Designing and building a timber frame can be a labor of love. It demands lots of planning, lots of communication, and trust both ways. A healthy professional relationship is important to the process of timbers rising up out of the early morning light on your ‘raising day’. I’m not sure there is an idea we haven’t heard, a design issue we haven’t overcome, or a building site problem we haven’t conquered.
At the end of the day, Clydesdale Frames is a family group of craftsmen that enjoy their work, love a good story, and know their wood. Over the years, we have answered many of the same questions - view frequently asked questions below to learn more about our process.
While they both use large timbers, they’re not the same thing. The primary difference between the two is that the exterior walls of a log home are logs stacked horizontally. Whereas in a timber frame, the exterior walls are typically SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels). The SIPS are supported by the heavy timbers of a timber frame home.
The next major difference is the range of interior finishes possible with a timber frame. In a timber frame, the wall space between the timbers can be finished with nearly anything you can think of. Timber frames offer the rustic look of large timbers without an overwhelming feel of wood. The walls of a log home look the same on the inside as they do on the outside.
The short answer is “yes”… the longer timber frame industry answer is “no”. The timbers used in a home are sized according to the loads they must hold up or resist. This means that every piece has been analyzed to ensure it functions adequately for its task. The checking is a normal reaction in drying wood, which means, it has already been factored into the sizing software and engineering used to determine the size of timber needed to be a rafter, beam, post, etc.
In some cases, the twisting or checking does not appear until after the timber frame is raised. Because of this, our choice in joinery is used to minimize twisting whenever possible. Different types of joinery have little to no bearing on checking. Timbers check, it’s what they do. We have found that the quicker a frame is raised after the fitting process, the better it behaves during the acclimation process.
At the end of the day, checking and twisting in a timber frame is completely normal. Just like we each have our own personality traits, one timber frame will not move / behave the same as the next. That is part of what gives a timber frame it’s character. While we accept that checking and twisting is normal to a frame, we certainly do not take it lightly. We want our frames to stand for hundreds if not thousands of years just like the frames of old. That is only possible through craftsmanship of the best quality.
Because the SIPS create the walls of a timber frame home, they can accept any finish. That is one of the advantages to a timber frame. The timbers give the rustic feel so many desire but the walls give the blank canvas for the personal touch to be applied. The end result is a home that combines the steadfastness of a timber frame with the sentimental value of your own home.
The short answer is that we design our frames to stand by themselves regardless of the enclosure system used.
The longer answer is that a timber framer is more of a craftsman than just a laborer. Because of this, each timber framer brings a unique touch to every frame they build just like a painter brings a unique style to their canvas. It doesn’t mean that one is wrong or right, it just means they’re different. Each timber frame company has a style because of the individual craftsman that work there. That is part of what needs to be considered when choosing a timber framer for your home.
Timber frame cost is affected by five different factors: size, complexity, spacing, location, and wood species. The result is that a timber frame can cover for example 1500 sq. ft. but vary several thousands of dollars in cost. So to compare it directly with conventional construction is difficult. Our best answer is that when budgeting for a timber frame in your home. Figure about $30 – $35 per sq. ft. of timber framed area.
The local custom stick builders in your area may be building anywhere between $150.00 – $200.00 per square foot. A timber frame in your area may add 25% to that cost. Our frame costs are pretty standard, meaning a home in Colorado or one right here in Kansas will cost about the same, however, the total cost of the home is always dictated by the region where it will be built.
When you receive a frame price or estimate from us, the cost of the raising is included. The only thing we do not include in that number is the cost of renting a tele-handler, crane, scaffolding, and lodging for our crew. We have found that the owner spends less money and gets better quality if they source those items locally rather than us doing it from afar.
There is no “distance surcharge”. The cost does include shipping, but the difference in shipping to Montana or an hour down the road is minimal. There is no sense to further complicate the price of a timber frame by adding surcharge after surcharge.
We are open to travel just about anywhere in the continental United States.
We’re comfortable working with an architect or designer if you choose to hire one. However we are capable of designing the rest of your home as well as providing the plans necessary to complete the project.
A hybrid timber frame is a very loose definition. A “hybrid” means that the home is constructed using different structural methods. For instance, a portion of the home is timber frame, and another portion is stick framed or panel framed. Whether or not a hybrid timber frame is cheaper depends on many factors. One of those is that the portions that are timber frame should not try to line up with the portions that are not timber framed. If the design you’re working off of is already compartmentalized or can be easily, then it’s a design worth pursuing.
Roof design plays a large part in whether or not a hybrid has the potential to be cheaper. Some things to look for:
1. The non-timber frame ridges should be perpendicular to the timber frame ridge.
2. If the non-timber and timber frame ridges are parallel, the roof planes should be out of line with each other. Either through change in elevation, roof pitch, or house width.
