The appraisal process - Unless you are sitting on a sum of disposable cash (and most of us unfortunately are not), getting a bank loan will be one of the starting points to getting your timber frame house kit. Banks rely on the services of licensed appraisers to determine whether the amount of money you are asking for is commensurate with what the house will end up being worth. With the mortgage crisis nationwide, banks are now especially careful before lending out money.
Your first step will be to have your timber frame house plans, along with a detailed estimate of funds needed to provide to the bank. After that, the appraiser will come out to your site with your plans and take some pictures of your land. They then have to scour the tax records to find “comps”, or comparison sales, of houses in your area that fit the general size and workmanship of your proposed house. Here is the difficult part: there are not that many timber frame homes and they are not sold very often as the owners tend to stay in them for a long time. This leaves the appraiser with not very many comps that are “true” comparisons. As a result, many appraisers will have to look at regular “stick frame” homes that may or may not have all of the craftsmanship that goes into a timber frame home. Be ready for the appraisal process to take a little longer than it might with conventional homes in suburban areas.
Also, many people who are of the mindset to want a timber frame in their home are also in the mindset to want energy saving building techniques, such as tankless hot water heaters, SIPs (structural insulated panels), solar panels, etc… Even though these “extras” will help lessen the utility bills for the homeowner in the future (thus increasing the value of the home), they are not found in many homes, thus again making the process of getting true comps more difficult. If you are interested in utilizing more progressive, energy saving appliances or building techniques, be prepared to possibly spend cash on some of those if the bank is not able to get an appraisal high enough for your needs.
After the appraiser has found his comps, he/she has to submit the report to a board to make sure that it is accurate. This extra step is also due to the mortgage crisis. What this means for you as a new homeowner is that the appraisal process may very well take several weeks. My recommendation is to try to be patient and think about how impressive that timber frame is going to look in your new house.