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June 02. 2013 4:16PM

Post and beam

Grantham post-and-beam home builder manufactures beauty


This 1,124-square-foot carriage house in Grantham was designed by Yankee Barn with two large gable dormers. (COURTESY)

GRANTHAM — Whether building a 500-square-foot addition or a 6,500-square-foot farmhouse, post-and-beam construction creates the warm homey feel many people are looking for today, said Andrew F. Button, general manager of Yankee Barn Homes.

The company, which employs 21 people, is celebrating its 40th year in Grantham this year.

"This is where we build for everywhere in the United States," Button said.

Over the past decade, Button said he has seen a trend in customers looking to downsize, especially in light of the unpredictable turmoil of today's world, brought home to many by the Boston Marathon bombing.

"People really want to go home and nest, and they want to be comfortable," Button said. "And they want that warm safe feeling and it does lend itself to that. … Post and beam is a lifestyle."

The company was founded in 1969 in Falmouth, Mass., and then moved to its Grantham location in 1973.

"We're a post-and-beam building company. However, we're really a manufacturing company," Button said.

Yankee Barn works with clients to custom design post-and-beam structures, mostly homes, from carriage house, coastal, mountain and classic barn style. The company also makes barns and currently has a project to design a pavilion.

"We can do almost anything, and if post and beam is the lifestyle you know you want," Button said. "You see the finished product and how beautiful it is, but what you don't see is how green it is."

After designing, Yankee Barn manufactures the insulated shell of the structure, which is then shipped to its location where local contractors will assemble it and install plumbing and electricity.

"The windows are pre-installed so when the shell goes up it's weather-tight," Button said.

Before starting the business, founder Emil Hanslin spent years studying the post-and-beam design of New England barns.

"It's a relatively new method because it's only 300 or 400 years old," Button said. "What has changed is the things around it, the R-values, the windows and doors, those things have become far superior to stuff that was built 40 years ago."

R-value is a measure of thermal resistance used in the building and construction industry.

The higher the R-value the less heat or cold passes through the home," said Chris Sevigny director of architectural engineering at Yankee Barn Homes.

Yankee Barn boasts 44, 55 and 66 R-values, which are high in the industry and above current codes, Button said.

Sustainability techniques have always been important to the company, he said. "Back in the '70s they had an R-value of 12, but that was considered really, really high, so being green, having high R-values and building homes really, really tight was always a priority."

The company uses Douglas fir sustainably forested from Washington State. The wood is kiln dried and then stained.

Douglas fir is used by a lot of post-and-beam and timber companies for its strength, Button said.

In its last quarter, Yankee Barn Homes designed and built the insulated frame shells for homes in Ontario, Canada, Newport, Rhode Island, Martha's Vineyard and upstate New York.

"We're definitely spread out where we are building," he said.

Staying in New Hampshire keeps operating costs low, he said, in terms of location and operating expenses.

"It allows us to build this very, very high quality product at a very fair price," Button said.

mpierce@newstote.com