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ANATOMY OF A LOG BUILDING

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WOODWRIGHT SHOP

TIM KILBY

 

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TIM@TKILBY.COM

636 . 987 . 2679

 

Consultations

After nearly 20 years of experience, my knowledge of the original construction techniques of log and timber structures and how to reproduce them has been put to good use at so many places around the entire United States. Early on, I gained an interest for dismantling structures, and learned that there was a time line and a common thread to be aware of, no matter how unique the building seemed.  Patterns emerged that are specific to certain cultures, such as German or Anglo, while these patterns often differ from one geographical region to another.  With the exception of Dendrochronolgy (a scientific method of dating) the logs and timbers themselves won't give you everything you need to know as builders have used logs for hundreds of years.  It is not simply the fact that there are logs in the wall that’s important, but, how the logs are arranged, the building (floor plan), the fenestration, and type of nails, siding, flooring and so forth, that give you the real story of the house. The time I spend on a project as the historical construction consultant is pre-determined before the job begins.  I should be given enough time at regular intervals to maintain a pulse on the restoration progress.  Sometimes this may call for at least one site visit per week. Many times I've caught mistakes, in enough time to get the job back on track with little or no down time.  During these site visits, I talk with the crews, ask and answer questions, demonstrate technique, and review upcoming work and inspect work done.  For out of town work, this may mean my visits are scheduled for specific phases of the job.  This can be for documenting a structure or supervising the dismantling of a structure if the structure is to be moved so the proper information has been gathered for the planning stage or  I may be scheduled to return to the site during critical phases like chinking when a lesson is best done on site.  My historical construction consultant services can be considered an insurance policy, to insure the historical integrity of your restoration.

Architectural Forensics:
  It is very rare to find structures that exist today just as they did when originally built. It is expected, that a major remodel has taken place every 30-50 years and minor changes taking place all the time.  Just as we do today.  In order to restore a building to its original build, you must analyze every aspect of the building available for viewing.  Then you analyze the building that is not as visible and the traces of what is missing.
For example, we would know that an 1820's house would not have manufactured 3" flooring installed with wire nails.  We would expect to find at least one other set of nail holes (square) in the in the joist as well.  The spacing of the holes will give us a good indications of the width of the floor boards.  This simple example shows the importance of looking for what is not there and paying attention to the hidden clues.  When doing architectural forensics, I look for the original layer of fabric the house and document the changes and alterations of the structure. I'm looking at paint and other finishes, type of mortar used, roofing material, ghost marks of missing material, as well as the overall arrangement of the house including staircase placement, fenestration, chimneys, etc. All of these components are important in and of themselves but must be balanced with the written documentation, oral history, economics of the builder and of the times as well as regional buildings traditions.  Architectural analysis is the most important part of the planning stage, and guides everything that follows. It will give you the historical blue print needed for a successful restoration.

Planning & Project Director: After the fieldwork, all photographs, measurements and drawings are completed, the job is now ready for the planning stage.  In this stage, the field work, research and documentation come together.  The decision is made of what to keep, what was original to the period of significance and how the building is to be interpreted.  This will normally involve a historian, architect, and myself as a historical construction consultant. More often than not there will not be a qualified restoration contractor in the area. Local contractors are often used with the help of local workers and artisans to aid in carrying out the restoration.  When I am the historical construction consultant, I oversee the overall historical integrity of the work.  I work with the contractor by spec-ing out the replacement elements such as flooring, timbers, doors, hardware, etc..  I can also help find the resources for these.  I also work closely with the crew and artisans to insure all work is being done historically correct, using the same tools and materials as the original builder.  

"I welcome the opportunity to work with private home owners as well.  Many times I am asked to come their site to determine if a project is feasible or not.  Often there is a question of whether a building is in good enough condition to restore or can I help a client through the process of a log replacement, chinking or jacking.  My experience may save you a great amount of time and frustration."

 

  

 

 

 

 

 
 
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