Quick Guide: 10 Essential Steps To Build A Timber Frame Home

Build A Timber Frame Home

So you’ve decided to build a timber frame home. Congratulations! You’ve decided on a timeless design that is not only aesthetically pleasing but structurally strong, quick to build, energy-efficient, and sustainable. Now the only question left is, can you design a structure that complements your lifestyle. We think you can because timber frame homes offer some of the most flexible design options available in any home design. The secret to a successful build is to find a trustworthy materials package company to manage your design and materials—and a competent general contractor who can handle your build.

Plan Out Your Wants And Needs

Whether you’re building your first home, forever home, or a family vacation cabin, you’ll need to have your requirements mapped out before you plunge into the design phase. What’s important to you? Square footage, functionality, RV or boat storage? It’s essential to consider your lifestyle here too. Do you entertain a lot, and is that entertaining usually outside, or do you take a more formal approach around a formal living area inside? It’s a good idea to have at least some of these questions worked out before contacting an architectural designer to build a timber frame home. We encourage you to view our plans, browse Pinterest, Houzz, and Timber Home Living Magazine.

Develop A Realistic Budget And Schedule

Setting a budget is the most critical step you can take to ensure you have the funds to build your timber frame home and get construction over the finish line. However, if you are entirely in the dark about this, we can help. We’re experienced straight-shooters and will provide you with honest answers. Get Pricing!

Like any project, when you build a timber frame home, it isn’t a quick and easy process. Set aside two to three months for the design and one to two months for engineering. At this point, you will have stamped plans in hand, ready to provide to your general contractor.

Materials Package Preparation

Next, you should anticipate another two months to cut the timbers, have the frame tested off-site, and delivered to your building site. Finally, raising and enclosing the shell usually takes roughly one week.

Securing Local Building Permits And Services

Your general contractor should obtain the building permits. At the same time, your materials package company prepares the timber frame, SIPs, windows, doors, siding, and interior framing. This will ensure the project will begin without a hitch. They should communicate to the local building authority and your lender to determine when they require inspections of the work. They should also contact the local power company and arrange for temporary electrical service at the site. If you build a timber frame home in a rural area, they may need to schedule well and septic installations.

Building Site Preparation

Several weeks before the arrival of your materials package, a surveyor should mark the boundaries of your house and designate where the footings and foundation should go. Next, an excavator should clear the site of trees and brush and install a temporary road so that the equipment and deliveries can travel to and from your building site.

Pour The Foundation

Your materials package company will supply your general contractor with the correct specifications for the right type of foundation your house needs. Your site’s unique characteristics, type of soil, local climate, design of the house, and budget will determine the kind of foundation for your structure. When you build a timber frame home, it’s essential that your foundation be level. The timber frame must be square in order for the SIPs to fit properly to make the structure plumb. 

Unload And Inventory Your Materials Package

Upon delivery to the site, the timber framers will unload it from the delivery truck. The team will then inventory and organize the timbers by function—posts, beams, braces, and the like—to expedite construction. Checking the materials package is an essential step. It assures all parties that the materials are there and ready to assemble. Your materials package company will probably require written approval before releasing your materials package.

Raise The Timber Frame

The team will then assemble and raise the frame. Timber frame homes tend to go up fast. It’s very gratifying to witness this step in the process because it represents and justifies months of hard work.

Enclose The Building Envelope

Next, structural insulated panel walls and roof are installed to dry-in the structure. Work on the exterior will continue by installing the weather-resistant barrier, windows and doors, flashing, siding, and trim. At the same time, the team will build the garage, porches, decks, and any other unconditioned space the design requires.

Build Out Your Interior Conditioned Space

Finally, finishing your interior can take anywhere from two to nine months or more, depending on the complexity of the interior design and the availability of fixtures. The timeline could be longer if unique materials are required, like exotic countertops and hardwoods for flooring and cabinetry.

I'm In—Whom Do I Contact First?

When you build a timber frame home, it’s confusing who to contact first; a designer or a contractor. The truth is, you need both. However, our advice is to find a designer who specializes in timber framing first. Better yet, find one who can also source the right materials for your build. Choosing a company specializing in timber framing is essential because understanding the design is critical. Also, using inferior materials not specified on your engineered plans compromises your home’s structural integrity. A timber frame home designer is familiar with the engineering calculations necessary for a successful build. 

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Using Inferior Materials To Cut Costs Happens All The Time

You always run this risk when materials are sourced through a contractor. It’s an area where contractors can make up for inefficient building techniques and underestimating. A good materials package company will help protect your investment by adding another check of accountability here which will save you money and ensure a quality build.

A good materials company should also have a builder network of general contractors they can match you with who completes the build. Builders like this enjoy their craft and prefer to earn their money in the field.  

Start with a Plan and Build with Integrity.

A primary residence, place to retire, vacation cabin, or maybe you have some property and are dreaming of building a multi-structure hunting or fishing resort. Let’s talk!