We all feel grounded and comfortable around something nicely crafted of wood. It has colour, tone, grain and character marks that remind us of nature and our environment. Seeing a crafted structure like a timber frame always generates awe and wonder at the skill and care someone took to create a home - as more than just space to live in. I've always thought of a timber frame structure as a big piece of amazing furniture that is the basic building block of your home - accenting the other choices you make = the view out the window, the laughter of kids, and the smells from the kitchen. It is hard to put into words, but you know it when you see it - better yet when you experience it. You can create this special atmosphere for your family and we'll make sure it is done right.
Tell me what you love about wood in your home 250 - 218 - 7097
Why is Churchill Timberworks special?
The unique talents at CT are our extensive experience and the focused attention we bring to every project. Each project gets Randy's absolute attention until it is raised and tuned and right. That doesn't mean the cost is crazy, just that we consciously maintain an intimate connection with each piece of wood passing over the sawhorses to become part of your home. With so many custom projects in our portfolio, we've seen lots of unique situations and know how to tackle any size project. Every project has important client expectations, and every project has a budget - we'll help you sort all that out. We can ramp up staff and support as needed to take on special larger projects, or we can be available at your shoulder if you want to "do it yourself". Something else I don't always appreciate but folks comment on, is the work ethic and care integral to being a professional craftsperson - others find it reassuring and comforting to be around. Come visit the shop and see for yourself that you are not just a number in the production queue.
Call and find out for yourself 250 - 218 - 7097
Do we need an architect to design our home?
This seems like a simple question, but the answer is not always easy. It depends on your ability to visualize, and your expectations. Sometimes we design homes for people that are relatively sure of what they want, and our scope focuses on gentle steering and detailing for best building practices. Other times, the client needs lots of guidance to make all the decisions required and having an architect on the building team is really valuable (if not essential). Years of building have convinced me that a good architect "usually" saves money on a project and helps a lot, but be warned that there are lots of architects and designers that are challenged incorporating heavy timbers and can take a project sideways pretty fast. It is much harder to find the right architect / designer than it is to find a good builder or tradesperson - be cautious and thorough in putting together your building team, and do it long before you want to stick a shovel in the ground. Contact us if you'd like a referral to a skilled design professional. Good design takes quite a bit of time for a quality family residence and must include close consultation with other members of your building team. Note that the design phase is often the hardest part for you the home Owner. Every frame gets a thorough engineering review and sign off - required in almost every jurisdiction on the west coast (typically part of our package for you).
This is a hard one and I am happy to explain in more detail 250 - 218 - 7097
What are the main points to a great house building project?
After more than 180 custom heavy timber projects and home builds, I believe the following considerations should be front and centre for you as you undertake making a home for your family: 1) Invest in good plans well in advance of starting (note that you need to have your land selected to make plans); then be really reluctant and cautious about changing your mind. 2) Select your building team based on skilled reputation rather than lowest initial price quote, check references. 3) Invest in great materials rather than more volume.
I could also be called the frugal builder, ask me why 250 - 218 - 7097
How is a timber frame project different than conventional?
Incorporating heavy timbers into your home theme requires some forethought and a bit of additional coordination among the trades. But it definitely is NOT a problem for a good building team. Early, and thorough, design gives us the time to acquire timbers - you can't get this stuff from the local lumberyard; even better if it can be dried first. A timber frame usually "interacts" with several other systems (plumbing, electrical, ducting, etc) so planning needs to take place well before crews arrive on site and before we fabricate your frame in the shop.
It's your house! Build what you want to live in 250 - 218 - 7097
Timber framing is too expensive for most people, right?
Definitely not. Every project has a budget and you get to decide what parts of your house you want to be special. Some opt for simple volume while others appreciate that the quality of a home is more closely tied to great materials and quality craftspersonship. Hybrid design, where part of a home is timbered (a living room for example) and some is not, is a great way to control costs. A timber frame home, if everything else was exactly similar to a conventional stick home, can cost 15-35% more - but good design up front can get you in a timber frame home for any reasonable custom home budget. There is no obligation if you call us to kick options around and see for yourself. Note that custom home costs can swing widely - i.e. from $225 to $500 per square foot of space (or more) - a timber frame is NOT the biggest impact on your costs, we can explain that in more detail if you like. Including us in your initial design consultations can dramatically drive down your project costs, as opposed to trying to incorporate framing after you've made other big decisions. Many of our clients over the years have been of "average" financial means - they have chosen a timber frame for basic value of a well crafted home, and for the amazing aesthetics that they get to enjoy every day in their home.
