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The North Shore Farmhouse: A Mill-Built Reproduction

A young family realizes the best way to get the old-world quality they want is to start from scratch

Getting the Design Right

Photo by Sarah Violette

At the Connor Homes factory in Middlebury, Vermont, homeowners Bill and April Harb (left side of table) customize their dream house with Connor Homes president Mike Connor (end of table) and Connor Homes architect Avery Hamilton, as TOH TV director of photography Jay Maurer films the scene.

Prepping the Site

Photo by Sarah Violette

TOH TV master carpenter Norm Abram and contractor Erik Kaminski (center) listen as subcontractor Scott McKenzie explains how he uses a battery-powered tying machine to save time setting the rebar for the concrete foundation forms.

On the Factory Floor

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

All the windows, as well as walls, doors, and other parts of a Connor Homes house, are built in the factory in Middlebury, Vermont.

Copper Topper

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

One of the available options for the top of any Connor Homes barn-style garage is a cupola, such as this model chosen by the Harbs.

Special Delivery

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

All the parts of the house—including exterior walls, floor joists, windows, and trim—are pre-built and cut, then wrapped, stacked, and labeled at the Connor Homes factory. Here, a truck is ready to roll to the site of the foundation.

Speed Framing

Photo by Sarah Violette

With the house in pieces on-site, contractor Erik Kaminski's crew begins framing in a certain order specified by the factory. Here, on the first day of framing, Kaminski's crew installs sill plates, floor joists, and subfloor decking. Kaminski estimates that panelization cuts the framing process in half.

Stable Gable

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

A framer from Erik Kaminski's crew connects the gable end on the rear of the garage, assembling the panelized pieces in a process Kaminski describes as similar to putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.

Flying the Cupola

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

A boom truck lifts the pre-built cupola onto the framed roof of the garage, topping off a guest suite separated from the house.

Instant Stairway

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

The Harb stairway, featuring oak treads and poplar risers, was built at the Connor Homes factory and shipped as one 400-pound assembly, for contractor Erik Kaminski and his crew to haul into place and install—in 15 minutes. "This would normally require an experienced finish carpenter two full days to do in place," says Kaminski.

Masters of the Closet

Photo by Sarah Violette

Contractor Erik Kaminski, left, and TOH TV host Kevin O'Connor lay out an ingenious plan for creating clothes-hanging-rods and shelves in the Harb master closet using ½-inch steel plumbing sections purchased at a home center. The $1,000 finished storage system costs far less than offerings from custom closet outfitters.

First Floor

Illustration by Courtesy of Connor Homes

The Harbs modified the Connor Homes Federal-style farmhouse plan, widening the opening between the kitchen and dining room and upgrading to a French door from the family room to the back deck.

Second Floor

Illustration by Courtesy of Connor Homes

The Harbs sacrificed a fourth bedroom on the Connor plan to allow for a master suite.