Modular Barn Frequently Asked Questions

We created the Modular Barn Home range in order to help our customers visualise homes wrapped around the timberframe designs that we have developed through the years, which we call our Modular Barn Frames.


Although we work with customers to design bespoke frames and spaces, we have seen through the years that most frames end up being one of three widths, and most frames are made up of bays that the customer would like to be as big as possible. In addition to most of the timber sizes and spans being very similar in most bespoke designs, the connection details (joints between the timber members) are often the same.

So in effect, many bespoke designs end up being very similar in that the customers wanted to “get the most out of the timber as possible” and also “wanted to get the most bang for their buck overall”. As a result of working through dozens of these projects we decided to make everyone’s job easier and design a “fixed but flexible” set of modules from which almost any home design could be configured.

Our goal is to help you, the customer, design the home of your dreams most efficiently so that your design and build timeline can be as streamlined as possible.

We have completed projects throughout New Zealand and two barn homes are currently under construction at Mohaka River Farm where we are based. So, it should not be any problem to have you walk through an example of the specific frame you are interested in although we will need to arrange a tour to suit our clients.

We have been working in traditional post and beam construction in New Zealand since we started just outside of Nelson, almost 20 years ago. Since then we have completed over 50 new timberframe projects and have completed 6 antique frame projects with two more in the pipeline for 2024.

After the foundation is prepared, we can deliver and erect your barn frame in one week. Once the frame is erected, Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) can be installed, depending on the size of the barn, in as little as 4 or 5 days. Alternatively, pre-nailed frames and conventional NZ construction methods can be used to enclose the frame.  From there, the finish out will take no longer than any other custom home.

The main difference is appearance (Macrocarpa is more golden and Douglas fir is more red – both look very similar if left mill-finished with the salt-solution preserving finish) but other differences are in strength (Douglas fir being stronger and stiffer) and durability outdoors (untreated heart Macrocarpa being suitable for limited weather exposure) .


Barn homes are now highly regarded in construction and design magazines. Architectural Digest (USA) regularly runs articles featuring restored barn homes, and other articles featuring barn homes appear continually in publications as diverse as Victorian Homes and Timber Homes Illustrated. If you search in Pinterest you will see the rise in popularity of barn homes.

Our almost 20 years experience with traditional post and beam construction in NZ encourages us that it is a very unique and special project that includes a traditional post and beam frame made from new or historic timber.  We are not aware of any of our past clients ever having any difficulty in selling their houses. The constant influx of UK, European and North American immigrants to NZ also provides a steady stream of potential buyers.

No, aside from the “givens” of post locations, bay sizes, tie-beam heights and knee-wall heights, etc. in your final frame configuration. For some, the given characteristics of the barn frame actually help in the design process and become features in the final project.

You can use one barn or several, add lofts, and even use conventional framing to make additions to the barn frame.

Our Modular Barn Home Range can give you an idea of the flexibility offered with either antique or new barns.

The short answer is that they will add about $750-$1000 plus GST per square meter of floor area of the frame to the cost of a comparable custom home without a timberframe.

This is a little conservative because most houses that use our frames integrate the frame into the structure of the home, thereby reducing the cost of conventional framing and the associated labour.

So, if you added a 6m wide by 13.8m frame with two mezzanine spaces to your home it would be approximately 138 square meters of floor space that the frame was offering. The frame in the case would cost about $100,000 plus GST plus the cost of raising the frame on your site.

Our frames are typically included in “mid to upper range” builds, where people are spending in the range of $4,000-$7,000 per square meter of home.

We do not say this to put you off, if you are serious about building a home around our frames then please contact us – we’re used to being creative in helping people accomplish their dreams!.

Our frames are typically ready for delivery a month or two before the foundation has been completed. In the best case, we can provide you a frame in less than four months, assuming we all move through the design process quickly!

Not at all. You can use any type of roofing, cladding, and interior finishes available for conventionally constructed buildings. Barns wrapped in SIPs can have roofs of metal, slate, cedar shingles, copper, thatch and asphalt shingles. Exterior cladding can be stone, wood, stucco, brick or any combination of materials. Interior finishes also can be anything from textured and painted gib board to stone and antique barn wood.

Barn homes can be built on concrete slabs, on wood-framed floors sitting on piles and bearers, and on full basements. You can finish the floors in anything you like, including carpet, tile, wood or stained concrete.  Typically in NZ with a flat-ish site, concrete foundations with a concrete slab will be your most economic option. Slabs of about 100mm thickness usually suffice with thickenings under each post.

Yes, Heritage Timbercraft offers a complete design service including Building Consents.

Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs, are a highly energy-efficient and labour-saving way to enclose an historic timber frame, and have been used in new construction for decades in North America. They are basically panelized walls, replacing in one step: framing, sheathing, and insulation.  They typically consist of two layers of OSB (oriented strand board) or similar with a high density polyurethane foam sandwiched between. Since the Christchurch earthquake they are more readily available in NZ and are becoming a viable option for a barn homes wall and/or roof systems. A number of our clients are including this in their barns.

No, you can use conventional 90/140 x 45 framing around the timbers and insulate with fiberglass, wool, polyester or other insulation.

It is worthwhile to consider SIPs for the roofing due to the high insulation values and speed of installation.

Yes, Metalcraft Insulated Panels have Codemark compliance for their full range which includes fixing and exterior details.

We have a few projects under our belts with Metalcraft panels and have worked through many details specific to timberframes.

We have worked with Metalcraft and SelectSIP who both have excellent systems for their panels. One key when selecting panels is to have an approved installer that is enthusiastic about working for you and also with our timber frames.

The answer really depends on how you measure cost effectiveness. Often people take a DIY approach and end up making mistakes that cost both time and money. They can also end up with a poorly built, inefficient home that costs more to operate and has a lower resale value.

In realising this, we are developing relationships with reputable, enthusiastic owners of small building companies and making the effort to design homes with them that are efficient to build, operate and maintain.

We’re also gaining feedback from our customers with every project and feeding that into our designs in an effort to continually improve our offerings.

So, with an investment as large as a home we recommend that people take a wholistic approach to efficiency and decide from that vantage point.

In short, we hope that one of our Builder Partners will provide you with the most efficient method for building your barn home.

If you are interested, please look through our Modular Homes and contact us about the designs you like. We can provide you with an estimate of the barn frame used in that design.