The earlier you call the more money you can save. 250 - 218 - 7097
That was pretty basic - can you tell me more about costs?
Contemporary building is a highly interactive and transparent process since everyone has access to lots (sometimes too much) data and information. We are comfortable sharing lots of detail about our costs and pricing structure because we don't want you to experience any surprises, nor be disappointed at the end of the project. Smaller, odd projects are totally individualized and the cost will mostly be a function of labor time you ask us to put in - we do amazing work and ask only to be paid a fair wage for that effort and expertise. A custom home timber frame project is a bit easier to estimate - figure 1/4 of total for each of wood, shop, install, and overhead costs. Drilling down even further we find that costs are 'mostly' dependent on the number of sticks of wood we need to process. A typical full house frame project can run $40 - 75 per square foot installed (obvious caveats and exceptions for non-standard requests / situations) so you see the range is huge. Please don't get too focused on price up front - many times we can compete dollar for dollar with a regular custom building, but you can get a dramatically different result. A short conversation on the phone is the easiest way to see how timber framing can work with your budget.
The more info about have about your ideas, the more I can help trim costs. 250 - 218 - 7097
We are an instant gratification society, how long will it take?
Folks can get discouraged with the time taken to construct custom things - we've become acclimatized to having most things readily available at the store a short / quick trip away. We can typically respond pretty well to most requests for custom timbers, but here are some of the constraints we face. Your timbers are custom ordered for your project - sometimes the perfect log is still in the woods or on the bottom of a big pile at a log sort. Time to get timber cants into our shop from date of Order / Contract is often 4-8 weeks and can be longer depending on season (winter, fire, etc) and drying requirements. Each carpenter usually cuts 2 - 10 sticks a day depending on complexity; and then we need a week to raise a good sized frame. Add the complication of projects already in the queue ahead of you. That's a lot of words to ask you for 3 - 6 months minimum to process your frame before coming to site. The more advance time we have the better your wood will be because of drying and movement, ideally you purchase your wood one year to build the next. An option is to purchase stable salvaged wood which we love to work with, but it can cost more. We work hard and will do an amazing diligent job for you, but working with these big chunks takes some time, a good shop space, and special skills. Because information is so easy to share, we usually report and send pictures to the Owner weekly about our progress - most Owners also get to our shop to see it in action as well. If you are really in a hurry, there is an option for kiln-dried timbers - and you will pay extra for the service. But the timbers are great and stable, and sometimes this is the best option for your project. An old adage in the building world is "Quality, schedule, and cost - pick two"; this still largely holds true even though most of our culture has changed so drastically in so many other ways. Every project needs to find the balance point on that triad.
We won't be the fastest, probably not the cheapest - are those factors the most important to you? 250 - 218 - 7097
How does Churchill Timberworks run projects? The techniques of project management, and managing client's expectations, have drastically changed the way even simple building projects should be run IMHO. Clients deserve the respect of significant transparency in dealing with tradesman and an honest conversation about "overhead" and "profit" up front to mitigate some of the risks of a project and nurture an atmosphere of shared, sympathetic objectives. The high fruit goal is to achieve high quality results for a fair price - if either party is working toward another purpose the relationship will be challenged. Most families build one home when time, health and resources all line up - we understand that and know how to avoid drama and risk to make it happen with you. Specifically, we run online budgets and schedules so owners have up to date information. Additionally we'll have a weekly summary of progress and planning to avoid surprises and down the road risks.
