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Commonly Asked Questions At Vermont Timber Works

By Caitlin on April 19, 2018

Today I thought it might be helpful to answer some of the more common questions we get at Vermont Timber Works. Some of these questions we’ve answered before in other blog posts and elsewhere on the website, but I thought it might be good to put all these answers together as a resource. I think in the future we will discuss some of these questions and answers in greater depth, but for now here are the short answers for 30 commonly asked questions at Vermont Timber Works.



  1. Will you deliver to my state/country?

We have delivered Timber Frames all over the country and even internationally. We may have even delivered to your state or neighborhood before.


  1. What type of stains and finishes do you put on the timbers?

We typically use Minwax products (depending on application) but are open to new suggestions and products. Learn more about stains here.


  1. What finishes can you do on the Timbers?

We can finish the timber with a variety of textures including Rough Sawn, Planed Smooth, Semi Sanded, Hand Hewn, and Weathered. Learn more about timber texture options here.


  1. What is the cost of a Timber Frame? Can you estimate a cost per square foot?

This is the most common question we receive, and the most difficult one to answer. It’s like asking what is the cost of groceries, or the cost of a car. The price all depends on the specifics of what you’re buying. There are a variety of factors that will determine the cost of a timber frame including the size, type of the structure, and where it will be located. Frames are engineered to meet site-specific snow and wind loads. Frames on the sea coast or in the mountains are engineered for higher loads and therefore they are more expensive. Wood species is also a factor, as native hemlock is less expensive than free of heart Douglas fir or oak. Complexity contributes to the cost as well, as a fancy hammer beam frame is much more expensive than a simple barn design. The best way to determine the cost of your project is to give us a call and talk through the options.


  1. What wood species do you work with?

We can use whatever species of wood is available to us, including (but not limited to) Douglas fir, hemlock, pine, white oak, red oak, cedar, southern yellow pine, cypress. We can use timbers that are either rough sawn or surfaced (S4S).


  1. Why don’t you list prices on your website?

Because every project we do is completely custom, every timber frame will have a unique cost. Giving baseline prices could be misleading because many factors could change the price of the frame. The best way to get an accurate quote is to call our office and speak to one of our sales reps.  After getting an understanding of your needs, they will present your plans to our estimator for a custom quote.


  1. Does Vermont Timber Works custom design timber frames?

Yes. Whether you have plans, a sketch, or a basic idea of what you’re looking for, we can design you a custom timber frame specifically for you and your project.


  1. What is less expensive, steel joinery or traditional joinery?

Traditional joinery is normally less expensive than steel joinery. However, some clients prefer the look and aesthetic of the steel plates, so we do offer steel connections at cost competitive prices. Often with big trusses and large loads, steel joinery becomes less expensive than traditional joinery.


  1. Do you sell plans of past projects?

Because everything we do is custom to each client, their location and individual needs, we don’t sell plans or designs of past projects. You can reference a particular project as inspiration, and we can help you come up with something similar, but we won’t replicate the exact same structure for you exactly because your location will be different and require different structural engineering to comply with your local building codes.


  1. Can Vermont Timber Works Hand Hew my timbers?

Yes. We pride ourselves on being a custom shop that fabricates all our frames by hand. We can hand hew your timbers as they would have been done traditionally with an adze and slick.


  1. Can I encase my timber frame in glass, like a greenhouse?

Although there are ways to make this type of building work, please remember that wood is a natural product with some moisture content, and over time will dry, shrink, crack, and sometimes twist, causing changes to the structure and sometimes disturbing the glazing.


  1. Do you sell just the steel brackets and plates?

No. We don’t do any of the steel fabrication at our workshop, and every piece of steel that goes into our timber frames is custom designed and fabricated for that specific project. We only provide steel fabrication services to Timber Frames we are fabricating.


  1. Can the Vermont Timber Works crew erect my frame or do I need to hire a contractor?

Our crew can come to the site with the frame and erect the timber frame on site.


  1. Do you have trusses in stock you can sell me for a faster turnaround time?

Unfortunately not. Everything we do is custom and made to order, so we don’t have anything in stock. If you need trusses, they will need to be custom fabricated for your project.


