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Pine, poplar or hardwood?

Posts: 7
Location: NW Ohio, soon-to-be SE Ohio
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We purchased a 42x22 Gambrel barn plan to build as a house. We found a few sawmills who can supply the cut list. The first is a larger operation (they also sell timber frame kits) and they were quite a bit cheaper than our other choice. Instead of white pine, he priced all poplar (the location is SE Ohio) Is the poplar a suitable sub for the plan-recommended white pine?
The second sawyer is a smaller operation - he can do white pine, poplar on the 22 footers and honey locust for the decking. OR he can do all hardwood - white oak and honey locust. He priced either package for the same price but higher than the first guy. Would using all hardwood be okay? We get way better vibes from this smaller guy, believe the quality would be better and he did say he could sharpen his pencil on the bid when we told him we had a significantly cheaper bid from someone else.
The plans don't look too complicated, but we come to points where we have questions. we'd like to put the barn up ourselves, but we're also getting prices from a few different Amish to put it up for us, but (amazingly to me) most Amish in the area only do pole buildings! If there's anyone in SE ohio who would like a paid job of possibly helping us out, please let us know.
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Hi Lin,

First thing, since I haven't written to you before...welcome to Permise!!

I am a professional builder in the traditional and natural modalities. I even started my career as a traditionally apprenticed Barnwright to Old Order Amish in Illinois, and it is a shame that so many have lost this craft from within the culture. The Amish in general are losing more and more each year, and we work with several Amish Crews in Ohio, so know the "challenges" the culture is facing.

I provide general consulting here at Permise as a volunteer staff, and moderator of this forum. Anything you are will to post here publicly I will gladly share my "opinions" on. If you choose to seek more in depth insight offline within my professional capacities, that is fine also, yet I will still make the project "public" so others may benefit from your experience.

First some questions:

Is the Popular that you are being quoted a "Yellow Poplar" (Liriodendron tulipifera) which is a Magnolia, or a "True Poplar" (also know as Big Tooth Aspen - Populus ssp.?)

Have you built before?

Remember, working with hardwoods like Oak and locust is way more challenging in weight, jointing and fastening modalities. Metal fasteners are not always germane as they can (and often do) stain and oxidise heavily in the acidic Oak sp. This oxidation can be to the point of rendering the metal fastener compromised, and why some PE demand only SS (stainless steel) be use and it be of a "bolt and through connection" not nails or just screws alone.

Is your "plans" a complete "blueprint" with PE approval and ready for local building officials to approve?

Are they for "stick built" in green lumber approved or are these plans for a timber frame?

If the second Sawyer is willing to "sharpen his pencil" and you have a good rapport with them...go that way. Relationships are everything in having a home facilitated.

If you are considering having the work done for you, then start part of your search again, as you can have kits cut all over the place, even out of state for very competitive prices, delivered and raised on a foundation you facilitate, or build yourself to the plan specifications.

You could also sponsor workshop, or provide space for a Timberwright to teach you and facilitate a timber frame with you at your location. This usually cost about $10 to $20 per square foot of designed frame plus materials, and per diem for the Timberwright, which is about half of what most kits cost.


Posts: 12
Location: Central North Carolina
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I know this thread has been silent for a few years but I am curious as to what became of your project? What species did you use? Did you go with the poplar?
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