Building a timber frame house step by step

When it comes to element prefabrication construction for many of you it is a new way of building and creates many questions. And even those who are well familiar with this type of building shall know everything about each stage of the project to be well prepared. In this article we will talk about all possible stages, pointing out which you would do with us and which you have to prepare on your own. And most importantly we will share the tips on what things you have to consider at each stage to make your whole building process easier, shorter, save your time and money.


A step by step guide on good preparation for and execution of an element house construction:


1. Building Site

Of course there is no house without it's building site. But the reason why it is important and worth discussing is that the design of the house depends on the location. Or vise versa, if you have the drawings, you shall look for a site that will do better for your house. Because, these two are related, we will discuss the mutual points in the following section. But when

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looking for the site find out these things that may influence your whole project cost:

  • Know what utilities are connected to the property before you buy. Undeveloped land is often lacking in utilities. There is a cost and effort involved in bringing utilities to a property that does not already have them. These utilities include power, water, gas, telephones, and cable.

  • How much of the land is suitable for building on it? Sometimes clients buy a land thinking they can build a big house there and it turns out that there are restrictions.

  • What other restrictions are there? Total height, door opening widths, exterior design, etc.

2. Design drawings

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The above points will have to be considered in your house design. For example, the total height restriction is very important to be mentioned to the manufacturer, because the chosen roof layers may sometimes be not the same to what architect have drawn. And if they are thicker then the total height will turn out bigger than allowed and that's a problem. If the house engineer knows the restrictions, he/she will suggest to lower internal height of the rooms or reconsider roof, floor layers. Other things to consider:

  • Where is north, south, west and east of the site in relation to main entrance? Sometimes clients think only about the view from the windows - they locate terrace there, because it has a nice view; bedroom there, because it is a quite side, and so on. And this is great! But also think where specific rooms have to be located to have the warm sunset overlooking your bedroom window or terrace. South side will be the one to have the warmest rooms and less heating costs. North is always the coldest side, so think about placing your pantry, boiler room or other no-heating required rooms there. What room you want to have your early morning sun, should it be your office, kitchen, dining room?

  • Try to make as much area of the house usable, for example less dark corridors. This will not only leave some extra space for your rooms, but also save costs as no extra lighting in such rooms will be necessary. Unless this is the design you specifically want, and that's great!

When it comes to project drawings we expect you to come to us with one in hand. We do not design houses. We can answer questions and share tips on what designs would save you money, but you will need an architect to work with you on project drawing preparation.


3. Price quote

Once you have the drawings we can prepare the price quote for you! The drawings can be preliminary, you don't need to have a final set. What we need are plan, elevations/facade, sections drawings with main dimensions on it. At this stage the house price is estimated preliminary for you just to have an idea of what is included in the price and kit, and what the cost for all of it is. We advice to get quotes from couple chosen manufacturers and compare. Our advice: don't check only the cost, check what is actually in there. And know, the materials and also drawings itself can change at this stage, nothing is yet signed!


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4. Confirmation on your kit materials and contract

Once you are happy with initial stages we proceed to discussing the exact materials you want to include. For example, the preliminary quote usually includes standard materials that are usually average price and average quality. You may want to change to a more expensive parquet, windows or window trims, add stairs. Or save on some items, choose their simplest option or take out from the quote. All of it we itemize now, pick colors, wood types and more. At the same time the quote is updated to match your preferences. Also, we agree on production dates and delivery dates. We set a plan for following stages of the project so that you and us know when each step has to be done in order to keep with a confirmed delivery date.


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5. Technical drawings

Technical drawings are made by us for you and because at this stage you decided to build with us and sign the contract, the technical drawings are for free. Those are architectural detailed drawings with all your chosen layers, to see the exact total heights, widths, and other dimensions, to evaluate if any extra posts or partitions are needed to support the chosen roof or second floor. Technical drawings are to be signed by you to confirm the final look. All the changes and decisions that affect the internal or external dimensions of the house must be done at this stage.

