Some of the most common questions we hear from almost everyone we talk to that is interested in building a new timber frame home relates to electrical and plumbing. How do you run electrical wiring in a timber frame and Structural Insulated Panel, SIPs home? How is the plumbing run? How do you heat and cool a timber frame home? Are there any special concerns?

The mechanical systems in your home are like the internal workings of the body, if you compare the analogy of the timber frame being the skeleton and the structural insulated panels like the skin. You need heat, you need plumbing, and you need to breath. Same for your new timber frame home!

Plumbing and Heating

Heating a timber frame home is the same as a conventional home, except that you won’t need as large of a furnace or boiler. Since timber frame homes are more efficient and better insulated than traditional construction, the days of large, dirty furnaces in the basement are long gone; and since you don’t need as large of a unit, you will be burning less fuel and saving money in heating bills! Many of our clients choose to install radiant in-floor heat, which is a great option for a timber frame home. With radiant heat you have the option of using a “staple-up” installation, specially designed subfloor sheathing systems, or lightweight concrete to run your heating tubes in. Depending on the type of distribution system you use will affect the overall design of the floor framing system (lightweight concrete is still concrete and is still heavy!), and is something we need to take into consideration in the design process. Other methods of transferring heat are also used, such as hot water baseboard and forced hot air, which is popular when used in combination with air conditioning. Since our homes are very similar in construction to regular homes in the interior, your plumber and heating contractor should have no problem working on your new Davis Frame Co. timber frame home.

Mini split heating systems are ductless and also becoming a popular option, especially in super energy efficient homes, like our timber frame homes with Structural Insulated Panel (SIPS) construction! These wall systems work very nicely in new construction and are extremely efficient. They can be used for heat and air conditioning which is a major selling point for homeowners. One downside to mini split systems is that they will take up wall space and are visible. However, many people are getting creative on hiding the units or making them blend in with the decor rather than sticking out. Check out Houzz and search mini split and you will find all kinds of ideas other homeowners have done. 

Becoming mainstream now in new homes are heat recovery ventilators, or HRV units. This is an air exchanger that exhausts interior air and replaces it with fresh outside air. The exchange occurs through a heat exchanger so that you don’t lose all the heat you supplied to the interior air and get a blast of cold air in return. Typically the unit draws in air from areas like the kitchen to exhaust cooking smells and the bathrooms to remove moisture laden air and the returns are typically located in common areas like the living room. The units are small and can be installed by any qualified HVAC contractor. It hasn’t happened yet, but soon building codes will require these units. During


Electrical installation for a timber frame occurs as you would normally expect, with the exception of the exterior structural wall panel and if you are interested in having a ceiling fan mounted in the peak of your new timber frame great room. For the fan installation, it is essential that the electrician be available while the timber frame is being erected so that any wiring can be accomplished at the opportune times. Once the frame and panels are assembled, it is tougher to go back and install those fixtures. The wiring along the exterior walls can happen in a few different ways; one option we like is to hold the drywall up off the sub-floor about 3 inches so wires can be run behind the baseboard. The same idea can be used and a built out baseboard or modular baseboard that is removable can be used to run wires and install outlets in. Additional wiring can be run in the first floor framing (in the basement) and brought up into the walls only at needed locations. All other areas of the timber frame home are wired the same as a conventionally framed home, usually in interior partition walls. This is also something we are able to work with you and your contractors both in the design phase and later on when construction is happening.

This is only a brief discussion of these topics, if you have more questions please Contact us via our website, or call now at (800) 636-0993 to talk to one of our project coordinators who are knowledgeable and willing to help!