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Timber frame sets lake house apart

The frame on Don and B.J. Hopper's new house on Lake Murray is up -- but you won't find a nail or stud anywhere in sight.

The Hoppers are using a centuries- old method of house building that is gaining popularity again across the country.

They are building the house with timbers that link together and wooden pegs that hold them in place.The artisan-style frame is, in fact, the showpiece of the new house. It will be visible from the inside once construction is complete.

"I'm a wood lover," B.J. Hopper said. "There's just something authentic and honest about the fact that they're just big timbers. It's close to nature."

The Hoppers, who built three homes on Lake Murray in the 1960s and 1970s before moving to Columbia, got the idea for the timber frame home from a friend who built one in Beaufort.

The couple had moved to Dataw Island in recent years and planned to retire there.

"When the time came, we got homesick for Columbia and the lake," Hopper said. "This is the last home we're going to build."

When they started planning their new house in the Harbour Watch lakeside community in Leesville, they looked for a local Timberpeg representative and found Columbia architect Steve Beckham.

Beckham started Palmetto Timber Frames about a year and a half ago, and this is the first local project his firm has handled. He took a basic floor plan from the Timberpeg company, which he represents, and tweaked it to match the Hopper's needs.

The 2,800-square-foot home has four bedrooms, including a furnished room over the garage, and 3 1/2 baths. "We wanted to have enoughcontinued.

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