The tricky part is that with traditional construction all can be solved and decided on-site while building a frame. However, with element, kit construction, you need everything to be confirmed on paper prior to element production. We know, it is sometimes hard to picture all the details, but we will do our best to help you visualize it with drawings, pictures, examples, etc. The best thing about it is that you do decisions, changes or even mistakes on paper until you find the best fitting results, and they do not cost you money. While with a traditional on-site construction you would be paying money for every single change and mistake. You will be glad you did that extra work in advance and have no stress during the actual construction.

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6. Production drawings

Production drawings are design of actual elements. All is done by our design engineer team. According to your choice of external cladding (vertical or horizontal), window placement and house dimensions they will evaluate in how many parts the walls, floors and if possible roof have to be divided to form efficient elements and have least and easier work on-site. The production drawings are done according to the technical drawings and are used for our manufactory workers to follow in production of every single element, which is hand made. It is advised to not have any changes at this stage of the project to keep up with our agreed delivery dates. But if the urgency occurs and there is a very important change to be made, in most cases we can allow it, but it will add some extra costs, for extra work done.


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7. Production

We are all set and the element production has started at this stage. The whole process is checked daily to ensure good quality and that everything is going according to the plan. You are welcome to visit the factory to see how the elements are looking. But we can also send you pictures and save your time.

At the same time the materials that are not in the element will be ordered, packed and stored to be ready for the delivery. It takes some time, so make sure all the advanced and production payments are done at this point and materials are ordered on time. Windows and doors are the materials that take longest to produce. Actually, they take even longer than all the elements: a standard 200m2 house will be pre-fabricated in 4-5 weeks and windows for the same house will take 5-6 weeks! We install windows to the elements in the factory, and this is why we need them at least 1-2 weeks before the production of elements ends. It may sound difficult to follow, but don't worry, our project manager assigned to your project will give you the exact dates and will follow up on you giving reminders to make sure we are all up to date!


8. Foundation

While the element production is going the foundation of the house has to be taken care off. We do not do the foundation works, but we will produce the outline drawing of the foundation with main weight points for your house. This will be issued together with the set of technical drawings. You will need to pass it to your foundation company who will know the perimeter dimensions of the foundation and main load points and will design a suitable option for you.

The foundation must be finished by the time our team arrives to the building site. They will inspect the outline dimensions of it to make sure our elements are ready to go on. Usually, the team does it a day or two before the first trailer arrives to the site.


9. Construction schedule plan

Other things that you will have to organize and plan in advance are electricity, plumbing, ventilation, any concrete works. These are the things our team will not do, but we will set a plan when each of these other teams have to come to the site to have a well organized work done by all these teams at the same time. The element assembly work is done fast, thus we must make sure all the teams are on time and ready to do their work with no general delays.

You will also have to take care of the crane and scaffolding. All the times and schedules will be done and confirmed by you and us before the delivery. In such way, everyone knows, what work and when has to be done.


11. Delivery

Once the production is finished we load the elements and completing materials on the trailer. The trailer schedule is also confirmed for you to know when to expect it on site. When the crane or forklifts are needed there for unloading. A standard 200m² house usually fits in 4 trailers. The trucks are most of the time ordered by us from our long-time partners, but if you find better deals or want to order yourself, you are welcome to do so.


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12. Assembly

So here we are at your building site awaiting for the first trailer to come. The foundation is inspected a day before, our team has a place to stay at during the assembly, the cranes are on site. You will be surprised how quickly the elements go up. In 2-3 days you will see all your walls in place. And by "walls" we meant it, it's not only the frame! The roof trusses or roof elements (depending on your roof design) will then go on and in couple more days, following our agreed construction schedule, the electricians and plumbers can go in. What's best at this stage you are less stressed, need less visits to the site for decision making, because all of them were made in advance, remember! So you just enjoy the process, answer some general simple design questions if any arise.


13. Sign off

Once our works agreed in the contract are one week away from completion we will ask you to inspect the works and put the list of complains or reminders to correct, do if any. Our team will then have a week to correct any issues and finish the last bits. If there are corrections that will take longer or the season is not right at the moment, we will plan together when these works can be made. After all is finished and the final payments are made, we will happily ask you to sign the completion form which will state that the house is handed over to you and it's all YOURS! Congratulations!


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