Questions to Ask About Timber Frame Plans

If you are ready to move forward with your new timber frame home, the first step will be developing your timber frame home plan.  You’ll be working with someone from the timber frame company you’ve chosen or with an independent designer or architect.   You’ll ask many of the same questions, but if you are working outside of a timber frame company, you do need to ask if the designer or architect has any heavy timber experience.  This can greatly affect the efficiency (and cost) of your new timber frame home.

Will you be working directly with the designer or will there be others involved? A team effort works well.  Each member of the team (and you are the key member of the team) brings insight and experience.  Do the designer and the rest of the team (the person who sold you the timber frame) work from the same location?  Can they easily exchange ideas and information?

Who will own the copyright to the plan? Typically the copyright will belong to the company who is doing the design and you will have the right to build the home once.  If you expect to own the copyright, this must be negotiated up front.

Can you build the timber frame with another company (if you are working with a design/build firm)?  This varies greatly across the industry. At Goshen Timber Frames, clients can take the design to another company once they have paid for the plan and the proper release is signed.  Some companies will not transfer the right to build.

If you are building from a distance, is the company prepared to provide you with electronic files, online meetings, and shared folders for you, your contractor, and any other suppliers?   This is critical to a smooth design process unless you live close to the designer/builder.

Can you purchase a plan at an online plan service and adapt it to work with timber frame construction?  The short answer is “yes”.  The long answer is that some plans work well and others don’t easily become timber frames.   If you do want to purchase a plan from outside the industry, work closely with your timber frame plan designer to determine whether the plan will work as a timber frame and how the timber frame will be incorporated into the plan.  It usually works better to work with a stock timber frame plan in that case.   Custom design is always an option and should be considered if you don’t find a plan that can be easily revised for you.

Will the plans meet your local building code?  The designer/architect should work closely with an engineer registered in your state to make sure that the plans will meet/exceed all applicable codes.  At Goshen, we work with an engineer who is registered in every state.  All Goshen timber frame designs are overseen by an engineer who is experienced in timber frame and structural insulated panel construction.

Will the design fee be hourly, a flat fee, or is it part of the timber frame package?  This is an important question.  Design fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

These are just a few of the questions that you should consider or ask as you move toward designing and building your timber frame home. We’ve developed our design/build process to work well for the homeowner.  At Goshen we believe in the team experience and understand the importance of making sure that the plans work for the individual. Communication is critical and the Goshen team excels in communication.

Just remember this home will be around for centuries and Build Boldly!

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