Why Build Post & Beam?
When you're looking for the most energy efficient homes in MA, look no further than a post & beam design by Hurlburt Builders. This type of home is not just another pretty face. The very dynamics of these homes feature energy efficiency from the word go.
In conventionally framed 2x6 construction, your walls are usually rated an R-19. This means that the fiberglass insulation placed between the studding has a heat resistance rating of 19. That's pretty good, but when you consider that every 16" along that wall there is a stud that is 1 1/2" wide, it starts to lose that rating.
Here is what most builders either don't take into consideration or keep from you:
Wood is not a great insulator. It's R-Value is only about 1-R per inch. Using this as a standard means that everywhere there is a stud (almost 10% of the wall) your R-Rating drops to 5 1/2, the thickness of a 2x6 stud, making the true rating of a conventionally frame 2x6 wall average much less than an R-19.
The system used in the homes built by Hurlburt, supplied by Habitat Post & Beam, are quite different than the others.
You start with a post and beam frame. Then between each post a 2x4" wall is placed. Yes, I know 2x4" walls are less efficient than 2x6" true but here's where we start leaving the others in the dust. Once the wall frame is complete, we then sheath it using 1/2" Douglass Fir plywood, not OSB board used by the others, with 1" Dow Styrofoam board adhered to the inside of it. That means between the plywood and framing there is a layer of 1" foam covering the entire wall frame, studs and posts!
Even before any insulation is applied to the studding, we now have a "true/consistant" R-5.5 encapsulating the entire wall frame. Once we install our high density R-15 insulation to the 2x4 studding, added to the 5.5 wall foam, and we get a true/consistant R-19!
Zero framing comes in direct contact with cold air, it's like a warm blanket surrounding your home on those cold New England nights.
The roof frame, where most of your heating is lost, plays an important role as well.
Let's look at a conventional frame with a vaulted ceiling:
You might have 2x10 rafters every 16" and an R-38 insulation between them. That again leaves about 10% of your roof frame with only an R-9.25 (9 1/4" is the finished thickness of a 2x10 rafter).
Our roof frames have 4" of solid R-max foam board (a true R-32) placed on 2x6 Cedar of Fir decking supported by 6x8 bean rafters. Above that we add some 2x3 sleepers every 24" with a 3rd layer of 1 1/2" R-max foam between them makes a true Value of R-10.5. That added to the R-32 gives us a true R-42.5.
Keep in mind although the R-Value is not significantly higher than conventional framing, but the thermal barrier it provides is.
This is shown when you look at a snow covered roof and the snow is melted everywhere there is a rafter. You know where you can see the vertical lines in the snow on roofs in the winter time. This shows how heat loss is generated in conventional framing.
Simply not the case in post & beam homes.
A Sound Structure
Beyond the beauty of post and beam homes, you get a solid structure you can feel safe in.
All the plate beams and posts are mechanically fastened using lags and heavy gage Timber Loc screws. Because of the strength of a post & beam frame you'll feel safe in your home during those high wind Nor'easter storms. Your home will be the place to go in major storm events for safe shelter. Don't forget to stock wine cooler! You are sure to have visitors.
The material used for our post & beam framing is Western Douglas Fir. Some may think Oak is the best when building timber homes. But that is a common misconception. Douglas Fir offers generally the same overall strength but with no twisting. When one of our homes is complete you can rest assured that ten years from now you won't see any unacceptable movement in the frame. Oak, Pine and Hemlock frames have tremendous movement to them, this is due to the high moisture content. Oak, once it's fully cured, can take on some real interesting shapes, far different than when first milled. It certainly adds character but at the same time can really change a doorway opening, crack drywall or leave a hump in your floor.
Your kitchen design will be limited only by what your imagination can dream up.
I'm not sure when it happened, but walls are not "in style" anymore when it comes to building new homes. People enjoy the open floor plan concept now more than ever. To achieve this you need large carrying beams. You could use Micro-Lam engineered carriers wrapped in drywall to get this effect. Or a vaulted roof truss also finished in drywall.
But the best way by far is with the beauty of real wood. Sure there's still drywall to be found but that simply emphasizes the beauty of the beams. With the structure of our post & beam frames you can have walls of glass with 30' ceilings! This gives the effect of being outside but with the ability to remain warm and dry during even the worst weather.
All of the space and height provided will put your kitchen up there with those found in fine home magazines. When incorporated with the open space given by a post & beam design, this allows it to flow from kitchen, dining to the great room.
Add a tall stone fireplace and you have the perfect dinner setting.