April 9, 2013 – An Amazing Project on the Gulf Coast
An Amazing Project on the Louisiana Coast
The next timber frame raising on our schedule is a project unlike any we have done in the past. This Port Orford cedar horse barn is a 14,900 square foot showpiece with 8 stalls and an elegant office and living space for the owners. Perhaps the most challenging thing for Texas Timber Frames has been meeting the extreme requirements of building in a wetland that faces some of the fiercest storms in the world.
The weather on the Louisiana coastline poses unique challenges for building with timber. The hurricane winds faced in this part of the country are perhaps the most significant. Timber framing is famous for its ability to withstand fierce winds in hurricanes and tornadoes and this was one of the factors in the owner’s decision to trust us with the project. Having seen conventionally built homes literally blown away in storms while timber frames survived the blunt of tremendous winds throughout the centuries, the owner chose us to build a structure that he knew would last even in this challenging building environment. Steel has been utilized in a few strategic places in the frame to supplement the strength of the timber frame itself, resulting in a structure that is rated to withstand sustained, gale force winds.
Building in a Hot, Humid Swamp
Built near the gulf coastline south of New Orleans, this barn faces the challenges of a swamp-like terrain and environment. The ground on which the barn will sit requires a special foundation with pilings that keep the foundation and building from sinking into the ground. These pilings go deep into the ground like a pier to get a foothold in the more stable earth well below the swampy surface. In addition to providing stability, these pilings will help brace against the hurricane winds along the coast. This is a unique challenge that our trusted engineer has met with flying colors.
The Only Timber for the Job
This job called for a wood species to which we refer as “timber framer’s gold”—Port Orford cedar. This timber, which is actually closely related to cypress, is a structural cedar (the only cedar with a structural rating) that is virtually impervious to pest infestation or moisture rot. It also does not have the brittle qualities of western red or eastern red cedar, resulting in a perfect material for our craftsmen to execute the precise joinery in the mortise and tenon connections. Coming from the coastline of Oregon, this gold colored timber was the perfect choice for a job of this magnitude in a challenging environment like the Louisiana coastline.