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Interview with Christine Kelton

Q: What was it that made you decide to build a timber frame in the first place?

A: I had some pictures of some when I was in college, because I was interested in architecture. Then my best friend built one and used Legacy. And she is very particular and researched a lot of companies so when it came time for us to put our addition on the house I sent my friend a bottle of champagne for doing the research for me and I called up Dan and Annemarie.

Q: What were the qualities of a timber frame that especially appealed to you?

A: I like them because they don’t look like the typical house with all that sheetrock in it. And you can get that warm feeling like a log home but you don’t get all that log rustic. A timber frame can be more or less rustic as you design it. Whereas a log cabin is, I think, rustic no matter what you do. And I didn’t want a house where I had to put deer antlers everywhere.

Q: How did you make the decision when was the right time to build?

A: I had owned my house and it was a small house, my bachelorette pad. And then when I got married, I did not want to live in my husband’s log cabin. I wasn’t moving into there. So he was moving into my house. And then I got pregnant and we needed to have an addition built. So Dan and Annemarie actually have built two houses for us. One was a large addition on my old bachelorette pad which we loved and was a big selling point when we sold that house. We sold it right away. Then we wanted to expand our family and we decided the road where we lived was too busy. So, I think I called Annemarie, probably in early February that I want to build a new house, here’s what I want. Probably by the end of February I had the lot purchased, lined up everybody and away we went. It was quick. It was very quick. I knew what I wanted. I had books and I looked at books and knew I wanted a hammer beam. Annemarie is very good at what she does. I gave her an outline of what I wanted, I drove up, and I think that we pretty much had the first plan she designed for us we went with, with minor adjustments.

Q: Was there a favorite stage for you of designing and building your timber frame?

A: I liked getting the design in the mail, that was always fun…. My favorite part of building it was coming up(to the site) after work….Well, we general contracted it ourselves. My husband was the banker and I was the do everything else person. So, you know, it was fun. I’d do it again. I’d love to do it again. My husband cringes at the thought. We’ve been here seven and a half years and, you know, I itch to build.

Q: Were there any subcontractors or contractors who were particularly helpful for you? That seems to be an issue people have: how to find a good contractor.

A: I didn’t have too much trouble with that. I live in the area. The one guy who I had doing a lot of the interior finishing work inside of the house, I know him for years. So, he would help me along. Dan or Annemarie were a big help if I needed something done. But I would also drive up here and I would get here at 7 o’clock in the morning with my cell phone and whoever wasn’t here by 7:15, I’d start making phone calls. And then, it’s a small community and if I needed to speak with someone and couldn’t get in touch with them, typically the guys who work in the area building would go to lunch in Gardner which has three places for lunch. So, I would leave the office on my lunch break and just go from A to B to C and typically I’d run into somebody. So, I didn’t really have trouble. You know Dan and Annemarie helped if I had a question about, when can I call the plumber. They were a huge help with that sort of thing. And having had done it once (built a timber frame) helped. And the other guy, the interior guy would say, “Who’s putting Tyvek on the house? And I said, “Tyvek? Can you do it?” Some things were a little bit haphazard but it all came together fine.

Q: So, just an interesting little interlude there.

A: Dan would notice things that I wouldn’t notice. And it was a huge help because then I could go to somebody and say, “You know….” So that was key to a lot of things. And I could call Annemarie at any time and say, “You know something doesn’t look right. When should this (a particular step in construction) happen?”

Q: Did you learn any helpful hints that you’d like to pass along to someone who might be contemplating building a timber frame in the future or advice you’d like to give.

A: Oh, yeah, put “Rub-R-Wall” around your foundation, the Rub-R-Wall Corporation. You know, it’s not the tar they usually put on a foundation. That’s one. Rubber Walls, the rubber stuff they spray on is very thick and then they put an inch of that rigid insulation then backfill so the stones don’t go through (the) Rub-R-Walls. Then you get a guaranteed leak free basement. Another big tip was—it didn’t cost me very much money—I had an extra foot poured on the top of my basement foundation, the walls. And that enabled me, I have a full height
basement. You know, because you run all your plumbing and stuff along that ceiling down there and then you can put in a drop ceiling or sheetrock whatever you want and you still have a full eight foot ceiling. So, add a foot to your foundation.

We have a pretty big house and we heat the whole thing with a soap stone wood stove. Timber frame homes are very air tight. Just put in one of those air exchangers. So, these are the tips.

Q: What do you remember most about building your timber frame?

A: I remember watching the crane lift up the hammer beam trusses. That was fun.

Q: You had quite an adventure!

A: It was fun.

Q: Well, we are at the last question already! Now that you’ve been in your home a while can you speak to the advantages of living in a timber frame?

A: Well, they are very heat and air conditioning efficient. Everybody who comes here absolutely loves it. I’ve had two people tell me they want to buy it when I move, to please see them before I go to a realtor. You know, it’s just a very warm house without having all that—I mean, you can put wood on the walls to make it really rustic. But you can use other things besides wood on your walls. You know, it’s a very versatile house. It has a very warm feeling. I cannot imagine living in anything else.

So I tell my husband when we get older—he lives in Manhattan during the week—and I tell him that when we get older we’re going to have to build a duplex someplace—a timber frame duplex. So we can retire together and still have our own space.

This is our second one (timber frame). If we didn’t like (timber frames) we wouldn’t have gone back again. And it’s our second time with Legacy. And I tell them I get the, three times (is) the charm, we get the “buy two get one free” deal I’m going for. It sounds like a good deal to me.

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