3. If a portion of the structure is timber, the other portion is separated by a small non-timber passageway so that it’s essentially two separate structures. (A garage with a breezeway would be a good example.)
Once a quote has been completed and we have a hard number, 2% of the timber cost is due in order to schedule your project. This means we are working with you to block out time on the yearly calendar to complete the work of building your frame. Approximately 4-5 weeks before your scheduled time, we collect a 50% deposit to order the timber from the sawmill. The remaining 48%, plus accrued hours of architectural design time, is due at the raising. Any fees for Structural Engineering reviews or sealed / stamped drawings will also be added to the final payment. In addition, it’s not uncommon for us to build mantles, tables, benches, etc. This usually happens during the frame building process; these fees will also be added to the final invoice.
The first thing needed is at least a floor plan sketch. We can take pictures, portions of floor plans, drawings on a pizza box lid, etc. to generate simple floor plan sketches as well as exterior 3-D views of that same sketch. Using that information, we try to arrive at a design that you’re happy with and will work with a timber frame. We do not charge for generating those sketches.
Our objective with those sketches is not to design the entire home but instead to develop the “curb appeal” and rough layout of the home. This establishes the building envelope from which we can develop our cost and the panel company can derive theirs.
No. We don’t subscribe to the cookie-cutter mentality. Because of that mindset, all our designs are custom to each homeowner. Many of our completed homes are posted on our “Finished Timber Frames” page. If you like the look of one of those houses, we can certainly use that design as base to work from. In addition to our homes, there are countless websites and books devoted to showcasing different designs. We are comfortable using one of those as a base to start from..
In most cases, the sketches are enough to start getting cost estimates from builders or contractors. At this point, you’re trying to find out if a timber frame fits within your budget.
If you were to have a contractor do all the work on your home, a cost break down you can assume is this. Our timber frame estimate combined with the estimate from the panel company should represent 1/3 of the turnkey cost of the house. Again, that is not a hard fast number. It’s simply meant to give you an idea.
We see a fairly even split if you don’t distinguish between those who do all or those who do some of the work themselves. We have observed homeowners having the most success in tackling the project themselves when they have had some previous experience in building a home. Typically this needs to be more than a shop class or even a single weekend project. We certainly don’t want to quench a dream but we do know that in a building project, there are always unexpected pitfalls that we call the “black holes of construction.” These black holes are inevitable and almost always require more time and money to climb out of. An effective contractor, hired or not, will see these in advance and do everything they can to mitigate their effect on the project.
You’re looking for several things in this order:
1. Do your personalities fit? Personality clashes in many cases can be overcome through discussions but they can also become the single greatest cause of delays and budget overruns if left unresolved. We advise that if you have an uneasy feeling directly related to the contractor, you need to either find out more information or part ways. This goes for any contractor involved with your project.
2. Do they understand that details matter or do they simply gloss over the plans and put a number to it? Details are a big part of building a timber frame. If a contractor is unsure or too busy, they will budget a number that can accommodate for any errors in the building process. The home may turn out exactly as you wanted it to but it won’t be as inexpensive as it could have been.
3. What is the community opinion of the contractor? This is a tough one. This requires that you not only seek out the opinions of past clients but also what their relationship is to the contractor.
This again depends on the complexity of the frame. However assuming a basic frame, here’s what you can expect:
1. Upon ordering the timbers, it will take 4 – 6 weeks before the timber arrives in our shop.
2. Once they’re here, we will take around 4 – 6 weeks to cut and fit the frame.
3. When we are done with the fitting process, we are ready to raise. This is typically where most delays happen due to weather or on-site construction issues.
4. Once a raising day is set and we arrive on-site, we will spend 2-3 days raising your frame.
5. After the frame is raised, about one day is needed to apply T&G on the ceilings if that is the chosen finish.
6. At that point, you’re ready for the panel company. Once they’re done, your house is ready for the final close-in process with roofing, siding, windows, doors, etc.
7. After the house is closed in, the timing of the project depends on the timing of local contractors.
So from ordering to raising, it will take 2 – 3 months and then we’re on-site with the frame.
We are open to building just about anywhere in the contiguous United States. The states we’ve raised frames in to date are: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming.
As you can see, we operate in a large swath of the country; the central states are by far the most common states we build in. We don’t believe in distance surcharges. If for example you were building in the coastal states, our quote or estimate would include any resultant costs for transporting the crew and tools. Beyond those costs, our raising cost would be figured the same as if you were building an hour down the road from us.
If you’re still unsure if we would build where you’re wanting to build, give us a call. We’re more than happy to discuss your project!
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