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What services does TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES provide?

TREE TOP TIMBER FRAME’S designers work with you to design your custom home. We provide you with:

  • Custom designs
  • Main floor plan and notes
  • Loft/Second floor plans
  • Roof plan and notes
  • Floor framing plan and notes
  • Exterior building elevations (4) drawings
  • Building sections drawings
  • Building details drawings. Incorporating high performance energy efficient weather tight building details.
  • Foundation plan and notes (Designed and Stamped by a Professional Timber Frame Structural Engineer)
  • Timber Frame drawings (Designed and Stamped by a Professional Timber Frame Structural Engineer)
  • Electrical plan and notes
  • Door and hardware schedule
  • Window schedule
  • Room finish and millwork schedule
  • Schematic site plan
  • Timber Frame Structural Engineering design
  • Timber Frame Architectural design
  • Complete Project & Building Cost Estimates
  • Written specifications for the excavation, foundation, Timber Frame and building enclosure
  • Hand crafted traditionally joined Timber Frames
  • Timber Frame dowels

How much time is required to fabricate and erect a Timber Frame home?

Time to completion of any building depends on the complexity and size of the building. Once the working drawings are complete and the timbers have arrived, a 2500 sq ft timber frame would take between four and six weeks of shop time to fabricate. Approximately one week to assemble and erect the timber frame and two weeks to install the roof and wall enclosures. From start of fabrication to enclosure finish, a project of this size would take approximately 6 to 8 weeks.


What kind of wood does TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES use for their frames?

The most common local woods are Douglas Fir, Spruce and Pine. Maple, Oak, Cherry or almost any available species of wood can be used. For timbers that will be exposed to the elements we can either use any wood with has been treated with our special timber preservative or Western Red Cedar.

For the dowels we have used Oak, Hickory, Ash and Rock Maple. We also fabricate our own dowels complete with end embellishments (several options available).

We have established relations with many timber suppliers and are now able to procure kiln dried and recycled timbers. We can help you make an educated choice for your project.


Can we choose the type of finish to be used on the timbers?

Yes. Timbers can be left rough sawn or natural hand-hewn or distressed to appear hundreds of years old or sanded smooth, stained and polished to resemble fine furniture. The pallet of colours is endless from the ebony lacquer finish to whitewashed and any tone in between.


What is checking and how does it affect the strength of the timbers?

As timber dries the changes in it’s dimensions, during drying, are not equal in all directions. The difference in girth and diameter shrinkage rates induces tension stress that cause lengthwise separation of the wood. There are several ways in which checking can be minimized by either removing the heart of the tree from the timber (free of heart timbers), by using recycled timber, by using standing dead or by using air dried or kiln-dried timber.

Checking and shrinkage are primarily aesthetic problems not structural. The only time checking would be of structural concern would be if a check extends clear through a timber. Since the timbers, typically used in Timber Frame construction, are similar in depth as they are in width, the checks typically do not extend through the timbers. If for some reason a check extends through a timber our Structural Engineers can recalculate the structural capacity, of the checked timber, to determine if remedial repairs are required. Our Structural Engineers have developed a simple cost effect way of strengthening severely checked timbers. For more information on shrinkage and checking see web site section “Timber Structure” under “Shrinkage and Drying”.

We have developed a check control method that helps drive the checks towards the outside of the timbers, where they will not be seen. Our check control system helps to minimize checks but does not eliminate them. This work takes longer, but the extra details ensure the highest quality Timber Frame possible.


Do the timbers warp and twist?

Yes, a certain amount (small) of movement and shrinkage is to be expected when using green timber. None when using reclaimed or kiln dried timbers. Shrinkage usually begins to appear in the first and second year after construction. If at all possible the frame should be marginally heated, for working conditions, for the first complete winter. In essence, this allows for almost two full years of slow drying before the timbers are subjected to blasting heat. Checking and shrinkage will be diminished quite noticeably compared to those that were heated in the first winter.

This shrinkage is taken into account in our engineering and detailing of the timber joinery.


Does the Timber Frame require special cleaning and maintenance?

No, depending of the type of finish that is applied to the timbers. The timbers are cleaned and coated with two coats of a urethane finish (the same durable finish used on hardwood floors) before they leave our shop. This finish will last the lifetime or your house. Shipping, assembly and raising inevitably results in some scuffmarks and dirt. We repair all the scuffmarks upon completion of raising. If you choose an oil finish you need to re-oil the timbers after several years to bring back the color. We recommend that the entire structure be wiped or washed down upon completion of drywalling, and before you begin to paint the walls.

For exterior timbers we apply a high quality three coat exterior stain system. These timbers will require a simple cleaning and re-coat every three to five years.

All timbers, with any type of finish, will require dusting. With living in and dusting a Timber Frame for nearly 10 years, we can show you ways to make this nasty job a little simpler.


Is plumbing and wiring a problem?

