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#33388 - 02/02/16 07:07 AM Design Process Question from a Client
steve2 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
Hello,

I am an owner-builder who came to timber framing about 10 years ago. During that time, I have read a lot of books, attended workshops, done lots of internet research (I chuckled when I wrote this), laid out and cut a few joints, attended and participated in a few raisings, stood at the end of a sawmill and honed my eye to spot interesting barns and structures out in the world. Recently (6 months ago), I have finally put pen to paper (figuratively, of course) and taught myself to use Sketchup. A couple weeks ago, I saw this thread which was a great discussion about how a Timber Framer guides a client along through the process. Instead of hijacking that post out of respect for the original poster, I thought I would start my own and ask a few questions along the way.

For a bit more background, I own a small lot and hope to raise a small frame on it someday in the near future. I have designed a 4 bent salt box barn house (24' x 32') with plates and common rafters (enclosed by SIPs). Since we all know how complexity adds to the cost of a project, I have really tried to balance the simplicity of the design with creating something that is practical and comfortable for living. From the architectural canon, I used "A Pattern Language" to organize and guide my floor plan. As I arrive at a point where I want to start engaging a timber framer, I find that sometimes folks want to sign me up for more design work than I can afford or that I need. Although, I haven't built a house before, I am an engineer by trade and understand the level of complexity and coordination required to complete a project successfully. From a design standpoint, I have done a fair bit of due diligence to "mind the sheet size," avoid odd roof pitches, allow the bays to define the rooms, sized (load calcs) the tie beams, floor joists, rafters and even isolated my plumbing in a single service cavity to simplify the mechanical (with one AAV for the kitchen sink). Along the way, I consider my research and design to be a bit of the sweat equity I have put into the project. Essentially, I need some help alleviating my concern that I enter into an agreement with a pro who wants to unravel my design and bill me for it. I always feel compelled when I speak with a pro, to introduce myself with an 8 minute elevator pitch citing Traditional American Historic Joinery so they get a feel for my level of knowledge, albeit limited.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly want to leverage the expertise of whomever I hire and I want the project to be successful (it IS going to be my home). I guess I just want to avoid paying someone a lot of money for redrawing lines I have already drawn or drawing something that pushes me out of my budget.

To reiterate, I am hoping to learn how to best engage a prospective pro in such a way that I feel comfortable with entering into a design phase. There seem to be more pros here who have built homes (and I definitely understand the increased complexity with mechanicals and consideration required of a home versus an outbuilding). I also know that I have a lot to learn. Just hoping to avoid expensive mistakes as I enter the project.

Hopefully, I don't sound too paranoid about it. I just want to have a positive experience. Also, if anyone has any other questions, fire away. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who cuts joints for a living.

Thanks in advance.

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#33389 - 02/02/16 09:53 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Hylandwoodcraft Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 141
Loc: Western NY
Hi Steve,
It sounds, first off, that you have a pretty clear vision of what you would like to accomplish in your house design, and have done due diligence on making it workable. I'm glad to see that you have been reading Christopher Alexander, by the way, there is great wisdom there!
From a pro's perspective, if I was approached by someone in this position, my main concerns would be on verifying the engineering and offering and modifications that might improve efficiency or function.
To address the first, have you considered sending your plan out to be engineered by an independent 3rd party? You could send it to Fire Tower Engineered Timber or someone like that and have them verify your calcs. I don't think on a small simple design like what you are talking about it would cost more than a few hundred dollars. Joinery is always a personal choice for each timber framer, but should be able to conform to certain engineering guidelines (ie. these tie beam should bear X amount onto the posts, etc.) without cramping their personal style.
To address the second, you sound like you are pretty comfortable with the house you have designed. It might not hurt to pay someone, be it an architect or builder to consult for an hour or so, look at the plan you have so far and let you know if there are any potential problems that you may have missed.
At the end of that, if you are willing to take responsibility for your design, you can approach timber framers to cut the frame you designed and had engineered. They will just have to apply their joinery conventions in accordance to the engineering. You can also approach architects to make a full set of construction drawings based on your design, which should not be too expensive if what you have is basically sound. Accept and consider all input along the way, but at the end of the day, YOU are the one who will be living in this house, not the architect or builder, so if their advice runs counter to your guiding principles don't be afraid to question it and reject it if necessary.
If you chose this route, you will also have the satisfaction of living in house primarily designed by yourself, as well as saving some money.

