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WAS 'THIS OLD HOUSE' TALKING ABOUT 'THIS NEW HOUSE'?

When the PBS television series "This Old House" discussed the merits of post-and-beam construction, local builder Jon Hasselbeck must have been nodding his head up and down in positive approval.

While the post-and-beam structural framework for construction has been utilized worldwide for hundreds of years, most American builders, in the last century, have constructed new homes with stud framing. Hasselbeck of Alternative Contracting has joined the National Guild of Timber-Frame Builders to revive the "lost art" of timber-framing.

"In timber-framing, the vertical posts and horizontal beams are solid wood timbers joined by means of traditional wood joinery -- mortise and tenon, dovetails and scrafs secured with hardwood pegs," he explained.

The advantages of this type of home is that the floor plan is flexible due to the frame supporting itself -- most interior walls can be added or deleted without structural concerns. "The home buyer has the freedom to design great, spacious rooms with cathedral ceilings and exposed beams, the natural trademark of the craft," Hasselbeck noted as we toured a Clarence model at 6271 Bridlewood South.

Further efficiency and comfort is gained with the timber-framing structure since stress-skin panels can be applied to the exterior of the frame for a more continuous envelope of insulation, he said. "A conventionally framed house has breaks in the thermal barrier every 16 inches at each stud, with the timber frame it is every four feet."

The open floor plan begins in the great room where a 22-foot tall brick wood-burning fireplace is the focal point of the room. The oak mantel echoes the wood beams of the home. The adjacent dining room also is framed and delineated by the timbers.

The easy-living floor plan continues into the country kitchen; the eating area has a view of the spring-fed lake in the backyard.

Doors to the two-level deck exit from the eating area and the adjoining family room. These two rooms are tied together for family enjoyment by oak-pegged hardwood floors. The second level of the deck is off the master bedroom suite.

Upstairs the open loft overlooks the great room; this multi-purpose area could be converted to a fourth bedroom.

The master bedroom is of conventional construction and shows how easily the two construction styles integrate. It is separated from the two children's bedrooms by a private hallway that opens to the owners' sitting area. The master bath includes ceramic tile, double sink vanity, a whirlpool tub and separate shower.

While the interior design stresses efficiency, comfort and natural beauty, the exterior of the plan has not been overlooked. The New England-style elevation is rough-cut cedar clapboards, not a rustic log home. In fact, from the curb, the facade resembles a traditionally-built stud-frame home.

"The 'Oakwood' design illustrates the timber-framing method," Hasselbeck said; "we specialize in this form of structure for new homes, additions and commercial buildings. Alternative Contracting cuts its own framing members at its mill in Cambria.

The model home will be shown open by Carol Grieco of Hunt Real Estate on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. This 2,900 square foot home sells for $277,000. Bridlewood South is in the Meadowlakes community off Clarence Center Road.

For more information, call the builder at 731-4507 or Carol Grieco at 633-5350.

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