No, if you are using our roof and panellized wall systems the plumbing and electrical work is identical to that for a conventional stick built home.


Is Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning a problem?

No, the HVAC is identical to that for a conventional stick built home. Because the building is extremely airtight a HRV (heat recovery ventilator or air exchanger) will need to be installed. Not only does the HRVs assure a constant flow of fresh air, in an energy efficient manner, they also provide a great degree of control of relative humidity of the interior air. It is our opinion that all homes, whether the home is Timber Framed or conventional stick built, should all have HRVs to ensure a steady flow of fresh incoming air.


Does TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES build the house?

If the project is within a reasonable distance of our Edmonton location, in addition to the Timber Frame, we can provide the foundation, the roof and wall enclosures as well as the interior walls and floors, up to lock up. We can also act as the Builder and complete the entire project.

Outside of Canada we provide one of our master craftsmen to supervise and train your builder in the raising of your Timber Frame.


What is the insulation R-value of TREE TOP TIMBER FRAME’S roof and wall enclosures? Do your homes meet R-2000 criteria?

Our wall system has an R35 insulation value when using 2X6 construction. Our roofs range from R40 to R60, depending on the depth of the rafters selected. We also use high performance energy efficient windows and doors with airtight construction. Yes our homes meet and exceed R-2000 criteria, using one-quarter to one-half of the energy used in a conventionally built home.


What are structural insulated panels (SIP) and what is the difference between SIPs and TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES panellized wall and roof system?

SIPs is a general term used to describe a foam core panel that has interior and exterior oriented strand board (OSB) already applied to it. Typically they have expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation, which has an R-value of 3.75 per inch thickness. An interior poly air/vapour barrier is also required.

TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES wall panellized system is similar to the SIP without the insulation and interior sheathing. The insulation is a spray applied polyurethane foam, which has an extremely high R-value of 6 per inch thickness. The insulation is sprayed into the walls once the rough wiring and plumbing is complete, much like that in a conventional house. A separate air/vapour is not required since the foam insulation also performs this function. The insulation and interior sheathing are applied after the plumbing and electrical rough in work is complete. Our wall and roof system costs less than SIPs and provides twice the insulation value.

Fibreglass insulation complete with a poly air/vapour barrier, identical to that used in conventional stick build homes, or SIPs can be used with our wall and roof enclosure systems in place of the polyurethane insulation. The fibreglass insulation has an R-value of 3 per inch thickness and is the most economical enclosure system available.

Our wall panel system can become full structural building components, extending the many benefits of the panel system to areas of the home that are not framed in Timber Frame.
You may choose any of the enclosure systems. We help you select the enclosure system that meets your budget.


What is the difference between Post & Beam construction and Timber Frame construction?

In Post & Beam construction, as in Timber Frame construction, the frame’s individual timbers are visible from the inside of the building. Timber Frame construction is different in that the timber joints do not rely on bolts, clamps or exposed steel plates to joint the posts and beams. With Timber Frame buildings the joinery is done with hardwood pegs, mortises (female parts of the joinery) and tenons (the male parts). Timber Frame requires more craftsmanship.


What is the difference between conventional construction and Timber Frame construction?

Unlike conventional homes in which the frame, built with two by sixes, is concealed beneath gyproc or plaster boards, the frame, built with large eight by eight finished timbers, for Timber Frame construction is entirely exposed. These heavy timbers make a stunning architectural design feature.


What about interior walls?

Interior walls are built conventionally. The interior partitions can be built between posts and under beams keeping in mind that seasonal changes in the timbers requires special detailing. Building the walls next to the timbers eliminates gaps and fitting requirements, and you can also run the second story wiring and plumbing without drilling timbers.


What kind of floor systems can I use?

Floor systems can be built with timbers, conventional joists or a combination of the two. You can use 2 inch thick tongue and groove wood decking placed directly on top of a Timber Framed floor beams , creating a ceiling and floor in one operation. Several draw backs to this system are a squeaky floor, and no cavity for ductwork, wiring, and plumbing. You can also use conventional joist placed on top to a 2 inch thick layer of tongue and groove wood decking or drywall which is placed on top of the Timber Framed floor beams. This makes for a silent floor and creates a cavity for ductwork, wiring, plumbing and insulation for noise proofing. This system also allows you to use different ceiling finishes in different rooms. Some rooms you may want a drywalled ceiling while others you may want a wood ceiling.


What finishing options are available for doors, windows, roofing, exterior walls, interior walls and floors on a Timber Frame?

All conventional options are available. We can supply and install high performance energy efficient doors and windows.
Interior ceilings and walls can be finished in either wood planking or drywall.


Does a Timber Frame home require a special foundation?

No, Timber Frame structures can be built on poured concrete, block, slab, insulated concrete forms or wood foundations. The foundations must be adequately reinforced at the post locations. Post pockets are framed into the first floor and the posts go through the deck and bear on the foundation. The foundations must be designed and stamped by a Professional Timber Frame Structural Engineer. We have a full time Structural Engineer on staff. If your home is in a high wind area or in a high seismic load area special post anchorage systems may need to be incorporated into our design.


