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Spotlight: Don and Cristy Carlson and Cougar Creek Timber Frame

Don and Cristy Carlson

Don and Cristy Carlson

Don and Cristy Carlson are the owner-designers at Cougar Creek timber Frame, LLC in Winthrop, Washington. We asked Don how they came to start their new business and he replied, “After four years working in the Timber Frame industry, we knew we wanted to start our business to incorporate the old world approach to design custom homes showcasing the timber frame as a piece of art and to create energy efficient high quality homes. Together with my wife Cristy, we use our experience in property development, building residential homes and commercial buildings, accounting and cost estimating to put a plan together. We now have over 15 years of loving what we do for folks.”

Cougar Creek Entry

In describing Cougar Creek Timber Frame, Cristy says, “We are very knowledgeable in the Timber Frame design and offer personal attention to what the client wants and provide cost estimates per sketches or existing plans. We prefer to visit the proposed building site before we begin the design process to build a 3-D CAD model. We see Timber Frame as art work that needs to reflect the taste of the client. Most often the great room of the home showcases the Timber Frame using trusses and bents and specially designed timbers for the entries and focal points with timber members extending into the adjoining kitchen and dining areas. Exterior timber frame members can be decorative or structural to extend outdoor living.

We asked Cougar Creek if, when readying plans for building permit, the fact that a house is a Timber Frame makes that process more difficult. They told us: “Our projects along the West Coast regions have not been a problem with the building departments as we and our engineer are well acquainted with the Timber Frame documentation requirements for building permit purposes.”

Cougar Creek Patio

Next, we asked the company to describe to us a couple of projects that they are most proud of. They described these two: “Petersburg, Alaska: We flew up to visit the site and to meet the family spending three days to sketch a 3500 SF home for a family of five. Of course, this was scheduled to also attend a Norwegian Festival and have some fun getting to know the area and people. When the client was ready, a barge was loaded in Seattle with all the materials for the 3500 square foot weather-tight shell. When the site was ready, the team from Cougar Creek arrived to help direct the home owner and his fisherman buddies to erect the frame and panels. The homeowner, an excellent crane operator, along with strong and willing to learn fisherman buddies erected the 2-story timber frame and SIP walls in one week. In week two, the roof panels were in place."

Wild Horse Wind Farm: This was a commercial project working with an architect and the contractor who came to us with the plans to see if we could change from the proposed glulam beams to Timber Frame in Central Washington. Since this was to be energy efficient learning center with thousands of visitors each year, we suggested to take a look at using SIP’s to cut heating and cooling costs by at least 50%. With a little re-design, the changes met approval from the board. In the most windy, snowy conditions, the experienced truck driver chained up the truck to climb the hill to deliver the Timber Frame on time. This visitor’s center is located on the hill near the Columbia River."

Cougar Creek Kitchen

Cristy described for us her impressions of the pain points and challenges particular to designing and building timber frame homes: “Challenges: We have learned how difficult it is for some to understand a 2D floor plan, so a 3D CAD model is created to show the client on a computer screen what the timber frame looks like inside the home along with furnishings. This is where we can work long distance and make the needed changes for the client in order to proceed with the layout of architectural plans and the construction drawings. Another challenge is coordinating the delivery of the timber frame and SIP panels with the 53’ truck and trailer up a windy mountain road or a ferry crossing. We do that too.

Cougar Creek Great Room

Pain points: It is often the spending plan: Our solution is to help make choices as to where and what is most important in the timber frame in looks and structure - and check for areas that are less important to downsize. Some pictures or drawings we get do not work structurally and in that case we show a similar truss design and sizes that will carry the loads and may also need to re-size some windows to  allow for shear walls.”

Don describes some of the qualities of Cougar Creek: “Our commitment is to provide personal service and offer high end products. Our timbers are a tight grain Doug Fir offering three choices in wood: Green, Kiln-Dried and RFVKD – Radio Frequency Vacuum Kiln-Dried. The timbers are most commonly FOHC – free of heart center and SS – select structural. We offer extra energy efficient Eagle windows and scheduling of production and shipping to jobsite for all our offered products.

About half of our clients are owner builders and half GC’s so we are here to help them all the  way.

We are available by phone or e-mail to discuss your question and talk about your ideas."

​​​Want to find out more about Cougar Creek Timber Frame?

Cougar Creek Logo





Don Carlson


email: don@cougarcreektf.com

cell: 509-860-1610

Cristy Carlson

Director of Design

email: cristy@cougarcreektf.com

cell: 509-679-8514


68 Davis Lake Ranch Rd

Winthrop, WA 98862

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