  1. Why is the price I received from Vermont Timber Works different than the pricing from other companies?

It’s hard to compare apples to oranges, so unless you have specific prints with true dimensions, our interpretation of your frame may not be exactly like that of our competitors. We also have an in-house engineer who works closely with our estimator to ensure that we have provided a quote for a structure that will stand. We pride ourselves on the fact that we use the highest standard of timbers, fabricate everything from scratch with hand tools in our shop, and still practice the old artisan style of cutting each piece with precision without the use of high tech machinery. Our quality speaks for itself and sets us apart from the others.


  1. Will you work with an architect or contractor of my choosing?

Yes. We have a good working relationship with many architects and building partners and will be happy to work closely with any other company or building professional you chose to be apart of your project.


17. How long will it take for me to get my Timber Frame?

Usually, it takes 12 -14 weeks from start to delivery/erection. There are several milestones along the way; preliminary design and estimating takes a couple of weeks, doing the shop drawings for approval and material order takes about two weeks. Normally the client takes a week or so to approve the shop drawings. It takes four weeks to receive the raw timber from our suppliers and fabrication can be four to six weeks depending on the complexity and size of the frame. So plan early!


  1. Do you sell Barn Kits?

This question can be tricky. In a way we do, as in we can fabricate the timber frame and ship it to you in pieces as a “kit” for you or your contractor to put together. However, we’ve found that when people refer to “kits” they are generally referring to something that is typically at a lower price point, that is mass produced from a few models that the customer can choose from. Kits are the right choice and a great option for lots of people, but this is just not what we do at Vermont Timber Works.


  1. Can I order Structural Insulated Panels  (SIPs) with my Timber Frame from you?

Yes. We work with Foard Panel to offer a SIPs package in addition to your timber frame.


  1. Can you rush my order?

Sometimes we can expedite things depending on the workload in our shop, sometimes it’s just not possible. If you need a faster than usual turnaround time, please mention this early in the process.


  1. What is the most common wood species you build with?

Douglas fir is the most common wood species we build with. But we’re happy to work with any wood species you’re interested in.


  1. Do I need drawings or plans before I contact you for a quote?

Having drawings or plans already prepared when you contact us helps us provide you with a more accurate estimate for the cost of your timber frame, and gives us a clearer idea of what you’re looking for. That being said, it is not required. Some clients send images of projects that they like to give us a sense of what they are looking for. In all cases, we always strive to design a frame that meets each client’s vision.


  1. Do you build the whole house or barn?

We just fabricate and erect the timber frame. A local builder or general contractor will take care of the rest.


  1. Does Vermont Timber Works use Reclaimed Wood?

Yes. If you’d like us to use reclaimed wood for your frame or for part of the frame, let us know and we can source reclaimed timber for you.


  1. If I buy the frame elsewhere will you send a crew to assemble it for me?

No. It is not cost effective for us to have our crew erect anything they didn’t also fabricate.


  1. Can I buy the frame from you and erect it myself?

Yes. We can fabricate the frame in our workshop, and then we can ship you the frame disassembled with each piece numbered and with a set of detailed shop drawings so that you can assemble the frame yourself. We are always available by phone or email to answer questions and help you with the process.


  1. Can I rent your crew/tools/equipment?

This is not a service we provide. If you are doing the project yourself or with your own crew, you will need to rent or buy some tools. We have a list of tools that we use that we can forward to you. We do offer a “site supervisor” for additional cost who can travel to your location and help your crew assemble and raise your timber frame.


  1. Where can I find someone who will custom design me a House that can incorporate a Timber Frame?

Often times we recommend people start with sketches and your own research and find an architect or designer whose work you like. After a set of plans or drawings have been made, we can design a timber frame that will work with your plans.


  1. Can I visit your workshop?

Yes. We are located at 16 Fairbanks Road, North Springfield VT, 05150, and we are open for visits from 9 am to 4:30 pm.


  1. Are there any Timber Frames you’ve built that I can visit?

Yes. Read this blog post for a list of Timber Frames we constructed that you can visit.


So this is just a small guide of answers to 19 of the most common questions. Have more questions? Reach out to us at [email protected] or submit a question to our ask the experts page. Interested in receiving our newsletter? Sign up here.

About the Author


Caitlin is a writer and a full-time Marketing Assistant. She has worked at Vermont Timber Works since 2017.

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