Why is Geotechnical Soils Investigation and Report required for a Timber frame home and not normally required for a conventional stick built home?

Timber Frame structures fall under Part 4 of the National Building Code of Canada titled “Structural Design” as compared to conventional stick built buildings which fall under Part 3 of the National Building Code of Canada. Part 4 is a structural section of the building codes and it covers all structures constructed from steel, concrete and timbers. Because Timber Frame homes are defined as Post and Beam construction they must be designed to Part 4 of the code. Part 4 of the code requires that a Professional Structural Engineer design the structure and foundation. The Professional Engineer requires the soils investigation and report to design the foundation for the soils conditions that are at the project site. Conventional built buildings are not defined as Post and Beam and therefore do not require a Professional Structural Engineer to design the building.TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES has Structural Engineers on staff with extensive foundation experience. We have designed foundations for structures all across Canada including the Northwest Territories. Our Engineers are licensed in many of the provinces.


Can TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES adapt a conventional design to a Timber Frame design?

Yes, there is no reason why a conventional design cannot be constructed with Timber Frame. However, since we need to balance the structural capacities, of the timbers, with the requirements of the floor plan, we ask that you allow us a bit of flexibility to make necessary changes or adjustments so ensure proper location of posts. There will be some minor differences in the foundation and sub floor systems.


What determines the price of my Timber Frame Custom design?

  • Size of your home (square footage and cubic footage enclosed)
  • Complexity of the Timber Frame – dormers, hammer beams
  • Degree of finish – embellishments
  • Type of finish (oil, urethane, and the number of coats)
  • Species of wood
  • Quality of timber cut (free of heart, boxed heart, center cut)
  • Whether or not the wood is green, recycled or kiln dried
  • Overall volume of wood used
  • Number of pieces
  • Site location and conditions

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How much does a Timber Frame cost?

This question is asked quite often and it is as easy to answer as “how much does a television cost”. Typically our Timber Frames cost $25.00 to $35.00 per square foot of home space. This is approximately 20 to 30 percent more than a conventional stick built home and approximately half the cost of a log home. Compared to conventional buildings our Timber Frames:

  • Are constructed with materials of much higher quality
  • Are crafted with traditional joinery by highly skilled craftspeople
  • Have enclosures that use higher quality insulation which can be more expensive
  • Requires more planning, design time and engineering

A typical building cost summary is as follows:

We also prepare complete project and building cost estimates.

The higher quality nature of our Timber Frames often inspires our clients to upgrade on finishes to do justice to the exposed Timber Frame structure. The first step to a successful project is to prepare a complete set of Timber Frame design drawings and written specifications. This will allow you to acquire accurate quotes and bids. Call us to show you how to build a timber frame home that meets your budget and exceeds your dreams.


Do you build Timber Frames in the United States?

Yes we construct Timber Frames in the U.S. We typically fly the Owner up to Edmonton via Edmonton’s International Airport (15 minutes from our office) for a weekend, to complete the initial design. Our engineers have working knowledge of the American timber and building codes, including seismic analysis and design. The complete pre-finished Timber Frame will be shipped to the project job site. The Owner’s local General Contractor will assemble and erect the Timber Frame under the supervision of one of our master craftspeople. Because of the large difference in American to Canadian currency the Timber Frame cost is substantially less than what it costs if it was supplied and fabricated in the United States.


Does TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES have a show home available for viewing?

Yes we have a completed Timber Frame show home available for viewing. The show home is 2400 sq. ft. with a full Timber Framed walkout basement, and large great space. Please call to make an appointment we look forward to meeting you.


How has living in a Timber Frame, for such a long period of time, made you a stronger Timber Frame designer?

Unlike most Timber Framers, we actually do live in a Timber Frame home. We have been in our home for over 14 years. By actually living in a Timber Frame we have first hand experience on many important timber related design items such as timber drying and shrinkage, effective lighting, the influence of sunlight on the timbers, the performance of finishes and timber durability in a family setting. There is no replacement for such experience.


What documents does TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES need in order to begin an initial design?

  • Sketches and ideas of your home.
  • Architectural style (nice to have).
  • Copies of any magazine design ideas and details you would like incorporated into your design.
  • Registered Survey Plan of Property (if available).
  • Property covenants (if available).
  • Zoning and deed restrictions.
  • Land Use By-Laws (if available).
  • Topographical map (if available).
  • Site Photos.
  • Soils report (if available).

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The first step to a successful timber frame project begins by working with the client on the architectural concept. TREE TOP TIMBER FRAMES also has numerous design aids that can help with your design. Books such as “The Not So Big House”, “Timberframe Interiors” and “Timberframe Plan Book”, sample floor plans and many pictorials.

If we have not answered your questions, please do not hesitate to contact us with your request.

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