Restoration Timber Framing
Northern New England has a range of historic buildings that date from the 18th and 19th centuries. They are part of the heritage of the region and an important part of our cultural landscape. The craftsmanship of the original builders is visible in the exteriors and interiors of homes, barns, town halls and churches. Some of the craftsmanship is hidden under roofs, siding and behind walls.
In spite of the skill of the original builders, time can take its toll and a historic building needs some maintenance and tender loving care to keep it functional and beautiful. Keeping historic buildings structurally sound is a particular challenge and well worth the investment.
In restoration timber framing the goal is to replace only the sections of timber that have failed, leaving the rest of the historic fabric intact.
One of the main contributors to damage of timber framed structures is moisture. Leaky roofs in houses and barns can allow water to creep in affecting the upper horizontal beams (plates) that support the roof trusses.
Snow, ice, and frost can combine with the movement of the earth and seasonal high water to compromise a structure's foundation and framing.
Another contributor to damage is dirt that can collect around the sills of an old structure. Mixed with moisture, this can cause sills to be the first to fail. For this reason, sills and foundation are some of the most common repairs.
Many historic buildings have stone foundations or retaining walls. Originally, many of these were laid up dry (without mortar). Dry stack stone walls can be seen throughout the forests of New Hampshire.
Many 18th and 19th century homes and barns have foundations made of stone, some of cut granite and some of natural fieldstone. Over time, water, the movement of the earth and frost can undermine the stone work, making it necessary to relay it.
Some 18th and 19th century homes were built upon crawl spaces making it difficult to heat a building efficiently. Occasionally, it makes sense to raise the building and put in a full concrete cellar. This type of work often requires replacing portions of rotten sills and combines historic restoration timber framing skills and stone masonry skills. Once lifted and supplied with a full cellar, the air circulation helps to preserve the structural support of the building.