The slogan for Yankee Barn Homes is “Post. Beam. Dream.” Spend a few minutes exploring the Grantham, N.H., company’s website, and you’ll see just how perfect that slogan is, because that’s exactly what happens: With each click on a picture of a stunning post-and-beam house, you lose yourself in a fantasy of what your very own Yankee Barn Home might look like.
And that’s exactly where Ron and Leslie Pferchy found themselves, and how Loon Crossing – a stunning 2,355-square foot home, with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, soaring ceilings, and room to grow – came to be.The Maryland couple leaves the D.C. area, where they work and live, whenever possible, Leslie Pferchy said. And in a few years, when Ron retires, they will leave for good. Now, thanks to Yankee Barn Homes, they know where they will be going.
It’s a bit of a winding tale, how the Pferchys came to build their Yankee Barn home. In 2006, the couple purchased land on Pleasant Lake in New London, N.H., where Leslie’s family has lived and spent summers for decades. At the time, they heard about Yankee Barn Homes through word-of-mouth and checked out the company. They even sat with a designer to create plans for their dream home, but they never moved forward.
Sitting tight turned out to be wise: In 2009, when Edith, a friend and neighbor in her 90s, decided to sell her camp next to Leslie’s family’s place, the Pferchys jumped at the opportunity, selling their first New London property and buying Edith’s. For eight years, they vacationed at the cottage, all the while planning to build a four-season house for their retirement, with serene Pleasant Lake as a backdrop and with parents and other family nearby. In 2017, with retirement in the not-so-distant future and summers with grandkids to think of, it was finally time to make the leap. They went back to Yankee Barn Homes and restarted the process, hoping to adapt their original design to the new location.
Yankee Barns was ready. The couple worked with design manager Kerri Terwilliger on their home, and it’s clear from talking to Terwilliger and the Pferchys that they formed a bond.
Terwilliger says that’s a big part of it: When she designs a home, it’s important to establish a relationship with her clients. She wants the scoop, right down to the nitty-gritty of their day-to-day so she can design a home that will work for them: “Is one of you watching TV late at night while the other is sleeping? What’s your routine? When you’re drinking your morning coffee overlooking the lake, do you want to be in a comfy chair or sitting at the dining room table?”
“There’s a certain level of nosiness,” Terwilliger said. But knowing the family and how the home will be used helps her design the perfect house. Will holidays be hosted there? These things matter.
Leslie Pferchy recalls the day she told Terwilliger that she was nervous her two big dogs would think the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the lake were doors — and make a run at them. No problem, Terwilliger said. With the help of a computer-assisted design program, she was able to shorten the windows and give the Pferchys peace of mind.
When Pferchy wanted to do something special in her grandson’s room, Terwilliger came up with just the right thing: A ship theme, complete with a porthole and the three-person bunk that Pferchy’s father, a retired Naval officer, had long ago rescued from a submarine. Terwilliger said the idea came to her in the middle of the night. Now it’s one of Leslie’s favorite rooms, melding family history and her grandson’s interests into a very sweet space.
The Yankee Barn Homes process is unique. The company is celebrating its 50th year, having been started on Cape Cod in 1969, when Emil Hanslin set out to design timber frame homes. According to the company’s website, Hanslin got his start as the developer of New Seabury, a residential community in Mashpee. He had the idea that the post-and-beam style could be the basis of a nice house, and he developed a design he called the “Mark I,” which he began producing in Falmouth that year.
The Mark I was a complete home package that could be assembled on a prepared foundation in five days. Sales were initially focused on Greater Boston, but when Life magazine did a feature on the houses, it spurred growth that allowed the company to relocate to Grantham in 1973. Grantham is home to a planned community called Eastman, which was designed to be an environmentally conscious development of seasonal homes that fit in with and had minimal impact on the area’s natural beauty. Yankee Barn Homes was a perfect match.
According to Jeffrey Rosen, an owner and creative director at Yankee Barn Homes, the early designs were fairly simple. You could create different size and shape homes, but it was a lot like playing Tetris or building with blocks. That’s far from the case today. Rosen was an interior designer in New York City who discovered Yankee Barn Homes in an online search when he set out to build a spec house on Long Island. He loved the process – and the end product. There was a bidding war when his spec house went on the market. Eventually he had an opportunity to buy into the business. Now he and the company — which remains family-sized with about 20 employees, Rosen said — is designing award-winning homes that are anywhere from 1,200 to 8,000 square feet, from farmhouses to cottages to mid-century modern gems.
(Rosen said if he had to pick a favorite of the Yankee Barn Homes, it would be difficult. But he’s a big fan of Cove Hollow, a hybrid post-and-beam Shingle-style house he calls “a new old house.” It’s in East Hampton, N.Y. Google it for eye candy.)
There’s a lot that sets Yankee Barn Homes apart from traditional stick-built homes. The timber frames — Douglas fir from the Pacific Northwest — are constructed indoors. The company has developed trademarked roof and wall panel systems that fit within the post-and-beam construction and make the homes incredibly tight and energy efficient. And because the structures can be assembled and enclosed fairly quickly, Yankee Barn Homes are constructed year-round.
Yankee Barn designs the homes, but doesn’t finish them — they work in conjunction with the builders their clients hire. Rosen said the company is constructing 14 to 18 homes each year, and while most are in the Northeast, Yankee Barn Homes can be found as far away as Ireland.
For the Pferchys, the efficient construction of their new home is a point of pride. Ron Pferchy says they hope to one day be a net-zero home, using solar panels to power the house. They took a pass on air conditioning, instead positioning windows in parts of the house they knew from experience could be counted on for afternoon breezes, and they installed radiant heat floors and a gas fireplace.
“I have the heat set at 40!” Leslie Pferchy said, “and it’s warm in here.” She was right: On a cold and dreary April day, it was cozy and comfortable.
The Pferchys house, decorated with family heirlooms and wooden loons Leslie’s father carved, went up quickly, Ron Pferchy said, over a six-week period in December 2017 and January 2018. Because Yankee Barn Homes are able to be enclosed so quickly, labor costs are kept in check. While the cost of building a Yankee Barn Home depends on the house size and the amount of timber and glass, a good estimate is $90-$120 per square foot for the Yankee Barn shell package portion. Because the quality of finishes is up to the homeowners, the total cost is hard to nail down, but what Yankee Barn Homes hears from clients is that when all is said and done, it’s an average of $225-$250 per square foot (including the shell) for full finished costs in the Northeast.
For the Pferchys, who hosted their first Thanksgiving at Loon Crossing last year, the price — plus the proximity to family — was just right. Their patience paid off, a post-and-beam dream come true.
See more photos of the home below: