There’s hardly a part of the process of building a timber framed home that’s quite as devoid of sex appeal as the contract. Yet, contracts are a vital part of the working partnership that you will have with a timber frame company. We think that, in the final analysis, the contract is a pretty simple thing: a statement of our commitment to you, and your commitment to us.
Below is some of the most important information about our contracts. Of course, if you’re thinking of working with us, we’ll be happy to let you have a look at a contract template so you know what you’ll be getting into. Our typical contract template doesn’t always satisfy a particular client’s requirements.If you see something in our contract that doesn’t fit in with your project management program, we’d be happy to discuss it with you and come up with an alternate contractual arrangement.
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Two Different Kinds of Contracts
Broadly speaking, we have two different kinds of contracts: one for the timber frame design, fabrication and erection; and one for architectural or construction document design services. When we write a timber frame contract, we’ve done a careful analysis of the elements that comprise the timber frame project as a whole, so we have a pretty good idea what all the project costs are going to be, and that we’re going to be able to make — and not lose — money.
A construction document or architectural design contract is a little different. We do try to give you a reasonably accurate estimate of the amount of time necessary to complete the drawings, but there are a number of variables not entirely within our control that ultimately determine how much time we’ll have to put into the drawings. For this reason, our design contracts are written specifying a dollar amount to be charged per hour of design work, and a retainer to be paid at contract inception.
Timber Frame Contracts — Our Commitment to You
We like our contracts to be all-inclusive. You probably do, too. No hidden additional charges, just one clear number for you to plug into your budget. Here is a list of the things that are usually included in our scope of services and spelled out in our contracts:
- Timber frame design (not architectural design) and engineering evaluation, shop drawings sealed by a profession engineer licensed in your state
- Handcrafting — no CNC machines “carving” your frame
- All materials needed for the fabrication and erection of the frame
- Material specifications: species, grade, condition (planed or rough-sawn, etc.)
- Finish: oiled, stained, sanded, brushed, interior vs. exterior finish
- Edge conditions, chamfered or not chamfered
- Erection on your prepared site
- Whether the pegs are cut off proud of or flush with the timber face
- Steel and other custom hardware
- Equipment and crane rental allowances (We make a good faith effort to estimate as exactly as possible the amount of money that we will have to pay to the crane company. If we go over that amount, we submit a bill for the overage to the client or GC (contracting party); if we’re under that amount, we refund the unused balance to the contracting party.)
- Shipping of the timber frame components to the job-site
- Our travel and per diem expenses
- Consultations prior to and after the erection
We also always include in our contract papers at least one drawing — often more — of the timber frame design that we are contracting to erect. Anything that doesn’t show up on the drawing isn’t part of the contracted scope of the drawing. Sometimes we’ll show walls or other features of the structure like stairs — just for context. We try to make as clear as possible what’s included and what’s not.
Timber Frame Contracts–Your Commitment to Us
Your side of the deal isn’t just about the money, and when to pay it. When we give you a price quote to build a timber frame, we’re assuming that there are couple of things that you will do for us to make the process as efficient as possible:
- A Few Simple Construction Materials
- Keeping the Site Open and Accessible for Our Crew
- Having the Site Ready for Us
- One really big, important matter is the readiness of the site to receive our timbers. We’ll work with you and your builder to clearly establish what needs to be in place in order for us to put your frame up. And we usually will do a site visit a week or so ahead of the scheduled raising just to head off any potential problems. Timely notification that the work is falling behind schedule is extremely important. Things like crane rental, trucking, lodging, and so on have to be arranged well in advance of the raising. Often, our crane and trucking subcontractors have other work scheduled right behind ours. Delays will have an impact on our other projects, too, pushing them back and inconveniencing other clients. So, the sooner we know the schedule is going to have change, the better for everyone. The accuracy of the work that precedes us is of paramount importance. A foundation or deck that isn’t level or square can wreak havoc with a timber frame raising, costing us time and money because of the increase in labor to make things work, and diminishing the overall quality of the erected frame.
Architectural Design Contracts
Once you’ve signed a contract for a timber frame, the design usually doesn’t change much. Not so with the architectural design. Homes usually get designed in an evolutionary manner. They rarely spring out of one’s mind fully formed. Even if the original concept doesn’t change, finalizing the design almost always involves a seemingly endless trail of small compromises that require constant adjustment and re-adjustment of dimensions, material choices, construction methodologies, and so on.
That’s why we have a separate contract for our architectural design services. We just can’t know for absolutely certain how much time will be needed to get from the bubble diagram to the full construction document set. There is a litany of things that influences the speed and cost of the design process:
- How Much Homework You’ve Done
- Do You Have Trouble Making Up Your Mind?
- What Are Your Building Department and Zoning Board Like?
- What’s Your Builder Like?
- What You Can Expect from Our Architectural Design Services