing the house varies widely depending on the general contractor, but it is rare to finish everything else in less than three months and six months is typical.

I already have a plan; will you give me a quote to make it post and beam?

Yes.  Ideally, we like to have 1/4"-scale floor plans and elevations - with those plans we can provide a very accurate estimate.  Alternatively we can price just about any plan, but the estimates become more vague as the plans get less detailed. 

How do I get started?

To begin exploring your building plans using Habitat (or if you have additional questions about continuing an existing project with us), please call us at 1-800-992-0121, come by during our normal business hours (M-F 9-5 and the first Saturday of every month from 9-2) and bring all of your ideas and site information (as detailed as possible), e-mail us with as much information as possible about your project and any previous contact with us, or fax in your information to 413/665-4008.  Please always include your building location, where you first learned about our company, and a phone number where we can contact you with our questions.  For more information about starting the design for your material package, please go to http://www.postandbeam.com/plans-starting

When are you open?

We are typically open from 9-5 Monday through Friday, and from 9-2 on the first Saturday of the month.  We recommend calling ahead so we can better prepare for you, but it is not required.  Please check our online calendar for more details, especially around holidays.  For information on our appearances at home shows or open houses, please go to http://www.postandbeam.com/all-events.  We also are happy to make appointments outside of these hours to better fit your schedule. 

How can I be satisfied that Habitat Post & Beam is a reputable company?

Habitat Post & Beam has supplied the materials for over 3,000 homes, additions and commercial buildings since its opening in 1972.  We are a member of the Better Business Bureau of Western Massachusetts, and are listed with Dun & Bradstreet.  Upon request we will be pleased to furnish you with names, addresses and phone numbers of our bank, supplier and previous client contacts.

Does Habitat offer any financing assistance?

We do not provide financing, but may be able to provide names of banks or other loan institutions in your area that our previous clients have used.  The most competitive lending rates are obtained through banks specializing in construction loans and permanent financing.  Some lenders advertise that they specialize in timber frame and/or log home construction loans.

Are you willing to give out names of past customers for referral purposes?

Habitat homeowners are very proud of their projects and welcome the opportunity to talk about them.  Please contact us for referral contact information, and see our feedback and testimonials page http://www.postandbeam.com/testimonial

What is the difference between timber frame and post and beam?

Post and Beam and Timber Frame are terms that are often used interchangeably; however, there are some technical differences between the two:  a Timber Frame structure typically has interlocking wood-to-wood joinery.  A Post and Beam features less complicated joinery, and typically uses hidden metal fasteners for additional strength.  Recently, more timber frames have included hidden metal fasteners, as engineers generally prefer the consistency of a metal-to-wood connection over a wood-to-wood connection.

The framing systems also differ regarding assembly.  Timber Frame structures are typically assembled in bents, which are entire cross sections of the structure that must be assembled and raised one bent at a time.  Often, these sizable bents require larger machinery, a larger crew, and specialized tools and knowledge.  Our Habitat Post & Beam package assembles in the same order as a conventionally framed structure (first floor walls, mid-floor, second floor walls, then roof), and most of the tools used are consistent with those used in conventional framing.  A Timber Frame structure will require a framer who is very experienced with Timber Frame construction, while our Post and Beam system allows easy assembly, with no specialized skills on the part of a framer who is accustomed to conventional construction.

Can Habitat assist with locating land?

Contact us today to discuss your building location We are in frequent contact with real estate companies and land developers in many areas throughout the country, and look forward to assisting you with your land search.

How do I find a house or addition plan that I like?

Habitat's web site and catalog feature standard plans that can be modified to suit your needs, as well as examples of projects that were completely custom designed as a starting point.  Many people bring us their ideas, photos, sketches and plans from their own research as a starting point for their own fully customized package.

Will Habitat work with my architect?

Habitat has worked together with independent architects and engineers, providing them with post and beam engineering and technical expertise for our mutual customers' projects.  If you already have an architect's plan, we would be pleased to collaborate with you and the architect on your project.  Please note that Habitat provides all plan drawings and revisions as part of our service, so an outside architect for developing your plans isn't typically necessary.

Will Habitat customize plans for my needs and at what cost? Who provides professional blueprints for local permits?

Part of our material package is your Habitat-provided custom design.  We work with you to create your own design based on your own ideas and/or the library of plans we have to offer.  Blueprints include custom floor plans, elevation plans, foundation plan and complete structural plans for assembly of Habitat Post & Beam material package that are typically needed for building permits.  Changes made to these plans are at no additional cost.  Our primary goal is to make certain that the final design fits the site, local building codes, and our client's needs.