I believe people deserve more information about something as complex / costly as their home. 250 - 218 - 7097
I'm thinking of a Do-It-Myself project, am I crazy? Many will take a dim view of that (couldn't resist - DIM, get it?), but not us - we love this type of project and are at your service. Few people take on a full project and do ALL the building themselves - inspectors and codes have something to say about that. I've built for myself and GC'ed several home projects so I speak with the welts, bruises and satisfaction to have some opinions and stories. Your goals are admirable and I won't try to dissuade you; in fact I like to help DIYers because these projects add an element of fun and intangible reward that regular projects don't. I caution anyone that believes a major cost saving will be realized if you build yourself - this just doesn't happen in the real world when you factor any reasonable rate for your own labour except in the rarest circumstances (i.e. once in 20 years / 100 projects). You can achieve a very high quality, personalized home if working on it yourself. The warm fuzzy of providing a roof for your family is hard to beat. Note that this can be achieved if you are part of the everyday crew on the home; you don't have to be the main know-it-all do-it-all. There is a range of options for you depending on your skills, your schedule expectations, and your financial situation - I've worked beside home owner-builders many times and am glad to share what I know about it. Some of the very best homes I've worked on have been for owner-builders; seldom are they the 'worst' ones -- which is my way of saying that the range of craft person (professional) also varies tremendously.
Not crazy yet, maybe at the end of the project 250 - 218 - 7097
I've heard building a house is hard on relationships, what do you think?
Here comes the bus, I'll jump in front of it because it is an important concern. Better to talk about this up front and put some light on it than let toxic feelings fester and explode later. Little of my grey hair comes from stresses in the shop, our personal relationships form most of who we are and I can get a bit philosophical about this stuff. One complication of building in the twenty teens (i.e. 2017) is that a lot people don't have tactile and practical hands-on skills because their upbringing, training and careers involve more "information flow" than getting dirty. Most people take on one home building project in their lifetime and it is a huge investment of time, energy and money. It is ALWAYS going to be stressful on a couple and if you've got good communication / negotiating skills going in you'll do just fine. Most of the time, right out of the gate, I find one partner is the 'dreamer' and the other claims to be the 'practical' one (using titles to make a point). Both of you will enter the project with your private balance of hopes and worries, but you will find yourselves advocating opposing sides as soon as the talk of budget starts. Then you'll become more entrenched with time as the money flows, and this is when it gets stressful. Stop, regroup, reconnect, avoid personalized attacks, listen and speak honestly to affirm your common goals. As an exercise, trade places every now and then (weekly) - the "dreamer" needs to also focus on detailed cash flow and the "practical one" can safely think about spicing up the project. CT will help the process because we calmly understand the complex issues and have been through it ourselves - we'll add minimal drama to the mix, and we won't take sides as it takes both big ideas and a focus on expenses to create your special home.
I am just a simple, humble carpenter 250 - 218 - 7097
What kind of woods do you recommend?
Working projects from coast to coast we've got sources of great timber to create the theme and spirit you want in your home. Here on the west coast we are close to the best growing Douglas Fir in the world which is a great wood to use. Another of our favourites is Western Larch that we bring in either green or standing dead - and is special because of its rich earthy colour and distinct grain; with its high pitch content it also works well for exterior elements. Salvaged or reclaimed timbers have always been attractive to discriminating clients because they are the "green" option and come with a story of previous use. We love working with reclaimed woods because it is stable and will always look fantastic. Other woods are available for special projects including Port Orford Cedar, Oak, Cyprus, Hemlock & Spruce. Some woods don't work well at all for timber framing and we will sort that out with you (i.e. Ironwood 'timbers' someone requested once). A 'modern' or industrial theme can be achieved using engineered woods - Glu-lams, CLTs - and some attractive mechanical fasteners. Metal fasteners (hidden or exposed) are often required to pass engineering review and those are part of our scope as well.
Will try not to bore you, but I can talk about wood all day long 250 - 218 - 7097
Submit your questions - to get answers, and make this page better.
Reach me any way you wish (phone, email, Contact page, other) with your query. I'll get back to your promptly and, having answered questions about these topics for 20 years, won't ever consider any question a bad one. I'm here to help, its what I like to do. Standing by, Randy
No such thing as bad weather - just inappropriate clothing. Call (250)218-7097 today, tell us about your project and let's talk about making it even better. Thanks for your interest.