MH+D Inside Out: Ben Hemberger of Benjamin & Company on 3-D Timber Framing

Ben Hemberger has always been drawn to the romance of timber framing. “It really spoke to me,” Hemberger tells Maine Home+Design. By following his passion, Hemberger ended up in timber framing and then carpentry, and he now owns Benjamin and Company, a full-service homebuilding and timber framing company. Read on to learn why a computer science degree gives Hemberger an edge in the building market and why it’s no longer enough to let a house breathe on its own.

Q. What’s your favorite material to work with?

A. Definitely wood. We use so many different kinds of wood. For timber framing, my local favorites are hemlock and Eastern white pine. We do some work in Douglas fir from the West Coast, but I like local materials. I like knowing that the materials came from somewhere around here.

Q. You studied computer science in college. Has your educational background proved helpful in your career?

A. When it comes to 3-D design, one of the things I’ve done recently is timber design work for other timber framers. Because I know how to easily draw models on the computer in 3D, I’ve created this as a service that I can offer other timber framers. And architects appreciate it, too!

Q. How does that help you when working with architects?

A. Because I can design, we’ve done more and more work with architects. The creative process is exciting for me and the guys on the crew. Architects like that we can sit down with them at the table or computer and work through a problem.

Q. What type of house do you want to be known for?

A. We strive to be known for homes that are not only nice, but comfortable and healthy.

Q. What’s the most important aspect of a comfortable home?

A. It should be easy to keep all spaces in the home comfortable. Old school builders used to say, “Our homes need to breathe,” meaning that they were drafty and inefficient. You don’t hear that as much now. Everyone’s realizing that you can’t just let a house breathe on its own. You want to be able to control how it breathes. Otherwise, the home will be cold and uncomfortable.