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#33390 - 02/02/16 10:32 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
steve2 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
Thanks Hylandwoodcraft. I appreciate your thoughts. I definitely will be having a 3rd party engineering firm stamp the plans. I chose to size the timbers and solve for shear, deflection, etc. as part of my design exercise/process so I could get a feel for how a pro's decisions about the posts/tie beams/floor height are informed. Good suggestion too about deferring to each timber framer's personal style on the joinery as well. As an example, along the way, I opted for plates and common rafters instead of purlins to reduce some joinery. These are great suggestions. It helps me frame how I can approach a seasoned pro and use the right language to discuss buildability and design. Thanks a ton!

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#33391 - 02/02/16 10:52 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
studio Offline
Member

Registered: 02/01/08
Posts: 18
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Hey Steve,

I understand your concern that you “enter into an agreement with a pro who wants to unravel my design and bill me for it”. The key will be to find someone you trust. If you are working with a good designer, they are there to help not just tear apart your design. However, they may have a lot to say about the design and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You need to find someone you are comfortable working with and you feel is adding value to your project. If there’s no trust you will have a difficult time accepting any of their advice and always feel like they are just trying to you’re your money. Are you building in an area that requires an architects stamp on the drawings? If so, that adds another level of complexity to the issue.

It sounds like you need to find someone that is willing to start by just provide consultation services in lieu of full design services, someone that will review and “redline” your design with any concerns or suggestions. It may be that once you get into the discussion you will decide that you need a little more help that initially expected. If not, you get their advice and move on. In the end, it is your house so the decision is always yours.
_________________________
Steve Tracy
Minneapolis Minnesota
www.bigrivertimberworks.com

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#33392 - 02/02/16 01:43 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
steve2 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
Thanks Steve. I think your suggestion about building trust is a good one. I also liked what you said in the other designer-perspective thread about telling "clients that a timber frame can be made to fit just about any plan, but it may be overly complicated and costly. Conversely, (one) can make a plan to fit a frame, but they may have to make compromises in the design in order for it to work with that timber frame. The best way is to integrate the 2 from the beginning of design." This sentiment has always resonated with me and is what has motivated me to learn as much as I can (about the constraints of timber framing, plumbing, heating systems, mechanical) before entering the "getting real" phase of my project. I certainly am going to be open to feedback (and am looking forward to it). But as you say, trust is key.


Edited by steve2 (02/02/16 01:47 PM)

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#33395 - 02/03/16 03:35 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jim Rogers Online   confused

Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 1605
Loc: Georgetown, MA, USA
So, what is your next question?

Jim Rogers
_________________________
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!

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#33397 - 02/04/16 07:18 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
steve2 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
Based on these recommedations, here are a couple more questions:

1. If I have a fairly detailed Sketchup model of the frame, can I approach a pro and ask for an RFP (as was described in the designer thread) to get a general sense of what the frame might cost?

2. Will a Timber Framer want to redraw my design in their own program as part of the design process?

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#33400 - 02/04/16 09:08 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Roger Nair Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/99
Posts: 446
Loc: Bakerton, WV, USA
Question 1: You can ask, however every builder has a preferred manner of working, so you get what the individual is willing to give. I personally dislike ballparking costs (creates expectations that may not be accurate) and would rather give an estimate based on a well developed plans.

Question 2: Most tfers will to some degree want to produce shop drawings. Expect your plans to be marked up, expect revision and be willing to accommodate stated needs through the building process or you can release the reins a little and allow experience to have a voice. I fear that you may be setting up a situation that devolves into endless haggling.

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#33401 - 02/04/16 10:01 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Hi Steve,

As with Sean's comments/advice...I think you are thinking through this brilliantly. Being and engineer yourself and still willing/wanting to have a PE still stamp your frame speaks volumes to your level of dedication to detail.

It also appears you have done a great deal of reading and research. As a teacher and Timberwright I am keen to point out to most folks without a background in design, art or architecture, that they may "think" they can design...but often can't. With that said, you have followed the "wise path" of actually following the "vernacular." I personally take little credit for my work as it is usually a "team effort" and so deeply vernacular in nature as to be hubris to believe I did to much than "replicated" and make a few adjustments. You have chosen a "salt box" and that is as vernacular (and beautifully simplistic) as they come...Hard to go wrong there or fault.

Quote:
1. If I have a fairly detailed Sketchup model of the frame, can I approach a pro and ask for an RFP (as was described in the designer thread) to get a general sense of what the frame might cost?


