Our clients often wonder how long the timber frame process will take, starting from the time they sign their contract to when the timber frame is delivered to their building site. Time Frame is an understandable question to have when you’re trying to coordinate with different building partners. The time frame for your timber frame will depend on variables like our production schedule, the wood species and finish chosen, the complexity of the joinery and distance to your site. Today, we will break down that time frame so that you can see where the time is going, and how it can vary based on an assortment of variables.
After you’ve reached out to us and have emailed us your plans, we give them to our estimator to take a look at so we can provide estimates for materials needed, as well as the amount of time and labor necessary for the frame. Due to the number of plans we receive, it may take about a week before you receive your estimate.
After you’ve read and approved our proposal and signed a contract, we will place an order for the material needed to fabricate your timber frame. The lead time can vary based on the wood species, the availability and the quantity needed. Specialty wood will take longer, especially if a great quantity is needed. Reclaimed wood can take longer to source as well. So 4 weeks is normal and ideal, 6 weeks is for rare or specialty wood, or unforeseen problems.
The time it takes for Vermont Timber Works to fabricate the frame depends on the complexity of the design and our production schedule. For complex and intricate frames that require hand hewing or special finishing, the fabrication process will be more involved and labor-intensive and take more time. For a simple timber frame made with planed Douglas fir, the fabrication process will be faster. Sometimes when we’re very busy, or if the material delivery is delayed, or if we discover that some sticks of wood are not of sufficient quality, it can affect the production schedule and add a little time to a project. So once again, 4 weeks is the normal amount of time, and 8 weeks is the most amount of time fabrication would take with unforeseen problems and higher design complexity.
Once the fabrication is completed, the frame is packaged and wrapped for transportation along with the hardware and the carrier is scheduled for pick-up. The time for delivery of the frame varies depending on the location of the job site and the distance from our shop. Keep in mind that the transport services we contract with to deliver the timber frame have to stop and rest after driving a certain number of hours, by law and for safety reasons.
An average frame will require 1 or 2 weeks for the erection. Keep in mind that if you decide to have our team erect the timber frame later in the process, as opposed to having the erection included on the initial contract, it may increase the time needed since we have to coordinate our crew between our production schedule and the job sites in a way that is fair and efficient, and taking into consideration other production commitments already made on our schedule.
If you’ve been counting along with me, the fastest time frame laid out is 11 weeks. We’ve done projects as quickly as 8 weeks when everything came together quickly and our production schedule was very open. However, 11 weeks is average and it is the optimal amount of time we like to spend on each project. Sometimes we are able to push things faster but the time needed is based on the many variables involved in the fabrication, including the time it takes for the material to arrive at our shop.
In the worst-case scenario, if we assume that everything-that-could-go-wrong-has-gone-wrong for the most complicated timber frame in the world, the time estimate laid out in this post would add up to 18 weeks, which would really not be typical.