Timber frames don’t spring up overnight. We’ve been involved in some projects that have had gestation periods as long as five years. That’s not usually the norm, but then again, there may not really be a norm. There is, however, a somewhat predictable trajectory once everyone is ready to sign contracts and set the ball rolling. Here’s a typical project workflow up to the completion of the timber frame work:
- General Contractor is brought on board; construction plans submitted to building officials; Permits issued; Timber frame contracts signed and deposit paid.
- Timber frame design finalized and engineering seal received.
- Timber order placed.
- Timbers arrive in shop and fabrication work commences, progress billings issued.
- Builder completes excavation and grading, foundation work, and main floor deck framing; if the timber frame is a hybrid, the conventional wall framing is completed up to the necessary point; foundation is back-filled and site prepared for arrival of timber frame.
- Timber frame site manager inspects site to verify site conditions and accuracy of framing and foundation work.
- Timber frame is delivered by tractor trailer or flat-bed truck, crane and other raising equipment arrive on site; timber frame raising crew arrives.
- Frame is off-loaded and staged, spread out to make timbers accessible for the planned sequence of operations.
- Frame is erected, fastened into deck or foundation or conventionally-framed walls; final touch up work completed.
- Timber frame enclosure work begins; built-up roof, SIP walls; timber frame is fully dried in.
- Timber frame crew leaves site and general contractor brings in his/her crew and subcontractors to complete project.
That’s a lot of planning, sequencing, coordinating, communicating, telephone calling, ordering, paperwork handling, etc. — not to mention the efforts of the timber frame craftspeople carving a giant jigsaw puzzle that has to go together right. So it should be obvious that keeping things moving along smoothly is pretty critical. Project managers have a term for complex endeavors like this — critical path planning. If one or more of the necessary steps of the process is late or incomplete or incorrectly completed, the whole project falters.
That can have pretty dire consequences. Not just for the project completion timeline, but for the timber framing company’s scheduling obligations, for the homeowner’s financing, for the finished quality of the project, for everybody’s bottom line — nobody gets off Scot free.