Timber Frame Dormers

Every so often we get a chance to stretch our geometry skills and build a timber frame dormer. This feature highlights the timber frame, creates an attractive frame for the window and produces a unique space in the home.

Dormers have the potential to take a timber frame to higher level. It is the combination of varying timber sizes with the different rafter directions that creates this terrific display of timber and joinery. It is important to use the proper size timber for the job: we instinctively recognize this when we are in a timber frame. Your eye naturally notices the spans and sizes of the timbers and it feels right if the timbers change size based on the job they are doing. In the case of a dormer, we like to see the timbers reduced in size where the timbers are doing less work: the dormer rafter can be smaller than the valley rafter and the valley rafter can be smaller than the principle rafter. Often we can’t put words to it, but we have all been in spaces that feel right (or wrong). In timber frame construction correct sizing helps the space feel “right”. Now, mix the varying sizes of timbers with the multiple angles in a dormer and you have a great timber frame feature.

The other value of a timber frame dormer is the space it creates. The timber framing around the window draws you to the window; you naturally want to go to the window. The timber frame dormer also defines a space. In the photo, this dormer will be the ceiling over a future window seat.

A dormer lets light in an uptstairs space, creates more room in the upstairs, and adds visual appeal to the exterior of your home. In timber frame construction a dormer also adds a unique attractive interior feature to your home.

This dormer is part of a Dougals Fir hybrid timber frame. The timber frame was positioned in the center section of the home; the remaining construction is conventional 2 x 6 framing. The timber frame was built by the talented staff of Gibson Timber Frames and the home was built by Elliott Sage Custom Home Builders of Prince Edward County.

You can see more work by Gibson Timber Frames at www.gibsontimberframes.com

Timothy Andrews