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Choosing the Perfect Type of Home

September 26th, 2017

House building technology and advanced techniques offer our customers so many choices for the type of home to build. Your perfect home type can depend on many factors, including:

  • your lifestyle
  • your budget
  • energy efficiency
  • time frame
  • building style
  • your land

Step One: Understanding Your Lifestyle
Understanding your lifestyle and location in life’s progression can help determine what kind of home you choose to build. For example, young families with children may choose a multiple bedroom home with plenty of space to spread out. Families with high school-aged children will enter an “empty nest” transition period in a few short years, and may not need as many bedrooms as a young family. If your home is the center of big family gatherings or you enjoy entertaining, larger common areas, kitchens and outdoor spaces may be the answer for your dream home. If you’re approaching retirement, consider building to accommodate one-floor living with a first-floor master and guest rooms on the second floor.

Pick a Style, Any Style!
At Big Twig Homes, we’ve embraced the best quality manufacturers for our customers, based on our 30+ years of experience in delivering homes that our customers love. We represent several home options, with each one offering pluses and minuses. Here’s a quick overview of the types of homes we build.

Katahdin Cedar Log Homes are Maine-based manufacturers of log home packages. Katahdin has developed a reputation for quality design, energy efficiency and rustic good looks. We work closely with Katahdin’s in-house design team to ensure your log home is laid out just the way you imagined it. Often customers with land located near recreational areas select a log home as a vacation home, but just as many opt for a contemporary log home for year-round living. Katahdin’s manufacturing technique blends cutting edge design technology that is interfaced with the mill.  As a result, each log is precisely cut, notched and drilled, ready for assembly on-site. Selecting cedar as the primary building material offers tremendous performance for both energy efficiency and sustainability. Cedar’s natural oils protect the logs from insects so that logs don’t require chemical treatment. Log homes can be as large or as small as you desire, and can include custom design options for no additional cost.

  • Customized plans available
  • High energy efficiency and sustainability
  • Appealing rustic style
  • Timeframe of 12-18+ months

EPS Buildings offer quality SIP constructed buildings for residential commercial and agricultural purposes. SIPs or Structural Insulated Panels provide excellent energy efficiency and performance. They are made of insulation sandwiched between two sheets of high grade plywood, which is then pressure sealed to complete the panel. We’ve used EPS Buildings for customer homes, equine facilities and commercial operations. EPS Buildings are 15 times more airtight than conventional framed construction and can be custom designed to fit any style and specifications. The SIP panels that comprise the walls and roof systems in EPS Buildings are manufactured in climate controlled facilities to ensure consistent performance for years to come. EPS Building exteriors can be finished with steel, clapboard or any other traditional exterior trim desired.

  • Custom plans for any type of construction
  • Highly energy efficient and Energy Star® rated
  • Quick timeframe for construction, depending on the structure

Goscobec Pre-Fabricated Homes are constructed in modules in their climate-controlled manufacturing facility. The completed modules are then assembled on the building site. Their years of experience in designing and delivering high quality homes made Goscobec an easy choice for Big Twig Homes. In addition to well-crafted components or their traditional modular homes, Gocobec has added their Eco-Logis Program as a building option. This offers an a la carte menu of “green” and sustainable options for design and construction that is based on the US Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard and Canada’s Novoclimat.

  • 100 Standard Plans and Customized Plans available
  • Streamlined construction for short timeframes.
  • Homes to meet any size budget

[hom] by Habitaflex provide a fast and elegant solution for complete housing in a short timeframe. They fall into the tiny home category, but offer plenty of well-used space packed into their small area. They are available in 1- or 2-bedroom configurations and arrive on your building site ready to assembly in a very short time! For more information please see this story about [hom] cottages.

 

Davis Frame Company Timber Frame Homes offer a distinctive look and style that boasts great energy efficiency with combination of large timber or post-and-beam constructed frames with high tech structural insulated panels (SIPs) to complete the home’s exterior shell or envelope. Timber frame and post and beam style homes can be rustic or more contemporary in style, and may feature multiple story common spaces, like great rooms. Using the tools and techniques of craftsmen who built sturdy barns for farming families in New England, this “big boned” homes offer a great deal of individual personality and options.

  • Custom design
  • More labor-intensive on-site construction
  • High energy efficiency
  • Traditional timbered style

Traditional Home Construction is the type of home building we cut our teeth on! We can provide design and building experience for your traditional “stick frame” home, with top quality construction techniques that we’ve honed over the years. Whether your style is a traditional cape, classic New Englander or cozy dormered cottages, we can help you realize your dream home on time and on budget.

  • Custom design
  • Infinite variables on energy efficiency
  • More labor-intensive construction
  • Construction timing is more weather dependent.

No doubt you’ve still got specific questions about your new home plans and the best approach to achieve them. We’re here to help walk you through the options and help you decide on a home that meets all your criteria!

Habitaflex [hôm] Tiny Homes are Fast, Affordable & Fun!

August 30th, 2017

If you’re considering a tiny home, Big Twig Homes is now offering Habitaflex [hôm] cottages in New England. Measuring in at 955 square feet, [hôm] was designed from the ground up to be simple, affordable and 100% constructed in controlled factory settings. We love these cottages because they are designed to include everything you need! Plus, the clean contemporary design is easy to decorate and make your own.

