From a warm, intimate living room to a sun-filled great room with soaring cathedral ceilings, the options are limitless. Past meeting present. A simple time meeting modern convenience.
As president of Gillis & Company Timber Frames Limited, registered professional engineer Mark Gillis builds custom timber frame homes. A timber frame home is a special type of “post and beam construction” that uses hand-crafted wood joinery.
“We specialize in one-of-a-kind homes, and I have designed and built homes all over Eastern Canada,” said Gillis, who has won three Nova Scotia Home and Building Designers Association awards for his designs. “I work directly with clients on the design and detailing of their home, and we focus on meeting their every need.”
Timber frame homes offer a unique architectural style, because the timbers are fully revealed on the inside of the home. While the exposed beams are aesthetically beautiful, they’re also load-bearing. Interior walls can be moved — or removed entirely — allowing for spacious, open-concept rooms. Homeowners can even choose to forgo some exterior walls and replace them with large sheets of glass.
“Our homes are designed for passive solar energy, and incorporate high insulation values and energy-efficient details,” said Gillis. The timber frames borrow structural techniques from lighthouses and cathedrals, but are designed and constructed with the latest computer software and tools. “This sets them apart from any other type of home,” Gillis said.
The homeowners are very involved in the design process of a custom timber frame home — which takes a few months — and then Gillis says they can expect between six and eight months before construction is complete. The finished homes typically cost upwards from $200 per square foot, plus the cost of land and services (such as well and septic).
Once the structure is complete, there are a variety of design possibilities with a timber frame home. The exposed walls behind the frame can be painted to suit the homeowner's tastes, and the timber can be stained to fit with any decor.
“These homes help create a bridge between yesterday’s care, and tomorrow’s high-tech living,” Gillis said. “We take pride in helping continue a once-lost craft.”
– Heather Clarke is a Halifax-based writer with a penchant for pretty things.
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