Once you’ve decided on building a timber frame structure yourself, it’s never too early to begin considering your wood procurement. Your builder can help you develop plans and an accurate materials list. Finding and transporting large timbers can provide some challenging moments, but it can also be as easy as making a few calls to friends with heavy-duty trailers or meeting with the local sawyer.
There are several options for procuring wood:
Wood Procurement – Buying from a Wood Broker or Mill
A wood broker deals with mills and salvage dealers of all sizes. They are most likely to secure rare woods and different grades with relative ease. Brokers are good at what they do, and they are experts at shipping and delivery. When a broker secures your timbers, you can bet that they will arrive planed, dry and ready to use. These advantages do involve extra costs.
Buying from a local sawmill or sawyer
No matter where you’re structure will be located, you may be surprised at the number of mills in your area. Native species will obviously be less expensive and readily available. Sourcing your wood in this way may qualify your home for LEED certification, since you will not be spending much money on fossil fuels for long-distance delivery. You’ll also be supporting another local business person in your area. Depending on the sawyer, you may be responsible for hauling the timbers to your site. Clearly communicate with your sawyer, as large timbers are not typically their specialty, however most do a great job in this extended capacity.
Milling Your Owner Timbers
If you’re looking for the ultimate self-sufficient method of building your timber frame home, you can borrow or rent the equipment to cut timbers from the standing trees on your home site. Portable band saws or mills range in size and complexity–the bigger they are generally, the easier they are to use. The cost of owning one of these machines may be a bit high for the average home builder. It takes hard work and skill to master this process, but it can be done. There will be plenty of opportunities to roll up your sleeves and work hard during the building process, so I recommend hiring someone to do your on-site milling. An experienced sawyer can maximize the usable wood taken from each log, cutting down on waste and time spent milling on-site. They can also cut custom pieces, for example timbers with natural curves. Lastly, on-site milling means you are responsible for clearing all the waste, by either burning it or having it hauled off.