Frequently Asked Questions
1) Cost-wise, how does a timber frame home compare with conventional construction?
A fully timber framed home will
cost 25% to 30% more (per square foot). In Alberta,
'turn-key' or fully finished homes are running about $180 per square foot of living area.
Of course, the finished cost for any project is always contingent on the caliber of finishes
and amenities you chose.
2) What type of timber will be used?
We typically use Native Canadian
Douglas Fir. This species is our choice (and the
choice of most timber framers) because of the inherent stability, uniform colour and tight
grain structure. Douglas Fir is also one of the strongest of the non-hardwood species.
Whenever possible we use standing dead trees for our timber frames.
3) How are the timbers finished?
We offer two choices of finished
texture: 1. Smooth Planed (furniture-like finish) 2.
Antique BrushedT (rustic, 'aged' patina on the timbers). We use only premium exterior
grade water-based stain. Choice of stain colour is up to you. We can also emulate an
'old world' hand-hewn finish on the timbers.
4) Can I expect the timber to check & crack after the timber frame is installed?
Yes. Checking or cracking
happens as the moisture leaves the timber. Sometimes this
happens almost immediately, and sometimes it can happen after many, many years. This
is a phenomenon that we cannot control. While we always start with the driest, most
stable timber we can reasonably access, checking is a fact of life. We think of this as an
integral, natural characteristic of natural wood and not as a negative aspect.
5) How long does it take to build a timber frame home?
Based on a 2000 S.F. to 3500
S.F. home, after the design is finalized, count on 7 to 8
weeks for the raw timber to arrive from the mill. After that, we will need 8 to 10 weeks
to fabricate, test-assemble, finish and stain the timber frame for your new home. During
this time, the excavation, foundation and subfloor are being completed. Once the timber
frame arrives on site, the raising is very timely, usually not more than one week.
6) Do I need a special foundation?
No. Load points for the timber
frame are dealt with during the design. A conventional
8" concrete foundation wall will be fine. You don't necessarily have to build a full
foundation, either, some clients opt for a radiant heated slab instead. If full foundation
walls are built there is no limitation as to height, and walk-out or daylight basements
also work very well with timber frame construction.
7) Am I restricted to placement of windows or interior walls?
No. The timber frame is a
massive, structural, self-supporting skeleton. Your interior
living spaces can be as open as you want, there is no reliance on load bearing interior
walls. Timber frames are very flexible, so your interior walls and windows can be
positioned (or removed) at will.
8) Are there any design restrictions?
None. Your new home plan can be
an open, more contemporary concept or more
traditional and formal- whatever you want. There are no restrictions to roof pitch or
rooflines. Dormers work especially well with timber frames.
9) What part of the project do you take care of?
Typically, we limit the scope of
our work to the timber frame and the enclosure. The rest
is up to your General Contractor. We work with him/her on a daily basis during the
preparation for, and installation of, the timber frame and enclosure system.
10) What options are there for enclosing the timber frame?
We offer our TimberWallT System.
This consists of a perimeter wall panel enclosure
system and a full built-up roof including interior ceiling decking. The roof is very
important. In Alberta, a ventilation layer and vapor barrier in a roof are critical. There
are two choices for perimeter wall insulation panels, either 'wrap-around' (the timber
frame is only visible from the interior of the home) or 'infill' (panels go between posts
so the timber frame is visible from the exterior, and interior of the home). Costs are
roughly the same. The timber frame can also be enclosed using conventional 2x6 stud
framing and batt insulation.
11) Will you act as General Contractor?
Yes. As long as the proximity of the project allows.
12) How do I get started?
Each project starts with a custom
design. We ask for a design retainer of $7,500.00. This
covers a full custom set of 'Construction Drawings'. If you proceed to construction
within 18 months, we apply this retainer of 100% to the Purchase Agreement, produce an
isometric drawing of the timber frame and an Engineer's review. If you decide not to
proceed, we keep the retainer and the plans are yours to keep.
13) How long will the design phase take?
2 to 6 weeks. This phase will
depend on how definitive you are about your new home,
and how well you can articulate what you like (and don't like) to us. The design phase is
when your 'wish list' is balanced against your budget.
14) When can I move in?
Weather permitting, a 2,500
square foot home should take no longer than 12 to 14
months to complete. Again, this schedule is contingent on finishing and amenities
that you choose.
15) My budget won't stretch for a timber frame home. What are my options?
A hybrid timber frame is an
affordable alternative. This is when only part of the home is
framed with heavy timber and the remainder is conventional ("stick frame") construction.
Typically, hybrid timber frames encompass the foyer, Great Room, Kitchen or other
'public' areas of the home. Bathrooms, bedrooms and utility rooms are conventionally
Another option is to add
non-structural timber frame elements such as interior trusses in a
great room, or timber frame Arts & Crafts brackets on the exterior to emulate a timber
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