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Santa Cruz Timberframes

Karl Bareis is a builder specializing in one-of-a-kind timber frame structures. Based in Santa Cruz, CA, Karl has had an ongoing relationship with traditional and rural Japan for over thirty years.

Santa Cruz Timberframes

We specialize in…

  • Joinery

  • Barns

  • Custom Doors & Windows

  • Tea Houses

  • Timber Frames

  • Roof Water Catchment Systems

Santa Cruz Timberframes

Very soon after arriving in Japan in 1969, I began to take long walks away from the cities and into the countryside dotted with fields and villages. Meandering pathways led through rural settings with individual homes clustered in distinct groupings along river banks or against hillsides.

Even the eyes of a neophyte could quickly see a contrast in scale between the crowded cities and the well-endowed landholdings of the farmers…not just the scale of the houses, but the obvious material abundance of the people as expressed in the details in architecture, the careful upkeep of venerable straw thatching, or the complexity of heavy gray-tiled roofs.

From this simple beginning I came to love Japanese culture and eventually found a way to work in Kyoto as an apprentice carpenter. Learning to work with the Japanese tools and measurements put me in touch with the Japanese builder’s logic, a systematic language which was slowly revealed through repetition. It includes a basic understanding about building as well as the specific uses of different types of wood.

These are buildings where the finished product suggests a long term commitment to sustainability, and which are expressly designed to last long enough to allow the forest to recover. Each structure is analyzed to withstand an earthquake of 8.0, and 100 MPH winds. The final product should last well into the twenty-second century.

Referred by: Mike Hartrich

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2 Customer Testimonials
  1. Joan Koff says:

    I cannot speak more highly of Karl Bareis. We were in an impossible spot–our home, built before 1903, was sliding slowly down its steep hill. We owned the place since 1971 and it was rented to family. We could not demolish and rebuild the home because the lot is too steep by today’s standards; our family needed to vacate immediately; there was risk of losing the property down the hill and risk to our neighbors down the hill. A bad bad situation. We live far from this property and could not supervise directly without taking a 5 hour flight first. We needed a miracle. Then, Karl Bareis, a dear old friend appeared. He patiently took control of the project. It was enormous for us–plans had to be quickly but expertly drawn, approved and then executed. Sounds easy–it wasn’t easy. There were snags and delays and worse all along. The project required that Karl drive from Santa Cruz to Mill Valley, California very often. Sometimes, he would have to stay overnight–sort of camping in a cold empty building so that he could be present for one phase or another. There were building commission hassles and work stoppages that required delicate and persistent pressure to overcome. There were subs who didn’t do what they said they would–new folks needed to be hired. There was exasperation over irrational delays and irrational expectations that the property could be completely remodeled and approved. Neighbors had to be appeased and helped to see that the project would actually help the community in the long run. There were thousands of details to manage and evaluate correctly. There were thousands of pages of drawings and designs that needed to be produced and approved by architects and then administrators. Needless to say, this all took a while–about two years. But, Karl stayed at the helm. The project has now been complete for about 5 years. The home is restored and rented. So, if you have a difficult and complex construction job that needs a person who has the qualities of: knowledge; persistence; highly skilled craftsmanship; perseverance; honesty and decency–call Karl.

  2. Ben Slotover says:

    I had the pleasure of working with Karl building my ‘dream house’ in the redwoods above Santa Cruz. Not once did I regret my decision. Karl’s knowledge of using wood to maximum aesthetic effect is matched only by his experience of construction methods both conventional and specialised. The house ended up looking better than I could have imagined. I don’t know if Karl would describe himself as an Artisan but the buildings he creates are closer to unique works of Art than mere structures.

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