Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims about 40 to 50 percent of wood from demolished buildings can be reused in new construction? While in the past there were limited ways to recycle wood in the United States, it’s becoming a more common practice because there are so many ways recycled wood can be used by builders.

One of our favorite reclaimed timber projects was Trey Parker’s Steamboat Springs home. In his home, we used timbers that had been salvaged from a railroad bridge that had at one time covered a part of the Great Salt Lake, much to the delight of local wildlife who thought the salted timbers were dessert. Using reclaimed timber was a great choice to create the look that was desired for this home, as well as a way to continue in our efforts of creating an environmentally friendly home.

Reclaimed timber beams are also a great choice because aged wood is seasoned, which means it is more stable than newly cut wood. Along with using reclaimed timber beams, wood that has is historic, recycled, or reclaimed can also be used for flooring and walls in new construction. Recycled wood can also be useful as garden or yard art, or to create new furniture. Using reclaimed and recycled wood doesn’t have to stop at the framing of a home.

Here at Trilogy Partners, we strive to be as environmentally responsible as possible in our building practices. Using reclaimed timber and recycled wood is just one way we achieve that goal.

Reclaimed Timber Frame house

A natural looking home doesn’t have to be a log cabin or a traditional space. In fact, incorporating natural elements into your more contemporary home is relatively easy and can create a wonderful contrast to the structured look of most modern home designs. Use these tips from Trilogy Partners to help you add a bit of nature to your space:

Exposed beams bring nature indoors

Source: Trilogy Partners

  • Use natural wood beams and supports in your home without painting or staining them. The texture of natural wood can make a stunning addition to a modern home, especially when incorporating repeating horizontal lines.
  • Blend neutral colors into your design and look for décor that incorporates natural elements like untreated leather. These subtle pieces of décor can make your space feel refined and still full of nature.
  • Skip the window treatments, especially if you have a lot of windows or floor to ceiling glass. If you can’t skip the window treatments altogether for privacy reasons, choose a type that won’t take up a lot of visual space when they are drawn or pulled up. Letting nature in is the best way to incorporate it into your home.

Contact Trilogy Partners for home inspiration ideas you can use in your home.

With the multitude of residential building technologies available, it only makes sense that the optimized home might take advantage of more than one. Though the majority of residences in this country are built using conventional framing technologies (dimensional 2×4 and 2×6 lumber for walls as an example) other structural technologies are available and have become increasingly popular. This article begins a series on how multiple building technologies combine seamlessly to form superior and environmentally sustainable structures.

The residence we affectionately call Caleb’s Journey combines conventional framing, structural insulating panels, and post and beam to create a fully modern and highly sustainable home with timeless design.

Structural Insulating Panels (SIPS) form the super insulated walls of the structure. They come precut from the SIP factory.

SIPs form the walls

First, we stand the SIP Panels.

Setting the SIP in place

And then we add the post and beam structural members.

Post and Beam roof trusses are milled and assembled.

The roof trusses are supported by log posts and by the SIP walls. The combination provides extraordinary structural integrity.

Creating a room that looks like this when finished. Reclaimed redwood covers the ceilings.

Interior walls are conventionally framed

Conventional framing is used for the interior walls and some roof transition areas. SIP panels are also used on the roof.

The end result is a home that combines the energy efficiency of SIPs, the structural integrity and beauty of Post and Beam, and the flexibility of conventional framing. For more photos of Caleb’s Journey, a true hybrid home, visit the photo gallery.

Structural Insulating Panels for Roofs and Walls

Introduction to SIPs

  • Buyer Benefits: Two years ago, Norm Abrams of This Old House stated on TV and wrote in articles that he wouldn’t build his own house any other way than with SIPs. See the reasons below
  • Builder Benefits: SIPs can be a little intimidating to builders who haven’t used them. But experienced SIP contractors sing their praises. Many have switched exclusively to panels,citing the following reasons for their decisions.

SIP Benefits for Buyers

  • Extremely strong structure. There is considerable evidence that homes with SIP wall and ceiling panels have survived natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds and earthquakes better than traditional stick-framed homes right next door.
  • Lower energy bills. Discounting the “human factor”-thermostat settings and so forth-a number of side-by-side tests show that between 15% and 40% less energy should be needed to heat and cool a home with SIP wall and ceiling panels. In tests by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, SIP walls outperform fiberglass walls by over 50%.
  • Improved comfort. Thanks to extra R-values and tight construction, the wall and ceiling surfaces in a SIP home will stay warmer than in stick-framed homes. The warmer those surfaces are, the more comfortable the home is.
  • “Freeze proof.” What happens if the power goes down? During the late 1990s, several New England SIP homes survived over a week without power or a wood stove and never came close to freezing.
  • Indoor Air Quality. While there is no guarantee here, most homes built with SIPs are tight enough that builders can’t ignore upgrading mechanical ventilation compared to that found in a standard home. In many studies in North American housing, the best indoor air quality is found in homes that are tight and equipped with upgraded mechanical ventilation.
  • Green building product. On a life-cycle basis, a more energy-efficient house built with SIPs will be less damaging to the environment, in terms of overall resource consumption. Much less dimensional lumber is used in a SIP home than in a traditional framed structure.
  • Interactive systems benefits: For example, a more energy-efficient home may cost slightly more to build but in turn can be heated and cooled with smaller equipment that costs less to install.