[hôm] is a very economical solution that goes up fast. Big Twig Homes can assemble these tiny homes with just three men, five days and you’re home—at [hôm]! The structure is designed to include everything you’ll need to move right in:

  • Complete Kitchen— cabinets, sink, tap and hood
  • Complete Bathroom— Shower, vanity, sink and toilet
  • One or Two Bedroom Configurations
  • Efficient Electric Baseboard Heat
  • Hot Water Tank
  • HRV Air Exchanger
  • Loft can accommodate two beds (235 sq. ft.) or study/office
  • Washer-Dryer set-up
  • Closet space
  • Flooring
  • Stairs to loft
  • 200–amp circuit panel

Constructed in Canada for Year-round Comfort
[hôm] cottages are constructed to serve as four-season homes— and are insulated to meet tough U.S. standards for efficiency. The building envelope is insulated to meet your state requirements. [hôm] is completed with a steeply pitched metal roof for durability and to handle snow loads efficiently. The cottage components are designed to be tightly sealed together during the assembly process to avoid air leaks. Each cottage is equipped with Energy Star® rated windows and doors for extra energy savings. Owners can opt for more efficient triple pane windows for an added charge.

Keeping Costs Down
According to Habitaflex’s Sylvie Raymond, the [hôm] development team had to make some conscious choices to keep their sale price competitive. As such, the customization is limited to one- or two bedroom configurations and four color combinations. However, homeowners can customize the exterior of their [hôm] with added porches or decking to extend the cottage’s outdoor living space.

Quality Controls & U.S. Testing
With a defined plan to market [hôm] in the US, the Habitaflex designers had their building prototypes tested and inspected in a testing facility by QAI Laboratories in Los Angeles, Calif. In the manufacturing facility located just south of Quebec City, each component is tested and calibrated for accurate reproduction. Prior to packaging for shipment each component, plumbing and electrical systems are inspected by a third-party inspector. Habitaflex has been designing and manufacturing modern housing options for 15 years in their high-tech manufacturing facility.

Advance Preparations for Construction
The [hôm] cottage is designed for flexibility on-site when preparing a foundation— it can be set on pilings, posts, a crawlspace or full basement. This offers more options when siting the cottage on lakeside property or in remote locations. Once the preferred foundation or base is complete, the [hôm] truck will deliver the components, where they will be offloaded with lifting equipment. Then the three-man crew at Big Twig Homes gets started positioning the components and assembling and sealing the floors, walls and roof of the cottage. Once assembled, licensed tradesmen will be on hand to connect and test the plumbing and electrical systems. All that’s needed are your appliances, furniture and accessories to make it your own. No painting, no finish work and best of all, no waiting!

To learn more about Habitaflex and their [hôm] tiny home, just give us a call at (207) 576-5500 and we’ll be delighted to answer your questions!

What Shade of Green Are You?

July 28th, 2017

It seems like a funny question, but what we’re asking is: how environmentally friendly do you want your new home to be? With the array of new technology and differing building options available, deciding how “green” you want to be will affect several key factors in your new home. Deciding what your personal green goals are at the start can ensure your home performs the way you envision. Here are five aspects to help you determine just how green your new home should be:

  1. How green is your builder or contractor?
    There are many types of builders available in our area. Some are the “tried and true” kind who have built good homes for many years, but may be reluctant to explore some of the new environmentally friendly options available. Other builders are committed to a rating system or style of building that can save lots of energy, but comes with lifestyle trade-offs and possible increased costs. At Big Twig Homes, we like to take a position somewhere in the middle — relying on good construction craftsmanship while embracing energy efficiency and other green strategies where they make sense.
  2. What are your goals for your home’s green features?
    Each family is unique and has differing goals for the green aspects they want in their new homes. Some family members have respiratory problems, and want to have their home built with low VOC products to elevate indoor air quality. Other home owners are hoping to have some control over fluctuating energy costs by fixing energy investments with solar or geothermal systems. Still others want to have a comfortable home that will maintain its value and provide a healthy return when it’s time to sell. All these goals can be met with a range of green approaches.
  3. Saving energy is just one facet of a “green” approach to home construction.
    Of the many options to building green, energy efficiency is an important component. On the green building spectrum, there are many other factors that can contribute to a home’s impact on the environment. Many folks focus on improving the overall performance of their homes as systems. A home performance perspective will look at the basics— insulation, windows, doors, heating and cooling— plus ensuring the home’s exterior envelope is well sealed, proper home ventilation is installed. Even greener approaches will consider the proximity of the home’s location to amenities, the fuel expended to bring materials to the site, sustainability of materials and construction waste disposal to minimize the total impact on the environment.
  4. What level of cost versus benefit are you comfortable with?
    Like many life decisions, we often need to examine the costs versus the end benefits that any green feature provides. For example, a net zero house that produces enough energy to operate independently is achieved often with an increased investment in super-efficient windows, added insulation, and design changes that may work for some families but not for others. However, simple upgrades like added insulation or considering solar panels on your roof may provide a quick return and incentives that make the investment worthwhile.
  5. Documenting your new home’s energy rating can increase its value.
    There are a whole alphabet soup of options for measuring your home’s efficiency and environmental impact. Some focus on energy efficiency, while others look at a whole array of factors that can vary in home construction. We like to think that one smart investment is to hire an energy rater to work with us from design though to the final details. RESNET is a national organization that helps homeowners understand their home’s efficiency by training certified energy raters. These trained pros can advise on option to improve your home’s efficiency with small changes that have a big impact. You can find an energy rater in your area by using this tool on RESNET.com. Some studies have shown that having a good RESNET score can increase your home’s value by as much as 8%. Plus, energy efficiency tax incentives and rebates can put money back in your pocket.

