This isn’t our first set of shop drawings. We’ve been partnering with timber frame-curious architects for more than 20 years.
We help architects who are great at what they do—but who could use expert advice on timber sizing, timber frame engineering, and project budgeting.
Have cost-related concerns? Sometimes we help architects who have been frustrated when timber framing turns out to cost more than expected, and they’ve been disheartened when their vision is value-engineered (or not built at all for budget reasons).
Occasionally we work with architects who want help with their first timber frame project, or who were disappointed when they recommended a timber frame subcontractor who didn’t meet expectations.
How do we start working together?
We’re glad you asked. You’ve got a few options to get the ball rolling:
- Want to talk? Give us a call at 828-266-9663 (we’re nice).
- Interested in learning more about timber framing? Carolina Timberworks is pleased to offer AIA Continuing Education System Courses at your offices.
- Prefer to send us a message? Click the button below to tell us a little about your design. We’ll get back to you right away.
Who is this page for?
You’re an architect with a vision. But if you’re like most architects, you’re a generalist, not a timber frame expert. You’d like some help designing and engineering the timber frame. You’re wondering about things like bent spacing, the right timber species and grade to specify, as well as some idea of the cost.
Why partner with a timber frame company early in the design process?
- You’ll avoid drawing something that doesn’t work structurally (or assumes timber sizes that aren’t available) that may result in painful changes later.
- You’ll avoid the frustration of designing a beautiful timber frame that doesn’t get built (or is subsequently value-engineered by the timber frame builder and/or timber frame subcontractor) because it costs more than the client is willing to pay.
- It’s a low stakes way to vet the timber framer. You’ll quickly learn if the company is a fit for this project, or not.
- Once the timber frame design is engineered, you and/or the builder can obtain apples-to-apples bids for the timber frame.
- Time savings: 6-8 weeks can be cut off the typical timber frame schedule (because the engineering is complete).
What about the cost?
We don’t charge anything for a 30 minute initial call with an architect because we enjoy asking and answering questions, and hearing about upcoming projects with big pieces of wood.
Can I hire you?
Sometimes we’re invited to help with the design and engineering of the timber framing. Typically it’s an iterative process involving the architect, our drafting team, and a timber frame engineer. We provide a two page pre-construction services agreement which outlines the scope, estimated total cost, and timeframe.
What don’t you do?
We don’t handle design or engineering of foundations or MEP systems (mechanical, electric, and plumbing).
Will my design work structurally?
That’s a great question—and it’s one we take seriously. We identify structural issues during the engineering and shop drawing steps of our process.
See those backward-pointing arrows in the process sketch above? When we find a problem, we take a step back and fix it. Only once we’ve confirmed your design will work structurally and we’ve gotten your approval, do we move forward in the process.
What about non-structural (decorative) timber framing?
Over the last 20+ years, we’ve built a lot of non-structural timber framing projects. But here’s the thing: you might not guess that our decorative timber framing is non-weight-bearing.
That’s because we work from the belief that timber framing only looks right if it appears structural. Read our musings on decorative vs. structural timber framing and decide which is right for your design.
What’s the best wood?
If this were strictly a numbers question, the answer would be Douglas fir. More than half of the timber frame structures in North America are built from Douglas fir.
But it certainly isn’t the only option, and in some cases it’s far from the best option. The right answer depends on whether the project is structural or decorative, whether it’s an interior or exterior structure, and so on. Take a look at our timber frame wood chart for details.
As Seen In
Do you work with reclaimed wood?
We have a deep appreciation for adaptive reuse, and using reclaimed wood beams is one of our preferred ways to timber frame. From great rooms and front porches to party barns and wine cellars, reclaimed wood has factored into many of our favorite timber frame projects.
Is timber framing sustainable?
We consider timber framing the most sustainable method of building for a few reasons:
- Wood is the world’s most environmentally-friendly building material.
- Post and beam construction often uses less wood than stick-built homes do.
- Timber frame homes can last for generations, continuing to store carbon for decades—or even centuries.
Construction (and operation of buildings) has a dirty secret: together they account for nearly half of the U.S. fossil fuel emissions. The good news is that there is a vast amount of room for improvement, and building with mass timber can be part of the solution.
Our timber frames are cut by the sun…
How much does a timber frame cost?
There’s no magic answer to this question, but you can use these prompts to assess whether your project will be more on the affordable or expensive end of the spectrum:
- Is the timber frame design simple or complex?
- How large are the timbers?
- Which timber species do you plan to use?
- What’s the site like?
- Is the General Contractor experienced in installing timber framing? If not, you’ll probably want our people to perform the installation.
Not sure if your client can swing the cost, given the project budget? Take a look at our ideas for how to fit timber framing into the budget.
Do you provide timber samples?
You bet. We provide short timber samples so you and your client can see, smell, and feel the different species and textures before deciding.
What can I expect from your shop drawings?
Click the sample shop drawings below to view them in a separate tab.
Do you install your timber frames?
We sure do. Our crew travels to the job site anywhere in the U.S. to install the timber frame, and we take pride in delivering safe, professional work on time.
Why do timbers split and crack?
Click here to understand why timbers split and crack, how long it takes timber to dry, where to get dry timbers, and why gunshots in the night are nothing to be afraid of when you understand wood checking and splitting.
Browse our timber frame work:
Timber Frame Architect Resources
- Design Guide for Timber Trusses
- Timber Frame Engineering Councils – Tech Bulletins and Research
- Wood Protection by Design
- Wood Decay and Protection
- Seasoning Checks in Timber
- Rules of Timber Joinery Design
- Field Notching and Drilling of Glued Laminated Timber Beams
- Mass Timber Floor Systems–Vibration Serviceability Considerations
- Detailing Cross Laminated Timber Connections
- Detailing Glulam Timber Connections
- Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Diaphragms
- Code of Standard Practice for Timber Frame Structures
- Download a Sample Shop Drawing Example
- Timber Grading Information
- Natural Durability of Wood
- Fire Resistance of Mass Timber Structures
- Moisture Considerations for Mass Timber Structures
- Behavior of Traditional Timber Frame Structures Subjected to Lateral Load
- Effect of Moisture Content on Bending Strength of Timber
- Moment Connections in Timber
- Basic Design Issues in Timber Frame Engineering
- Loading Criteria Checklist
- Timber Frame Shop Drawing Checklist
- Timber Frame Master Specs
Interpretation and appropriate use of the information presented in this resource list is the responsibility of the user. By downloading the documents, you agree that you have read and understand that neither Carolina Timberworks, nor The Timber Framers Guild or Timber Framers Engineering Council nor its members assume any responsibility for the information contained in this library of resource documents or liability from its use.