SIP Benefits for Builders

  • Speed of construction. You can order the panels with all pre-cutting performed in a factory. They show up on the jobsite all pre-numbered, ready for assembly corresponding to numbers laid out on a set of shop drawings. On most jobs you should be out of the weather and dried in sooner. Time is money.
  • Fewer framers. A crew can consist of one lead framer assisted by minimally skilled helpers. Whenever a job involves craning panels up to frame a roof, it helps to have two people familiar with panels: one on the roof and one on the ground.
  • Shell installation option. If you’re having a tough time locating skilled carpenters, a growing number of manufacturers have regular crews who will install a shell on your foundation for you to finish.
  • Rigid frame. It’s easy bracing SIP walls. In fact, once you have two corner panels up, you can lean a ladder against the panels when needed.
  • Less jobsite waste. If you’ve ordered a set of panels with all rough openings for windows and doors pre-cut at the factory, the only true waste you’ll have is taking a few cases of empty tubes of adhesive caulk containers to the dump. And the factory can efficiently collect and recycle their cut-outs much more effectively than you can at the job site.
  • Less theft. While 2x4s and 2x6s are prone to “walking off” unsecured job sites, panels are too specific to the site’s building system to be worth hauling off somewhere else.
  • Cost competitive. While most builders say they pay a little more for SIPs than for the comparable framing and insulation package in a stick-built home, as a group they believe the benefits are worth the costs. The amount extra they pay varies; while a few say it costs them an extra $1 per square foot of finished floor area, the amount may be higher when roof panels are used. However, when roof panels enclose extra living space in a loft, the price per square foot is surprisingly competitive. If at the design stage you optimize a structure to use panels, the most experienced SIP builders then say a house framed with SIPs should cost about the same as a house framed with comparably sized dimensional lumber, and maybe even a little less.
  • Easier to hang drywall. There is solid backing for all drywall against exterior walls, which means there is less cutting, faster attachment and less waste material.
  • Fewer framing callbacks. Wall panels go in plumb, square and straight. Once in place, a SIP won’t warp, twist or check.
  • Increased referrals. A fair number of small builders report their marketing efforts have decreased ever since they started using SIP building systems.

Reprinted from http://www.greenbuildingtalk.com/buildcentral/sip/benefits.aspx

Colorado Building Company, sister company to Trilogy Partners, was founded in 2007. Whereas Trilogy is a Design and Build construction company, Colorado Building Company is construction management/general contracting company. CBC specializes in projects where design oversite is the parameter of architects and interior designers not working under the design-build model. Trilogy Partners uses CBC for general contracting services.

The team behind CBC has more than half a century of combined construction experience. CBC is experienced in the construction of high value custom homes.  But smaller projects and remodels receive the same attention to detail and customer service as large projects. CBC also has a commercial division to service non-residential projects.

CBC leads the way in sustainable building and cutting edge construction technologies. CBC built the first zero net home in Breckenridge. CBC leadership is experienced in Structural Insulating Panel construction, advanced green framing technologies, timber frame, log, and conventional framing. CBC is committed to the highest level of quality and customer service.

We’ve talked about the benefits of a timber frame a lot on the Trilogy Partners blog, and we recently came across another great idea for incorporating timber frames into the design of your home on the Timber Frame Magazine website – a timber frame porch. Timber frame porches are an exceptional design idea for adding a bit of definition to the exterior of your home. According to Timber Frame Magazine, timber frame porches be used for a unique entrance into your home, or as a sitting porch, screen porch, or an outdoor living space.

It’s important to note that if you choose to include a timber frame porch into your home’s design, you’ll want to make sure the timber you use is naturally resistant to rot and insect damage. This will ensure that your porch will stand up to the elements and require little maintenance.

Timber frames are great for constructing porches and outdoor living spaces, as seen here in Caleb's Journey.

Using timber frames to create a porch or outdoor living space is a great way to add beauty to your home, as well as incorporate sustainable materials into your home’s design. Whether you are constructing a new home, or thinking about adding a new outdoor living space, consider using timber frames throughout!

