Choosing a Timber Frame Builder


Building a custom timber-framed home involves more than lumber, nails and paint.  It’s an investment that begins with choosing the right builder.  We’ve compiled a list of suggestions that can aid you in the decision-making process.

Absolute basics:

  • Make sure you have a personal connection with the builder you choose.
  • Research the company you’re considering.
  • Meet the contact person/people you’ll work with on your project.

From the first block of the foundation to the final coat of paint having a quality relationship with your timber frame builder is key to a smooth, successful project.  Trust your first impression and choose someone that you can communicate with freely and clearly.  If you feel comfortable with a builder after your initial meeting, the next step is to research the company.

Your goal is to choose a professional timber-frame builder with a superior track record.

Ask your potential builder for references from people they have worked with previously:  homeowners, contractors, and designers.  Make sure the timber frame company you’re considering has liability insurance, provides worker compensation insurance for their employees and offers warranty coverage for their work.  Reliable timber frame builders will also insure your frame while it is in their possession.  Ask for banking and insurance references to ensure the company has integrity in their business practices.  A simple call to the Better Business Bureau gives peace of mind to know your potential builder has a exemplary rating and to check whether there has been any unresolved issues.

Knowing how many contact people you’ll work with over the course of your project is important information to consider.  Having one contact person can save you countless hours of phone calls and emails.  You may prefer, however, to be able to speak directly to the sub-contractor of a given area within your project.  Knowing your comfort level with the number of contacts you’ll maintain during the course of your project may help you choose the builder that’s the best fit for you.

Services vary from builder to builder:

  • Design services
  • Frame Considerations
  • Material choices

Some timber-frame builders offer in-house design services while others work with an outside agency.  It’s a matter of personal preference which style suits you best but an important consideration before you choose a builder.  Perhaps you already have a designer in mind.  Make sure the builder you choose allows an outside designer.

Frame considerations vary greatly from company to company.  Some timber frame companies cut their own frames while others use pre-made frames from a third party.  While some builders offer a crew for erection and enclosure of the frame, other builders use a sub-contractor for that part of the project.  Knowing the answers to these variations can eliminate stressful surprises in the process.

Timber frame companies also vary in material preferences and the scope of materials they prefer to supply for your project.  Be sure to clarify what types of wood your timber framer will supply for your project.  Ask them to list the characteristics and advantages of the species.  Are you required to purchase all of the materials the timber framer offers?  Ask your potential builder what type of enclosure system they use and have them explain the advantages and disadvantages of the system.


Blue Ox Timber Frames specializes in creative eco-friendly building solutions.  Call us today at: 320-763-9003 and see how we can help you take steps to make your dream a reality.

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