How easy is it to make changes to the plans? What do changes cost?

Advanced CAD software programs allow us to redesign and modify most details very easily.  These changes can be sent to clients quickly by mail, fax or email to help expedite the design process.  We will generate custom plans based on your specific needs and make subsequent revisions to those plans, all at no extra cost.

How quick is the turnaround for designs, and how many revisions can be expected before a design is finalized?

New plans take about two-to-three weeks to generate.  Revisions generally take less time, depending on the complexity.  Two or three revisions are not unusual.  As many revisions are done as are necessary until you are satisfied.

I don't have experience reading blueprints. Are Habitat's plans easy to understand?

Our large-format printers and copiers are capable of producing full-color designs and renderings that are visually effective presentations.  Once floor plans and elevations are complete, a 3-D image is generated that allows the client to see the home with a more realistic perspective.  This is a very important visualizing tool that helps prevent mistakes in design and layout.

What kind of plan design programs do you use?

Habitat uses both AutoCAD® and Chief Architect® for designing, rendering and engineering.

Does Habitat design and manufacture packages for additions? What if my existing home isn't a post and beam?

Close to half of our material packages are for additions.  We will design an addition to your home that will not only meet your needs, but will look like it has always been a part of your home.  Our additions can be added to any type of home construction.  One exception may be that some existing home construction does not lend itself to adding a full timber frame above/on top of the existing structure (i.e., to make a top floor over an existing level).

What is included in your material package?

We include a custom design and a pre-cut material package kit for a weather-tight shell (when our material package is complete, your structure will appear finished from the outside; your contractors will continue to finish the inside), shipped to your site to be assembled on your prepared foundation by a local builder.  Habitat supplies a specific detailed list of materials supplied for each home and addition package.  A specification list can be found here http://www.postandbeam.com/package-includes.

Where do you ship your packages and what are the costs and conditions?

We ship anywhere within the contiguous 48 United States.  The shipping cost is included in your package price and is insured to your construction site.  Offloading and inventory of materials is done on site (or at a predetermined mainland point in the case of an island site) by you and/or your contractor.  We are often asked if we will ship outside of these parameters.  In such cases we would ship to the nearest border area/mainland port, and any further shipping considerations (trucking, permits, cost, taxes, etc.) would need to be arranged by the owner.

Who will construct my house?

The Habitat material package is shipped to your site, where it is offloaded and inventoried by you and/or your local contractor, to be assembled on your prepared foundation by a builder that you hire.  Habitat can work with you to help you find a framer, general contractor, etc., and in many areas we may have some suggestions for you.  The final decision as to who builds your home is yours.

Do I need an experienced timber frame builder? Can any builder construct your package?

Our building system is designed so that any competent builder can construct our package.  It is pre-notched, numbered and labeled for easy assembly.  Our pre-engineered building system assembles easily and predictably.

Can I build a Habitat package myself?

Many homeowners with do-it-yourself experience have successfully constructed their own homes and additions.  We will provide you with technical assistance.

How does Habitat Post & Beam receive its materials?

We own our own railroad site adjacent to our factory, which is important for economical delivery of large timbers.  Rail flat cars of #1 Douglas fir are offloaded by forklifts and stored on large, covered drying racks until needed.

What types of timbers and other wood species are used in Habitat's packages?

Habitat uses the finest woods available for post and beam construction, stamped and graded by the National Lumber Association.  All posts, beams and rafters are #1 Douglas fir, guaranteed to be 75% free of heartwood.  Kiln-dried premium western pine, western red cedar, and Douglas fir tongue and groove decking is specified for the second floor and roof.  All pre-constructed wall panels are comprised of stamped and graded kiln-dried spruce studs, 1/2" 5-ply CDX fir plywood, red cedar clapboards siding, knotty cedar vertical siding, white cedar shingle siding, and smooth primed cedar trim.   For more information, go to http://www.postandbeam.com/package-includes.

What kind of joinery does Habitat use?

We use a variety of wood joints and hidden fasteners depending on the framing members being connected.  With the inclusion of hidden fasteners such as lag bolts, barn spikes and custom steel plates, we are able to surpass the limitations of traditional wood joinery.  We typically do not use exposed metal connectors on any of structures unless specifically requested for decoration, or required due to high wind and earthquake conditions. 

Can I use wood from my own property?


