Choosing a contractor to help build your new timber frame can be an intimidating undertaking. You wonder if you should be concerned if they’ve never worked with a timber frame before. Will they charge more because they are on a learning curve and are working in, for them, uncharted territory? How well will they work with your timber frame company? The questions just keep coming.
Step back and take a deep breath. Don’t let this be a defining moment in your timber frame journey. Ask a few questions and narrow down your choices. Ask your timber frame advocate (oh, yes, your timber frame company should be your advocate) to answer any questions the builder might have. The timber framer can take the mystery out of the process for the builder.
- Have you built a timber frame before? Most builders haven’t, but they should be excited about adding this to their list of skills. Look for a certain amount of enthusiasm in their response. The “well, we put some beams in the ceiling and it looks the same” answer is a sure reason to walk away.
- Will your subcontractors be open to non-traditional options for HVAC ductwork and wiring? Timber frames don’t have attic spaces, so the ductwork can be a challenge. Sometimes they have to think outside the box. Your timber frame designer can help guide them and can make changes to accommodate their requirements if needed.
- How will they communicate with you and with the timber framer? Are they open to meeting online, emails, exchanging files electronically, as well as phone calls? Since it’s unlikely that your timber framer is local, communication is an important part of the process.
Your timber frame company should be willing to help you interview contractors. Whether done long distance or in a day of meetings, this can be a valuable piece of the puzzle. It brings everyone to the table before there are tough questions and sets the tone of the project as a team effort.
Choosing the right contractor will make your timber frame journey a pleasant and fun experience. Building is, by nature, stressful and having a team that communicates well and brings a sense of excitement to the project is key.
So move forward, build and Build Boldly.
By Bonnie Pickartz