DW Timber Frame Design



Design Pricing Estimates

  The Design and Pricing Agreement I produce will outline the quote and process of designing your new timber frame and/or panel structure. I start with a collection of information about the features and details you like, dislike and want for your building. From that point I create preliminary plans that evolve through the design process to construction (shop) drawings.


  The answer to this question is complicated and involves a long list of variables.
Many people who ask this question want to know how much an architechtural, timber, panel or the complete design package costs.
  The cost of a DW Design package, while also being very important is meaningless in comparision to the question of : How Much Will Your New Project Cost?

        These fee's are to give you a rough estimate for the design packages.

Architectural Plans.....$ .50 to $ 1.20 per square (floor surface area)

Timber Frame Plans...........$ .50 - $ 1.20 per square feet (floor surface area)

SIP (Panel Plans)...........$ .35 - $ .50 per square feet (floor surface area)
                                                     (sheathing & insulation of the timber frame)                                                                                        
   This will vary a little according to your structure design, size and how complex it is.

Once your plans are complete

   A. If you are cutting your own frame I’m available for questions and advice without additional fee's as you are cutting and raising your frame, until complete.

   B. If you want someone to build your structure. I work with (not for) multiple different timber frame and SIP (structural insulated panel) companies in the US. Typically when your plans are finished I will email multiple companies to provide a free quote for your project. Companies that reply with interest are then submitted electronic plans, list’s and web page link to provide a quote for your timber frame and/or SIP's.

  Then it is your decision on who will fabricate and raise your new structure.

  It is common practice for me to also work with the company through the cutting and construction of your new home as a consultant for questions.

                                 HOW MUCH WILL YOUR NEW HOME COST?

The answers to these questions are vitally important but also difficult to answer in anything but very broad and generalized numbers. The only accurate manner in which to tell you how much your home will cost is to complete the design process, generate construction drawings and obtain bids for all aspects of the construction process.
  The material list that I generate for you will allow you to shop competitivly for a builder of your home and essential for your subcontractors and supplies.

                                           Some Guides for Costs Are:

A timber frame home will cost you 10%-25% more than a high quality conventionally built custom designed home of the same size and volume, using the same finishing materials. This is for the house only and does not include land and those related costs.

  Owner-builders who contribute a significant amount of expertise and sweat equity (labor) can save up to 30% - 50% of the fully contracted cost. However, a more realistic savings for an owner-builder will be between 10% and 20% savings unless you cut your own timbers per my plans.

  An owner-contractor who has real expertise and capabilities to perform the work of a general-contractor can expect 10% to 20% saving over the fully contracted cost.

  A construction-manager can save an owner between 5% and 15% over the fully contracted cost.

                                             Variables that Increase Costs:

  Regional markets: The cost of construction varies greatly from one area of the country (world) to another. Resort regions where the building season is limited because of weather will increase costs. The cost of local labor and materials can affect the cost by 10%-20%.

  Climate: The weather can affect the cost of your home. Snow and wind loads can add significant cost for additional engineering and larger timbers. Severely cold climates may require higher insulating values and thicker SIPs.

  Site related issues: Ledges and/or rocky terrain, a steeply sloping site and problematic soil conditions can add cost to the foundation.

  Design: Complex architecture with lots of interior and exterior corners, complex rooflines, especially hips and valleys will add costs.

  Volume: High vaulted ceilings add volume thereby increasing the cost per square foot. A long narrow design will require more wall area than a cube to enclose the same floor area and volume.

  Timber frame variables: Douglas fir, oak and quality recycled timbers are more expensive than eastern white pine and hemlock. Complex trusses, such as hammer beams, octagonal frames, hips and valleys will add to the cost of the timber frame. Details such as chamfering, curved knee braces and gun stock posts will all increase costs.

  Windows and doors: These items vary greatly - size, type (casements are more expensive than double hung windows) and insulating values can add significant cost to the project.

  Interior finishes and materials: The cost of kitchens and baths can greatly affect the completed costs. Within the same space one kitchen can easily be double or triple the cost of another manufacturer's cabinets. Appliances also vary greatly in cost. Whirlpool tubs and steam showers add significant costs. A real stone fireplace can be three to four times the cost of a "zero clearance" fireplace with cultured stone finish. Floor finishes can add greatly to the cost when stone, tile and hardwood are used. Heating and cooling systems can increase costs. For example, in-floor radiant heating costs upwards of two or three times a hot-air system.

  Exterior finish materials: The type and grade of wood finishes can vary greatly. Stone finishes will add cost over simple wood trim. The roofing materials you select can also add cost. Generally steel, tile and other non-fiberglass/asphalt types of roofing are more expensive.

                                          Variables that Reduce Costs:

  Regional markets: Building in a competitive market where there is less demand for builders can help contain costs. In these areas local labor is more readily available and usually at a lower cost.

  Climate: Weather can affect the cost of your home. Moderate climates can reduce cost with regard to the requirement for lower insulating values and smaller timbers and less engineering.

  Site related issues: A simple, flat or gently sloping site with good soils will be less expensive to build on and help to control foundation costs.

  Design: Simple designs usually mean less cost. For example, a New England Cape Cod is probably going to be less expensive than a Victorian design of the same floor area.

  Volume: Avoiding cathedral areas and using that volume to include a second floor will reduce cost per square foot.

  Timber frame variables: An Eastern white pine frame is usually less expensive than other species. Short spans and common rafters (as opposed to principal trussed rafters with purlins) will usually reduce costs. Square edged timbers without chamfering will also help contain costs.

  Windows and doors: Keeping windows to a minimum, using the double hung style of windows and staying with basic argon filled, low emissivity glass can reduce cost greatly.

  Interior finishes and materials: Shopping carefully for kitchen cabinets, appliances and bath fixtures will help reduce costs. Items such as installing a wood-burning stove in lieu of a fireplace can save money. Selecting less expensive floor finishes will also help.

  Exterior finish materials: Lesser grades of siding and trim can create significant savings. Staying with architectural grade shingles as opposed to steel or tile is also advisable.

                                           Comparing Package Prices:

  It is vitally important to understand that materials, quality and service vary greatly from one company to another.
For example: Few timber frame companies design, sell and install the first floor joist system and, when they do you must inquire the type of materials they will be using and the loads (weight and deflection) to which they design. When I design a home, I engineer the first floor joist system as part of the architectural package. I include complete lists and details for the system using the best materials and designed for 45 pounds per square foot of live load (40lbs/square foot is all that is required).

                              The Cost of Building A Timber Frame Home:

  Completed Cost: Inclusive of garage, decks, and basement, based on constructed floor area of the house proper, but not including walkout basements or garage floor areas:

Simple design built in a competitive market: $125 - $150 per square foot:
                         $65 - $85 per square foot, owner more sweat equity *

Simple design built in an inflated market: $135 - $160 per square foot:
                         $65 - $95 per square foot, owner more sweat equity *

Complex design built in a competitive market: $150 - $200 & up per square foot:
                         $70 - $100 per square foot, owner more sweat equity *

Complex design built in an inflated market: $165 - $225 & up per square foot:
                         $70 - $115 per square foot, owner more sweat equity *

*** The above costs are based on my experience and are intended to serve as a general guide only and are not a guarantee of the cost of and for any particular completed home. ***