Are the timbers cut at Habitat?

We design, engineer and manufacture all of our material packages in our modern workshop here in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.  Habitat Post & Beam does not subcontract its work.  All fabrication is done under factory-controlled conditions and is quality-control checked before shipment.

Does Habitat provide technical assistance and construction details?

The Habitat Post & Beam design and engineering department is open for technical assistance via phone Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.  Structural construction details, a material list, guidelines for assembly, and complete, engineer-approved working plans are included with your package.

What is Habitat's warranty program?

Habitat Post & Beam, Inc., warrants that for 20 years from the day of product delivery we will be responsible for any major structural defects that occur as a result of the material we supply; this warranty is transferable.  Defects resulting from improper construction, improper or lack of maintenance, negligence, use of substitute materials, or the effects of damaging natural occurrences are not covered under this warranty.  Individual manufacturers' warranties apply.  Manufacturers' (shingles, doors, windows, etc.) warranty stickers/cards/ paperwork can be found in or on packaging upon shipment - please keep in a safe place.

What kind of wall system does Habitat use? Is this the same as stress skin/structural insulated panels?

Habitat provides pre-built factory panels comprised of kiln-dried 2x4 studs 16" on center as a solid nail base for securing cabinets, siding, etc.  (It is the recommendation of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association that cedar clapboards be nailed with 1 1/2" penetration into solid wood every 16-24"), and 1" Styrofoam bonded to 1/2" CDX plywood is included for on-site application (additional insulation - fiberglass, spray foam, etc. - is locally supplied and installed)  See http://www.postandbeam.com/wall-framing-system for more information.  We do not use stress skin panels.  We believe that while stress skin panels provide a high R-value, there are inherent problems that have discouraged our use.  For additional information, see http://www.postandbeam.com/wall-framing-system and scroll down to "The Habitat Wall System vs. Stress Skin Wall System."

What types of insulation does Habitat use? What are the R-values of your insulating systems?

The wall system uses 1" Styrofoam bonded to 1/2" 5-ply CDX fir plywood, included for on-site application.  Additional insulation (fiberglass, spray foam, etc.) is locally supplied and installed.  See http://www.postandbeam.com/wall-framing-system for additional information.  The roof system insulation is made up of staggered layers (6” total) of foil-faced rigid urethane insulation, and 1/2" 5-ply CDX fir plywood nail base over the decking.  Higher R-Values can be obtained with an additional layer of insulation; R-50 is a common option.  See http://www.postandbeam.com/roof-framing-system for more information.

How does the Sheetrock (drywall) stay tight to the posts and beams?

A common problem with timber frame construction wall finish is the eventual separation of Sheetrock from the posts and beams as the structure ages.  Habitat includes a dado (groove) in the exterior wall posts and beams into which the Sheetrock is slid during construction, which allows it to remain tight and true.

What brand(s) of windows and doors do you use? Can I use other windows/doors than the ones you supply?

We use Andersen®'s top-of-the-line 400 Series High Performance™ Low-E4™ glass windows and patio doors with maintenance-free cladding that features a 20-year warranty (http://www.andersenwindows.com).  Exterior doors are JELD-WEN® fiberglass, insulated, pre-hung doors (http://www.jeld-wen.com).  Roof windows/skylights are by Velux® (http://www.veluxusa.com).  If you prefer to purchase your own windows and doors locally we will provide the rough openings in our wall panels for the sizes you specify.  For more information go to http://www.postandbeam.com/package-includes, and the individual manufacturers' web sites (links above).

What types of siding and trim do you use? Can I use other types?

Siding is red cedar clapboards, tongue and groove saw-textured knotty cedar vertical siding, or white cedar extra grade shingles.  Trim is smooth, primed cedar (for more information see http://www.postandbeam.com/package-includes)  You can supply your own alternative siding and trim and we will credit you the cost of our standard siding should you choose to use a type of siding that we do not offer (vinyl, brick, cement board, etc.).

How quickly can my Habitat Post & Beam package ship?

Typically from the point of signed contract and no further design changes (see http://www.postandbeam.com/working-with-habitat for more information), we usually can deliver your home or addition in four-to-six weeks.  This is normally the time required for site preparation and foundation/first floor deck installation.

Are you affiliated with Habitat for Humanity?

We're not; the names are just a coincidence.  If you're looking for Habitat for Humanity (the non-profit organization that helps lower-income individuals build their own homes), go to http://www.habitat.org where you can find the chapter closest to you, or call 1-800-422-4828.