Starting a self build journey is a big job for those who have experience in construction or renovation so for those who are new to it, every step can feel like a monumental task. To try to make things a bit clearer, and hopefully less intimidating, our MD Simon Orrells has answered a few common questions about how to seek out an accurate timber frame quote for your project.

At what stage of your project should you start speaking to timber frame suppliers?

You should get in touch with a timber frame supplier as early in your project as possible. These suppliers can assist with design, building regulations and planning challenges, so if you take your questions to the specialist from the outset, it could prove to be much more cost effective.

What information will timber frame suppliers need from you to produce an accurate quote?

Every project is unique, so it’s best to provide as much information about your objectives as possible. In the planning stages of your project, you should give suppliers early planning drawings, elevation drawings and floor plans to get a budget cost.

If you’re in later stages of your project when you send your enquiry, and your build has received planning approval and it’s at building regulation stage, suppliers will require dimensional drawings, section elevations and site plans.

Cost is one of the most important factors in a project, so it’s important to be clear about your budget. It’s also helpful to suppliers if they understand your motivations. If sustainability is important to you, or you have specifications that you would like to incorporate into your build, be sure to share this.

Always be honest about how much involvement you require from the supplier. You may be experienced or very hands on with the project and only require the product as you’ll install the frame yourself. Or this may be your first project and require more support, so you’ll want to work closely with the supplier at every stage.

What will you get back from the timber frame supplier?

After you’ve had discussions about your brief and specifications, the supplier will offer you different products to suit your individual requirements.

The quote you receive will vary from company to company as some suppliers will simply provide an overall cost, whereas others will contribute a more detailed document to show exactly what you are paying for. Make sure you know what each quote covers before making your decision.

What are the common pitfalls when assessing timber frame quotes?

It’s crucial that you read your quotes carefully and question anything you don’t understand. It’s also important to get an idea of timescales early on as this can have a major impact on the overall project.

Many people also assume each quote will include everything you need to pay for, but this is not always the case. Some companies do not include mechanical handling fees (cranes and forklifts) in the price so check this has been included. And if it has been included, ensure this covers offloading as well as installation.

You should also check whether anything ‘structural’ for your timber frame is included in the quote, such as steelwork. The structural steelwork cannot exist without the timber frame and vice versa so if it’s missing, that means it’s extra.

How do you know the price is right?

It’s sensible to get quotes from at least three timber frame suppliers to compare costs and understand what your money buys.

You should always ensure suppliers are members of the Structural Timber Association (STA). Look for the STA Assure logo; this means the business has been independently audited against quality standards.  Asking to see the factory will be a worthwhile exercise, and make sure you read reviews online.

It’s also worth remembering that value is not just cost effectiveness; you are paying for confidence in who you will work with. Find a company who supports your vision for your dream home and matches your passion!

What happens when you press the green light?

When you’ve agreed a fixed quote with your timber frame supplier and negotiated the specification, the design will be frozen and you’ll be ready to go.

They will start work on building regulation drawings if these are still outstanding, and you typically wait between 4-6 weeks for them.

Don’t get started on site and never start digging foundations until you have the soleplate or setting out drawings. Once these are approved, the supplier will first run up prelim drawings, followed by manufacturing drawings while the foundations are constructed.

In terms of timing, the turnaround from order placement to delivery is, on average, 10-12 weeks.

For more information about timber frame and your project, get in touch with us here.