Happy Valley Farmhouse


This project was right up my alley; a large, three level farm house with a matching barn. My clients brought me their well thought out plan ideas but needed to have it put together structurally. They also wanted a creative exterior with lots of trim details which I provided mainly in the large posts supporting the wrap around deck.

I’ve included the plan images in the gallery along with detailed progress photos


arrow Click on the images below to view the Project Gallery – please note: you may use the arrow keys below the gallery to scroll through each set of images if you don’t want to start from the beginning.

The house is located up the hillside and tucked into the bank creating a walkout basement and a level entry on the road side. The barn is nicely tucked away on one side of the orchard so as not to intrude on views from the house. My clients were adamant about things being symmetrical and the plan really lent itself well to this. Having the wrap around deck allowed for several support piers which broke up the length of the walls. They are fairly large at 30” x 30” square with trim detail that complements the rest of the exterior. You get a sense of the lot grade from this elevation. The entry porch on the left side required some retaining wall to create space around it while the right side required walls stepping down to driveway grade. This is the view as you enter the garage. You’ll see on the lower floor plan that the posts on each side of the garage doors are actually flush with the wall. (the upper deck surface is actually the ceiling of the garage) I wanted to mimic the look of the upper deck posts so these are half (false) posts projecting out from the wall face. A bit tricky but maintained the look.To maintain the look of the wrap around porch roof, the upper floor is set back from the front entry wall. In the end, this feature was relatively easy to achieve but the process of creating structural bearing took a ton of trial and error. With the help of a truss designer I created a truss which comprised the upper floor walls and porch roof all in one shot. You’ll see in the progress photos how this went together; it was a real victory to have come up with such a simple solution.The real beauty of this house is the simplicity of it’s construction. While there are some complexities to the roof, the rectangular shape is easy to construct and lends itself well to a symmetrical exterior. The covered decks are huge at over half the size of the main level; nearly 2100 sq.ft. living space with 1287 sq.ft. decks. That’s my kinda house ! The upper level is as big as most one level homes. At 1480 sq.ft. it’s built with family in mind. There bedrooms are large with room for the kids to grow and a family room with views from all sides. The beauty of the upper floor is the entire structure is created with engineered trusses. (with the exception of interior walls) The roof was built on the ground in sections and lifted into place by crane. (see progress photos)Again, building shape comes into play here for simplicity of construction; bearing was easy with two exterior walls and a bearing wall down the center. Not to say this was an “easy” design but keeping the structure simple allows more cost to be allocated to finishing. This of course will make all the difference on the finished look of any house. This elevation of the barn shows the side entry door leading into a stairwell to the upper level storage area. Finishes were kept simple with board & batten siding yet still complementing the style of the house.The large, south facing window on the rear elevation is actually a small indoor greenhouse, located to maximize sun with three skylights above. The right and rear elevations are similar of course, as the building is symmetrical and rectangular. I’ve used double fascias and extra wide trim details on all the window and door openings to match the house.The main level is multi-purpose…well, it’s more than just a barn, as it’s got a greenhouse, a small bath and an enclosed stairwell to the upper level. The upper level is wide open storage with great views. I suppose people won’t be spending a lot of time hanging out in the storage area but when they do, they’ll be able to survey the surrounding orchard with ease ! This is where I started in August 2012, standing at the edge of the gravel driveway. Directly in front of me at the top right part of the hillside is about the main floor level of the kitchen corner of the house. Off to the left of the large evergreen and down the hill a little will be the barn location. You can easily correlate this from the site plan image. One of my challenges was to create a driveway which both enters the garage end of the house and splits off down the hill to the barn. This is where a topographical survey proves invaluable. This is the barn site, just off to the left of the house. You can just see down the hill off to the right there’s another barn very similar to the one I designed. My client loved this barn and discussed with the neighbour having a similar structure to which he happily agreed. This is looking back toward the top of the driveway. You can just see my truck parked up at the top of the road. I’m standing about main level height where the master bedroom will be located. I’m standing here imagining a three level house with a walkout basement and a driveway passing by me to the right. My brain was on overdrive contemplating how to regrade the driveway to reduce it’s slope and allow the perfect transition into the lower floor garage doors. All I can say is I burned through a lot of paper and pencils sketching and tracing over the survey info to make it happen ! This is the view I’m trying to take advantage of and keep the house as high up on the hill as possible for. It was a delicate balance ensuring the house was high enough for the view and at just the right height for the garage entry. This is mid-April 2013 with the foundation excavated and forming started. The driveway has been graded and you can see behind where the black truck is parked will be the entrance to the garage. The pile of material to the left of the large tree is the barn location. Looking immediately to the left of the white truck, you can see the split in the driveway heading off across the front deck area toward the barn. This gives a much clearer picture of the grade difference from front to back on the house. Now that things are in place, I can rest easier knowing things worked out. Not that I doubted it, but of course it’s natural to second guess at times that what you were imagining 8 months previous will work properly when it’s built today. Regardless, it worked ! This is mid-May 2013 and the garage (basement level) walls are now framed. The driveway over to the barn has been raised up closer to it’s final grade along the length of the house. You can see the barn walls are now formed up off to the left. Not a bad view from the rec room on the lower level ! These are the piers which will support the posts on the covered front entry. Of course this will be back filled and looks a bit odd right now, but the piers have to meet solid bearing and it’s the easiest way when things are excavated to this level.Here’s the view from the hill on the rear of the house. It gives some perspective on the lake views and the surrounding orchard. It’s really a beautiful, wide open