Build a Dream Home with Green Sustainable Design

Posted by: Doreen Coleman on


Timber frame homes are grand mansions for movie stars and cowboy millionaires. They require a Montana-sized backyard and a NASA–sized budget, right?  

If you really believe that, you should meet Rick Stockmann of Specialty Built Construction, Salem, OR. He doesn’t live in Montana, or work for NASA, and he isn’t interested in building castles only for movie stars.  

Rick says that his mission in life is “to help people achieve their dreams – at least their dream home – whether big or small.” Rick is pretty sure, though, that most people’s dream homes involve some of the materials and design practices that he uses when building timber homes. His company has been in business for over 21 years.
 Timber frame building is naturally a process of green sustainable design. Rick uses timbers from trees which have been blown down, burned over, or were standing dead. He also uses selectively harvested timber. The combination of these methods results in a beautifully built timber frame home which was not made at the expense of the surrounding forest.  

A comprehensive green home design is not limited to the walls and framing of a home, though. If you are working with the right builder, he can show you several other products and systems intended to shrink both your utility bills and your carbon footprint.  

Constructing a Sustainable Partnership 

Whether you are building a new home or remodeling an old one, it is important that you and your builder have an understanding from the first day. “Building a home for someone is a partnership,” says Rick, “and it functions best when communication lines are open and there is mutual consideration and respect.”  

Most builders will tell you that they prefer working with educated customers. As a customer, you should have a general idea of your priorities, what the market has to offer, and what you can actually afford. Beyond those basics, your builder should be willing to advise and guide you when necessary.  

Of course, you should be open to that advice and guidance. “Homeowners should know that I plan on being upfront and honest with them.” Rick said, “If I see they are heading down a potentially troublesome path, I will make sure they are educated in their choice and prepare them for possible consequences.”  

Green Home Design Options 

Rick will likely have good ideas beyond the framing of your new home which will help you save money, energy and resources. A good builder may not always recommend the cheapest options, but he will probably make sure that your money isn’t wasted. You should be able to rely on your builder for quality products and to recommend dependable local installers.  

Energy efficient windows and doors can have a huge impact on your heating and cooling bills. When you install well-designed and solidly-built windows and doors, you’ve made an investment in your home which should pay for itself very quickly.  

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) can be used in many areas of a timber frame home without detracting from its beauty. Additionally, installing these panels can save energy, save resources, and improve your indoor air quality.  

Geothermal energy is also worth considering if it is available in your area. After the installation costs, which are considerable, the only cost to use the system will be the energy required to run the pump and compressor – which could be roughly a quarter of what you are currently paying.  

Rick believes homeowners are looking for efficiencies that give them their creature comforts without sacrificing their moral standards.  “Within the next 5 years better energy efficient products will be introduced for less cost, specifically solar and heating sources,” he says. In the meantime, “Just because something is approved and labeled ‘green’ doesn’t mean it meets yours or Specialty Built’s criteria for green.”  

Specialty Built Construction is a featured exhibitor at the Energy Trust Better Living Show. For more tips, read more about green building products.