Where to Start . . . .
Higher quality, unique materials and craftsman detailing in our timber frames translate into higher costs than conventional construction. However, careful design and creative thinking can make a timber frame home reasonably affordable. We often will use a hybrid approach in our designs to reduce the number of "sticks" in our frame design yet minimizing aesthetic compromise. Careful attention to certain production details during the design process are surprisingly important in controlling costs.
Although the use of stock plans and cookie-cutter production methods can make a timber frame home less costly, that is simply not our mindset. We are creative people who build creative stuff and that means custom woodworking--not factory piecework. We also believe that a "stock-plan-with-modifications" approach severely limits a thoughtful exploration of the many opportunities available to create a harmonious balance between land, home and inhabitants. We will, however, utilize ideas gathered from various sources that are complimentary to your vision for your home. We encourage you to develop a scrapbook of design ideas early on, which proves immensely helpful as we work through the design process.
The Design Process:
EWH does not employ home design professionals. Rather, given our intense focus on visually compelling frame configurations and energy-efficient enclosure systems, we perform as a specialty consultant to your designer and general contractor to develop a frame design that is aesthetically pleasing and allows for cost-effective construction. We can also refer you to design professionals and contractors with long track records of successful projects and happy customers.
Following a frank discussion about your target budget, design development is the first phase of a complete design process. Through a series of questionnaires and consultations, your design professional will generate a set of preliminary plans that serve as the basis for initial cost estimating. In addition to providing recommendations for frame and enclosure systems, EWH will generate a "level 1" 3-dimensional file of the timber frame and building shell to assist you (and us) in visualizing the entire project. We will even teach you to "fly" through your proposed home on your own computer.
The EWH design process gives you an opportunity to develop a working relationship with us. It also provides a reality checkpoint for balancing the dreams developed on paper with the realities of budget limitations. Because design has such a major impact on cost, we want this checkpoint to occur well before you have invested in final design detailing during the construction document phase..
It is not uncommon for value-driven modifications to be made to your plan prior to moving into a construction document contract with your designer. Your designer, EWH, and your prospective general contractor will strive to keep you informed of potential costs as significant design information is generated. Over thirty years of high quality building has proven that a team approach between these parties throughout the design process is a prerequisite to successfully built projects.
Preliminary drawings are not construction plans. They do not have the level of detail or engineering specifications necessary for code compliance, permitting or construction. The primary purpose of preliminary drawings is to develop sufficient design and cost estimate information for you to make an informed decision about moving into the second phase, engineered construction documents.
Due to engineering specifications developed during the construction document phase and modifications to the plans or details that inevitably occur after preliminary drawing work, most contractors, including EWH, will not be able to provide fixed-price bids on anything but complete and fully engineered construction documents. Levels of detail vary dramatically between designers, but in a timber frame project more detail is usually better. Thoughtful construction detailing costs more money up front but ALWAYS saves money (and anxiety) over the course of the project. EWH continues in their role as specialty consultant to your designer throughout the construction document phase to help develop construction details that are logical, durable, and efficient.
Frame production and installation:
With construction drawings complete EWH will provide you with a scope of work proposal and bid for the timber frame and structural insulated panel system. We will also work with your General Contractor to help establish overall construction costs. Our typical contract includes:
* "Level 3" 3-D shop drawings for timber frame
* Timber and labor for joinery, pre-assembly and surface finishing
* Transportation and raising of timber frame on your jobsite
* Ceiling material installation over timber frame
* Structural panel shop-drawings, takeoffs, panel prep and installation.
* Continued technical assistance as requested through project completion