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Choosing Your Timber Frame Company

When determining which company will build your home, you have a lot of legwork to do before making that decision. Here are a few things you should consider when you begin your quest to find the perfect partner.

Choosing Your Timber Frame Company

Research is Key in Choosing Your Timber Frame Company

Before you do anything else, learn about timber frame homes, the construction, styles and methods used to build them. Understand the difference between a log home, a timber frame home and a standard construction house.

Stock Plans vs Custom Design

If you’re looking for a basic design, there are a vast number of companies from which to choose. These companies have stock plans, so you will save on the cost of custom design.
However, if you want a unique, custom home, you will need the services of a company that can provide an architect to design your home. This service doesn’t come cheap, but you will truly have the house of your dreams.

Narrow The Field Of Potential Companies

There are so many timber frame construction companies out there, and there are many levels of company involvement. Some companies only provide plans. At the other end of the spectrum, there are turnkey companies that are with you from the design stage to your house warming party.
Narrow your search to a few companies. Contact them and see how things go. Ask questions, and be prepared to answer a few as well.

Determine A Realistic Budget Early On

Don’t have a pie-in-the-sky attitude about your budget. Even if your dream home is still a few years in the future, you should set a realistic budget to see just how far it will take you.
The companies you contact will probably inquire about your budget. They’re checking you out as much as you are checking on them. An honest discussion about your budget will help both of you get a handle on what you can afford as opposed to what you want.

Chemistry Plays A Part In Your Choice

You’ll be working closely with this group of people, so make sure you can get along personally with them. There’s going to be lots of decisions and stressful situations, so the last thing you need is a less-than-cordial relationship.

Choosing a Timber Framer

Check Out A Company’s Resume

You’re hiring a company to work for you, so check into their history and business system.
Do they have a communication system to share plans with you and the builder? This could be through email, conference calls, phone calls or web-based meetings.
How long have they been in business and do they have a history of quality projects you can check?

Compare Construction Methods

Even though you’ll find many similarities in the construction methods used by most companies, there are differences you should consider.
Timbers can be machine cut or hand-hewn. If the company uses SIPs, do they have in-house manufacturing or do they order them from a third party? Do they use blown-in foam insulation? Do they have their own contractors or hire from a local pool?
A company that is a turnkey operation is the most effective building model and can be far more efficient in their turnaround time.

There’s a lot of research and many decisions to make while on your quest for your perfect dream house. The hours you invest in educating yourself will pay off in the long run with decisions based on knowledge instead of a hunch. Your familiarity with all stages of the timber frame home design and construction allows you to be an active participant in your project, instead of a curious bystander who merely writes the check.

6 thoughts on “Choosing Your Timber Frame Company”

  1. I’ve been looking for a good post frame builder. I’m glad you talked about being able to narrow the field of companies for framing. I’ll have to do a little bit of research and see what we can find.

  2. My wife and I are looking for a timber frame company to come up with a rustic ornate design/build
    for our small dated 2000 ‘ ranch with a detached two car .

    The plan is to do a large car port , attached pavilloin for the patio , small tower and two
    attached porches .
    This will be the start to the homes transition from a dated ranch to a rustic cottage.
    The biggest challenge will be the 4/12 roofs that we will not be able to change due to cost.

    Second stage will be stone work accents to all that I have a mason set up for.

  3. This is a great article. We have been designing timber frame homes for close to 30 years now and we would say the most important things we do with our perspective and active clients is explain how the timber frame industry actually works.

    Maybe obvious to most but 99% of all timber frames are cut off-site (prefab) and then shipped on site… same for the building envelope. In the timber frame industry, it is common practice to ship timber frames across the country to a job site. For example, we did a project in Petersville Alaska and the client selected a timber framer in Vermont. Heck, we have had companies create a CNC file in British Colombia and then send the file to a timber frame CNC machine in Tennessee.

    What this means is that we are living in an age where you can literally shop your project to every timber frame company in North America if you wanted too. What most people may not fully understand I actually the difference between independent or in house design. There are major benefits to choosing your timber frame after you have your final design. I don’t care how big the job is if you had 4 timber framers bid the same exact set of drawings you will see at least a 20k variances between the high and low guy/girl. Yes, price isn’t everything but having options is.

    We have a project right now in Georgia where we have 115k price variance on the timber frame/install + panels/install between companies. Now if our client originally signed a design contract or purchased a house plan with this popular timber frame company who was 115k more expensive then he would: A) not know he just overpaid by 100k, or B) be contractually obligated to build that design with the timber framer.

    Under intellectual property law B141-1997 the architect or designer is the “author and owner” meaning the architect retains all rights, including copyrights to the documents. That means as soon as you sign your design contract with your timber framer, you have in turn given all your power away as a consumer to shop your timber frame project around.

    Moral of the story… Design build is a great option in the construction industry… maybe not the best option for your timber frame project. If interested we could write an article for your blog on the pros and cons of timber frame design-build and how to shop timber framers with your final drawings in hand.

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