Timber Frame FAQ

How do I start?

Assuming that you have decided what you want in your timber frame home, have established a realistic budget and have purchased the land on which you want to build, the next step is finding a timber frame company who can produce your frame. Our in-house design staff can help you design the timber frame part of your house, but you will need to find an independent architect or designer to design the rest of the house for you and produce the plans needed for construction. If you need assistance in finding an architect or designer, we will be happy to help you.

We also recommend several resources for more information about building a timber frame home:

  • Timber Frame Business Council website has a lot of helpful information about timber frame construction and is a good place to start your research. They also publish a brochure “Building a Timber Frame Home” (contact us and we will be happy to mail you a copy or you can print it from the TFBC website).
  • Timber Home Living Magazine’s Annual Buyer’s Guide (published at the first of each year). The magazine contains some excellent background information on timber frame design and the process of building a timber frame home. (800.826.3893 or www.timberhomeliving.com)

How does the timber frame design process work?

If you have a completed floor plan, site elevations and a plan or photographs of your proposed building site, we will be happy to take this information and try to give you a “ball park” estimate of what your frame will cost. If this cost is within your budget and you would like us to design the frame for you, we will draw up a design contract with you. Design services are generally billed on an hourly basis. Once your frame is designed, engineered and a more exact estimate determined, we will roll the design price into the total cost of the frame.

Can a timber frame work with any home design?

Timber framing can be incorporated in most home designs. Many people, either because of design or cost concerns, choose to use timber frame construction in only certain portions of the home. For example, we often provide trusses for a great room or living room and perhaps for the master bedroom in an otherwise conventionally built home. Regardless of what design you choose, we know that you will love the beautiful wood and quality craftsmanship of your home.

Will I need a general contractor?

We generally recommend that people who are planning to build a home hire a general contractor. This will be one of the biggest projects your family will ever undertake and few people have the time or expertise that it takes to handle all of the details involved in building a home. If you are building in our general area and would like help finding a general contractor who has experience with timber frame houses, we will be happy to help.

What about using panels to enclose my frame?

Actually most of our projects do not use stress skin panels. In our part of the country because of cost and climate, many people choose to use conventional insulation systems. However, we have done several frames with panels and will be happy to help you to choose a panel supplier and installer if you choose to use them.

How long does this process take from start to finish?

The length of time from the beginning of the design process until the frame is installed will vary according to the size of the project. The actual cutting of your frame may take only a few weeks, but the process up to that point may take months or even years! It is important to contact us early in the process so that we can ensure that the timber frame design is incorporated smoothly into your project. In addition, depending on our schedule you may need to plan ahead as much as a year to ensure that we can handle your project.

How much do timber frame homes cost?

Because of the hand crafted, high quality materials and the design, engineering and erection costs, a timber frame home will generally cost more than a conventionally constructed home. Timber frame costs will vary from project to project. As a result, we would prefer to give you an estimate after we have had a chance to look at your drawings. If the cost is too steep for your budget, we may be able to work with your plans to include timber framing in a portion of your home and thus allow you to enjoy the beauty of this fine craft and still stay within your established cost.

What kind of wood do you use?

We prefer to use reclaimed Douglas Fir for our frames. The reasons for this choice are twofold. Firstly, this fine old dried wood works best in our dry climate. Reclaimed wood has already dried and shrunk and therefore the quality of your frame in our climate will be much better. Secondly, by using reclaimed wood we are putting less demand on today’s forests. If for some reason reclaimed wood does not work for your project, we also have several sources for new wood and have used new wood which has been kiln-dried. The choice of wood for your frame is an important consideration during the design process and will be carefully addressed on an individual basis.