Blog > The Timber Frame Process > Timber Frame Project Start to Finish: Boat House

Timber Frame Project Start to Finish: Boat House

By Derek Folsom on May 01, 2015

One of my favorite parts of living in Vermont now, and New Hampshire growing up, are all of the lakes that we get to enjoy. You can throw a rock in any direction and find a body of water that I would love to spend the day fishing, kayaking, tubing, water skiing, and swimming. I spent a lot of time with my family doing all of those things on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire, which is only an hour away from the shop, and I get nostalgic thinking of the good times that I spent on the boat fishing with my grandfather, or my dad teaching me how to water ski (which I’m still terrible at).

Of all the time that I’ve spent in and around water, it never crossed my mind that a timber frame boat house even existed, until I started at Vermont Timber Works. We have done several boat houses, but we will focus on Crystal Lake in Quebec Canada, where we erected a very impressive boat house in 2013.


As you can imagine, there are a number of challenges inherent with building a frame over water, let me take you through the steps necessary to complete a build like this.

1.)  Client approaches us with the Timber Boat House concept:

In this case the customer approached us in November hoping to have their Boat House ready for the summer sun. It can take anywhere from a month and a half to 3 months and beyond to get the materials ordered and fabricated, depending on the materials, complexity of design and so on. In this case the timing was perfect, the water on the lake would be lower because of the winter time, and give us enough time to get the structure fabricated and ready to raise before a boat hit the water.

V2 MacPherson Boathouse Dormers Iso 3d

2.) Ideas are bounced back and forth until a design is decided on:

When the sales crew has narrowed down the vision of our customers, and we feel that we are on the same page, we take the concept to Rick, our estimator, to do a takeoff.  Ricky will do a rough pencil sketch of the structure, and generate a materials list for pricing from our suppliers.  When the customer tells us that we are headed in the right direction we can do a 3D model to give the client a living drawing that they can “walk through”, “flyover”, “zoom”, etc.  The model really shows off what the structure will look like/accomplish.

MacPherson Boathouse 12-11-12 3d

3.) Materials are ordered after numerous redesigns, and fabrication starts in February:

More times than not we give a proposal for an initial design, and there will be some changes that the client would like to incorporate, we are more than happy to go back to the drawing board, when you have waited a long time to build your dream home, barn, boat house or whatever it may be, we want you to feel that you are getting exactly what you want.

GMH_7_26_10 004

4.) The pride of our craftsmen kick into high gear and they start churning out hand cut timber frames:

Vermont Timber Works chooses to fabricate our timbers frames the way that the trade started, we don’t use a computer program to layout and then cut our timbers.  We have master craftsmen/craftswomen layout and cut all of our timbers by hand, attention to detail and very high expectations are what set us apart.  One of the very cool features of this boat house is the flare that we put on the rafter tails. This give the structure a unique feel.


5.)  The Boat House is complete and ready for some summer fun in the sun (after the lake melts):

You may have to use your imagination for this portion of the post, but imagine the sun shining down on you as you enjoy an ice cold glass of lemonade in the cabana, you look across the lake and it’s begging for you to take the boat out, you walk across the cat walk and fire up the engine, as the wind blows through your hair you look back and see your beautiful new timber framed boat house.  Call me crazy, but that sounds like a pretty good afternoon!



Thank you for stopping by our timber framers’ blog! If you like this timber frame boat house, or have any timber work questions, we invite you to get in contact, ask an expert, or share your thoughts in the comment section below!

About the Author

Derek Folsom

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Vermont Timber Works