Timber Frame Construction, compared to stick built or conventional framing, is a very sustainable building technology. Unlike stick building, the materials used in a timber frame will inevitably be reclaimed and recycled. In fact, many timber frames are made from reclaimed and recycled frames from barns, bridges, warehouses, and factory buildings. An argument is sometimes made that Timber Frames use old growth lumber. In fact, some do. But Timber Frame homes typically last much longer than conventionally framed homes. Timber Frames in Europe and Asia are more than 1000 years old. One way to preserve old growth forests is to build homes that last a lot longer so fewer trees will be cut for construction purposes. One other fact about Timber Frames is that they are frequently build from fast growing farm raised southern yellow pine which is kiln dried. Farm raised Southern Yellow pine is a renewable resource.

Further supporting Timber Frame as a sustainable building method is that Timber Frame combined with SIP panels provides a highly insulated, tight structure that uses much less energy for heating and cooling than conventionally framed structures.

A Timber Frame home, though generally more expensive to build than a conventionally framed home, also brings with it the beauty of posts and beams, open floor plans and soaring ceilings. So Timber Frame construction is not only good for the planet, but beautiful as well.


Structural Insulating Panels (SIPs) are a composite building material consisting of a panel of insulating material, usually foam, sandwiched between two wooden layers. The wood can be oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood. Sometimes more exotic materials, such as sheet metal or concrete board, are substituted for the wooden layers. SIPs replace several components found in conventionally framed buildings including studs, joists and insulation. SIPs are most commonly used to construct exterior walls and roofs but may have other applications, such as insulated ceilings beneath conventionally framed roof truss systems.

Structural Insulating Panels have a history dating back to the 1940s when structural wall panels were first invented. Over the years the technologies and materials incorporated in SIPs have improved. In addition, computerized CNC cutting machines allow SIP panels to be factory manufactured and then cut to the exact size needed for construction, providing a certain level of prefabrication not seen in conventional construction.

Panels for Walls and Roofs

Homes using SIP panel construction tend to have a very tight envelope. Air infiltration, or draftiness, is eliminated and the walls themselves have a very high insulating quality. SIPs may cost more than conventional framing, but because they bring extreme energy efficiency to buildings, they lower operating costs. SIP panels are often combined with post and beam construction where the panels drape the frame creating an extremely durable and energy efficient structure. Trilogy Partners utilizes SIP panels in all of its Timber Frame and Post and Beam homes.

I can remember right after my brother and I decided to build our first house, I called my mother on the phone. “Mom,” I said. “We’re going to build a house. And I don’t know anything about interior design. Can you help me?”  She laughed.”Nope, I’m not an interior designer.” Wise words from Mom. A lot of people think that anyone can do interior design. Often homeowners will tell us, “No, we don’t need an interior designer. I can do that.” When I hear that, all I can do is sigh as I think to myself, “when you get sick and need an operation, do you perform one on yourself?”

Good Interior Design

Good interior design is an equal mix of talent and experience/education. A few of our homeowners have one of these necessary elements. But none so far have had both. And there’s also the element of time. Most owners have work, family, and plenty of other things on their plates already. And so they simply don’t have the time to do a first rate job shopping and selecting materials. Which means that the builder, who is also not an interior designer, ends up acting as the owner’s design assistant.


It Just Doesn’t Make $ense

From a financial standpoint, an owner acting as an owner/designer usually doesn’t make sense either. Designers make most of their income by buying items at wholesale through their dealer network. They then charge the client retail for the design elements. This standard markup means that the owner receives, in exchange for paying the retail price, design services, shopping services, advice, and most importantly, a practiced, skilled eye. In some cases the designer may choose to charge a flat fee and then pass on savings to the owner. But in most cases, adding a professional interior designer to the design team doesn’t cost more money than the “do it yourself” approach.

Hire a Designer

After my Mom refused to help me on my first house, I hired an interior designer. Sure, it cost a little more money than I would have spent had I acted as owner/designer. But my designer saved me a lot of time and ultimately, it was some of the best money I ever spent. The home sold the day we finished it. It turned out beautifully and looks as current today as it did 11 years ago when it was finished. I went on to do several more homes with this interior designer until I gained experience and discovered I had a talent for interior design. At this point Trilogy brought interior design in house. Since then, we’ve been awarded and published and are widely recognized as a top interior design firm. And I advise all my clients to do exactly what I did on my first home. Hire an interior designer. And reap the rewards.

965 N Ten Mile Dr. , Unit A1 Frisco, CO 80443
Phone: 970-453-2230

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