No matter how green you want your home to be, we’re ready to walk you through the options and determine which green approaches meet your needs and your budget. Give us a call today at 207-576-5500.

Wood, Gas and Pellet Stoves: New Alternatives

February 14th, 2012

From Katahdin Cedar Log Homes – Source Link
The instability of heating oil and electricity costs in terms of heating a home have encouraged many log home owners to consider supplemental or alternative heating sources. Wood stoves, gas stoves and pellet stoves have been undergoing innovative design upgrades, offering log home owners many more options with tremendous convenience.

Gas Stove
For style, warmth and ease of use, Hearthstone’s Stowe model gas-fired stoveoffers an attractive supplemental heat source. The Stowe is available soon in fashionable off-white bisque enamel (see photo left), along with three other more traditional colors. The stove offers a heat refractory system that maximizes the radiant heat from the stove. Another neat practical feature is the Pro-Flame electronic ignition, which shuts off when not in use, and a built-in battery back-up which allows operation when the power is out.
Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves have come a long way since their emergence on the marketplace a few years ago. Pellets are much easier to locate and quality pellets provide a clean burn with little ash residue. Some of the drawbacks to pellet stoves have been addressed in Hearthstone’s Heritage Pellet stove (right), including a large 160-square inch viewing glass to increase the visual appeal. Hearthstone has also quieted the operating fan for a less intrusive heat source. (Pellet stoves do require electricity for operation, though.) The Heritage offers some good looks with either grey soapstone or sable-colored sandstone options with brown or black enamel trim.

Top-loading Wood Stove
Anyone who’s owned a woodstove understands the benefits of a top-loading stove like Jotul’s Rangeley model in cast iron or steel sides. The Rangeley offers a high efficiency rating and produces enough heat to heat a 2000-square-foot area. The lid also has been designed as a fully functional cook plate.

Classic Looks & Modern Technology
Jotul has also reintroduced its most popular classic style Black Bear Stove. The stove has been updated to provide 75% efficiency but provides a nostalgic look. The front plate carries the Norwegian inscription that translates to “I built me a flame late one night. When day is done, God will my flame never die out.” The Black Bear is an attractive and space saving stove for a more rustic setting.

Wood-Fired Cookstove
For the purist who enjoys modern sensibilities, Hearthstone has introduced a modern wood-fired cookstove, the Deva 100 (below). The design offers ease of operation, and holds up to 32 pounds of wood as long as 17inches. For the ambitious chef, the oven is spacious enough to cook a 20-pound turkey and has a center-mounted thermostat for easy visibility and precise temperature control. Available in a classic black enamel.

Passive House: Selecting an Architect

February 14th, 2012

From Katahdin Cedar Log Homes Article Source

Over the past few issues we’ve reviewed the three elements that combine to create a Passive House: the envelope, windows and doors, and air ventilation. Now how do you make it all come together? An architect experienced in Passive House design is one way to pull all the elements together to allow for the dramatic low energy consumption benefits of a Passive House.

Though well established in Europe, Passive House is only recently developing a following in the United States. Our resource for Passive House information, Alan Gibson of GO Logic in Belfast, Maine, has some recommendations for homeowners seeking an architect able to implement Passive House technology in their log home. Gibson recommends:

  • Find a PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant. Visit the Passive House Institute US website for their listings of certified consultants. The list can be sorted by location, and the complete contact information is available by just clicking on the consultant’s name. Consultants have received training in understanding and utilizing the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software, which identifies the parameters for passive home construction and design.
  • Find an architect who has designed a passive house. There are more and more architects who have designed passive houses, without becoming certified through PHIUS. Trained architects are able to utilize the PHPP software, which identifies the parameters for passive home construction and design. Inquire about previous passive house projects designed and completed, along with anything close to the standard. Ask a prospective architect if he or she completed the training, and if they are comfortable modeling the house using the PHPP software.
  • Prepare a list of questions. If the architect has not used PHPP or built a passive house, but would be interested in exploring a passive house design, ask about strategies he or she would employ for passive heating requirements (solar gain, insulation, windows, ventilation). Also ask for an estimate of the construction cost that would be required for them to design a home to meet the Passive House standard.

At Katahdin, our design team works with many architects to integrate custom designs into plans that are feasible within the parameters of log home construction. Should you decide to design a home with passive house technology, we can work with your architect or consultant to make it a reality!