site. Interesting tidbit of information….there’s a grey house out front to the left. Just to the right is a little green roofed shed. Several years ago I lived in the cabin to the right of the shed so I was quite familiar with the site when I initially came to look. Living in the middle of an orchard is much different that on a city street. It’s pretty awesome. Here are the barn walls formed and poured. The square piers in the center are for upper level support beams. We’re now into the beginning of June 2013, the barn forms are stripped, it’s been backfilled and you can see the decks have been framed onto the house. I really liked this shot with the hills in the background. I’m anxious to take the same picture when it’s all complete.The house is beginning to take a little more shape and the driveway edges have ben further regraded. This was an exciting day for me as the roof trusses have been delivered and are sitting over by the garage entry doors. Only the main floor walls are left to frame and then the roof goes on. The trusses, floor system and beams are also on site for the barn. Honestly, I think I included this photo because I finally managed to get my new camera settings correct; it turned out just as I wanted. I’m still in the trial and error process but it’s coming ! Here I’m looking back at the house from the driveway between the house and barn. You can see the wide concrete bases at the post bottoms; these will be added to more to create bases for the 30” square stone piers. I’m standing on the main floor deck looking down at the roof trusses. These trusses have a 20” deep section of floor on the bottom and span across then entire depth of the house from porch to porch. You’ll see in future photos how simply this goes together. This is the main floor and exterior deck surfaces with sheathing. The barn is fully backfilled and ready for wall framing to begin. Not a bad view !!.Another shot of the barn. You can see where the entry door is located in the middle, the bath and greenhouse are off to the top right and the side entry is formed to the left. We are now at the end of June 2013 and it’s an exciting day. I mean how can it not be exciting when there’s a big ol’ crane backing down the driveway. If that’s not excuse enough to get out the camera, I don’t know what is ! These are the roof trusses, pre-assembled on the ground with floor sheathing completed. They are all ready to be lifted onto the roof by crane. Here’s the end porch off the master bedroom that will have stairs coming down to grade at the side of the house. I’m really drawn to this part of the porch, it’s going to be an interesting viewpoint.Another view of the pre-built roof sections ready to be lifted into place. These will form the narrow dormers of the family room and second bedroom upstairs. The crane is in place and just about to hook up the first section of roof. Here we go !We stopped. The crane had to stop, drop the truss and reposition in order to place the truss without catching the side of the porch. A slight delay but it felt like it took forever since it was so close the first time.Back in action again and about half-way there.The trusses are in place and the final location is just being tweaked before hooking up the second section.Here you can see how simple the truss is in comparison to framing the upper floor, then walls and roof. The left side of the truss (lake side) acts as the covered roof for the porch, the middle section forms the interior living space ad the side closest mimics the porch shape across the rear of the house. I had to leave at this point but the next round of photos will have the remainder of the roof installed. I could have used a zoom lens here but I caught a glimpse of the house as I was driving up the road and just loved how it looked. July 27, 2013This will be the view as you approach the house from the top of the driveway. The double garage is right where the trailer sits.A little closer shot from about half way down the drivewayNow it's looking like something ! The barn foundation is off to the left in the background. The front porch pad and steps are poured but the piers and roof are yet to be installed. A better view of the entry porch area from up the hillside. This is the master bedroom end of the house. Stairs will lead from the deck down to grade where you see the concrete step up towards the left.Looking out one of the the master bedroom windows toward the barn.This is just awesome. It was a really sunny day and the porch was completely shaded. It's quite deep and I put 36' overhangs all around. I'm loving the covered deck. Once the large stone piers and tapered posts are installed, it will give the house much more 'bulk'.I'm standing at the entrance to the barn looking back up the driveway. I really like the roof on this house. It's simple, steep and symmetrical; my favourite !Oct 12 / 13. The house and barn are close to having siding applied. I've kept the look of the wrap around roof on the whole house but only two sides actually have the covered deck. It's really coming together now that the piers framing has started.The house has a commanding presence when you're standing down the hillside.I'm loving the big piers. You really can't get away with anything smaller on a house this size.The stone looks awesome. A square wood column will be framed up to the underside of the deck and continue through the the upper level.Notice how the roof drain is being concealed inside he column framing.These look a bit disproportionate right now but the 6x6 post will eventually be covered with a tapered wood post.There's still a lot of work to go here. The ceiling finish is 1x8 Cedar lap siding. Going to look amazing but labour intensive.This gives an idea of the upper floor interior ceiling lines. The flat area in the center is 9ft. Looking from the top of the stairs into the family room.Here's the 1x8 Cedar soffitt material. The strip vents are barely visible which is nice. Many times you'd see a circular vent installed here.Looking into the dining area from the back of the kitchen. You can see here that the ceiling is actually the bottom of the attic trusses. The actual 'floor joist' portion of the truss is 20' deep. I had to take a picture of this. Can't remember the last new home I was in where I saw copper. Its nice to see.I scratched my head over this area of deck for a while. Notice how it's cantilevered in two directions past the concrete wall below it. I love the choice of the entry door and the Prairie Style glass. Front entry porch viewed from the upper grade level. Gables, gables and more gables. Gotta love it.The barn is almost ready for siding. I always spec a double fascia. It always gets omitted but not here. Just a simple little detail that makes a big difference.I've always extended piers under posts in garages well above the slab level. Just too easy to bump it with a vehicle and wham...the post comes loose. Not to say you couldn't knock this one down if you tried but there's more safety factor here.The upper floor of the barn gives lots of area for storage.I haven't done winders in a long time but there simply was no way around it here. I went up and down a couple of times and it was a breeze. These guys have done this before. Love the racks for painting and staining. Rear view of barn looking back to the house. The large window with skylights above is the barn's greenhouse. Pretty coool !!