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Half Timbered House

by Gary James

Half-timbered houseI find the most requested fantasy building is the Elizabethan-style half-timbered house. This example is quite large and is more suitable as a manor house, inn or village hall. Smaller versions would make nice standard dwellings, and a cluster of similar houses looks quaint and attractive.

This house uses standard <u>foamcore building techniques</u> with the addition of some balsa wood timbers and car mesh 'leaded' windows.


  1. Foamcore for the walls, thick card for the roof and cereal box card for the roof tiles.

  2. Balsa wood for the wall timbers - I use thick wood and cut it into timbers myself

  3. Car repair mesh for the windows

  4. MDF, hardboard, masonite or plywood for the base.


Ground storey: 120mm by 90mm and 55mm high

Upper storey: 135mm by 110mm and 50mm high<br />

Roof: 90mm high, and the same dimensions as the upper storey.<br />

Overall height: 200mm to the ridge of the roof.


The house is constructed as three removable sections - the ground storey, upper storey and roof. This makes the inside of the building accessible during gameplay and also makes the finished building easier to store.

Ground storey

First storeyThis is a simple four-wall building constructed using my usual overlapping corners, as explained in the foamcore techniques section. Cut the 8 pieces that you will need but don't glue them together until you have cut out the door and windows:

To make the meshed windows first cut out your window opening through the outer layer of foamcore. Then cut into the back of the foamcore part-through, and rip out a recess to take the mesh. Finally, cover the mesh and recess with a second patch of foamcore or with the inner skin of the wall. Paint the side that will go to the mesh black before fixing it in place.

Half Timbered HouseI discovered that painting would have been a lot easier if I had painted the edges of the window opening with the external wall paint before inserting the mesh and assembling the window.

The door is made by cutting the doorway out of the outer layer of the foamcore and then making a planked wood effect on the inner layer of foamcore. See the Gothic Church for clearer instructions on this. You can make a balsa wood door if you prefer. The corners are covered with quoin stones cut from cereal box card. These serve to strengthen the corners and hide the raw foamcore edge.

Upper storey

Half Timbered HouseThe upper storey is made slightly differently. I first cut the heavy balsa-wood beams for the corners, top and bottom edge of the room. I then cut the foamcore wall sections and made the windows, as above.

Then I glued the timbers around the front and back, and to the top and bottom of the sides, like this. The sides share the same corner timbers as the front and back. The foamcore walls sit inside the balsa-wood timbers, like a picture frame.

WallsThe four walls were then glued together at the corners to make the upper room. Be sure to keep the walls square. A fast-setting glue, such as a hot glue gun, helps here. To make the floor I drew around the inside of the walls onto a piece of foamcore, cut it out and glued it in place. The other diagonal timbers are just thin, decorative strips of balsa-wood glued onto the surface of the wall. Carve the edges with a craft knife to make them wavey, and more like an old timber beam.

Now the upper storey can be stacked on top of the ground storey. I then turned the whole thing upside down and drew around the lower storey to mark its walls onto the floor of the upper storey.

Floor beamsThen I glued lots of short balsa wood beams to the floor of the upper storey, leaving a slight gap between the end of the beam and the pencil mark showing the position of the lower storey, like this. This lets the upper storey sit on the lower one, and the beams keep it in place.


The roof is made just like the roof of the Gothic Church. I cut the gable ends (the triangular 'walls' at each end of the roof) out of foamcore, but I put a curve on the roof slope for a more rustic appearance. I made a third triangle for extra support in the centre, like this:

Half Timbered HouseI made the roof from two rectangles of cardboard. Scoring the cardboard with a sharp knife will make it easier to bend. Glue the rectangles of card to the gable ends. Make the roof big enough to extend well over the gable ends.

Half Timbered HouseThe roof tiles were made from strips of cardboard, cut part-through to make a 'comb' effect. These were glued onto the roof in strips, starting at the bottom and overlapping each strip with the next right up to the roof ridge. The ridge was finished off with a row of individual tiles, creased and glued over the join.

Strips of balsa wood were glued onto the gable ends, just beneath the roof, to give the appearence of more beams. (This is easier to do if you draw around the gable ends onto the balsa wood and cut them out before assembling the roof). The chimney is just a smaller version of the walls, finished with quoin stones in the same way. It was glued straight on top of the roof tiles.

Painting and finishing

Half Timbered HouseThe walls were painted with textured masonry paint. This comes in huge tins, but I found some small sample pots at one of my DIY (Hardware) stores.

The balsa wood and door were painted with thinned Bestial Brown and then dry-brushed with light brown. The roof was painted with very dark blue (Midnight Blue darkened with black) and then dry-brushed with Elf grey to pick out the tiles. The MDF base was finished in sand and gravel, painted with very dilute Snakebite Leather, and drybrushed with light brown with grey around the walls to give the impression of a stoney path. Static grass flock and longer field-grass clumps were glued on to finish the effect.

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