Yes...

Anyone actually doing this for any length of time at all will have no issue giving you a fixed price for your frame in a metric of square metre (or feet), or board foot. Both standards for a very long time...

You can expect to pay no less than $25/ft2 and should not see anything higher than $50/ft2 depending on region, wood species and Timberwright's experience.

Quote:
2. Will a Timber Framer want to redraw my design in their own program as part of the design process?


Most (all???) shops today of any note are more than comfortable with Sketchup...that really should not be an issue at all. Small adjustments here and there, but with such a design as you have described, I would not normally anticipate much of an issue at all...

Good luck and keep us up to speed with your thought process and progress...I (we?) learn as much from these exchanges as you do..


Edited by Jay White Cloud (02/04/16 10:04 PM)
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#33406 - 02/05/16 07:32 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
I can't see pricing a frame by the square foot of the building or board foot of timber, both being very different things. All my work is priced on the individual frame, they are all different. The base of my caculation is the joinery. Other consideration are bent spacing and how complicated the joinery decisions will be. Will you be lodging joist and purlins or using pockets? Compound joinery or not? What is the finish of the timbers expectation, planed, sanded, oil, raw with no finish at all, dirt included. Bent spacing on a building can double the price alone, with no other factors.

How do you consider all these factor when using a square foot number?

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#33408 - 02/05/16 09:04 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: TIMBEAL]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Hi Tim,

I'll do my best on this...and perhaps it will make more sense to you after reading this post...If not let me know, as I am always trying to better define this for folks...client and Timberwrights alike...Thanks for you input in advance... smile

Quote:
I can't see pricing a frame by the square foot of the building or board foot of timber, both being very different things.


Remember...this is for the "client" as a metric of understanding. How we arrive there is based on many specific elements...most importantly perhaps...experience cutting many different kinds of frames, in many modalities and across many markets, as well as, examining different markets and metrics of pricing...

Quote:
All my work is priced on the individual frame, they are all different.


Agreed...They are all different...and have countless variations. This does not change commonalities or abilities to dial in pricing. As complicated as a timber frames (or sky scrapers) can be...it isn't as complicated as say "plastic surgery" or other disciplines...these all carry (and have) set averages into "pricing metrics."

Again (this is not aimed and anyone individual...I do want to stress that) this is what separates "experience professionals" from those with limited exposure and/or time performing an activity in a range of markets and disciplines.

Quote:
The base of my calculation is the joinery. Other consideration are bent spacing and how complicated the joinery decisions will be.


EXCELLENT...!!!...As it has been for a very long time (millenia??)

This is (for many of the woodworking arts) the primary focus for arriving and a pricing metric..The joint cut!!

I have observed a number of both historic and contemporaneity examples of this both here and overseas. There seems to be an average of between 5 and 10 levels of complexity for each joint type (which is made of usually 2 executions.) For example a simple 90 degree cut on the end of an exposed rafter tail would be a "level one" execution and have a price to go with it. A 4 way intersection in some of the more complicated Asian joinery, or Valley rafter mortise and tenon joint would be a "level 10" and have a higher $$$ amount assigned to it.

From here we can extrapolate either a "board foot" or "square foot or metre" pricing modality. Both of which has significant historic examples of being applied to profession like traditional house, timber, wood, and ship Wrights of all fashion and in many different cultures...With the "Shipwright" also employing the "volume of the ship" as an indicator of cost to their clients...

Quote:
Will you be lodging joist and purlins or using pockets? Compound joinery or not? What is the finish of the timbers expectation, planed, sanded, oil, raw with no finish at all, dirt included. Bent spacing on a building can double the price alone, with no other factors.


Some of these are "add on" costs...

For example, planning/sanding and Oiling/Staining typically has a linear foot cost preside finished. This currently ranges (US/Canada) between $1.75 to $6.00 depending on treatment, and/or materials applied.

Bent spacing can indeed affect price...Yet that does not negate "averages" or the application of a "metric" if a craft (aka "skill set application") of any type is well understood by the practicing artisan or professional.

Quote:
How do you consider all these factor when using a square foot number?


Work backwards from the "know elements." Wood species, complexity of joint, material cost (if included), tooling, etc.

I stress again, whenever this debate tends to come up, it is often with folks with 15 years of experience or less. That isn't a "bad thing" or a criticism of any kind...just and observation. I would share, in days of old, typically a "Master Apprentice" would still be working with and under a "Master-Wright" at the 15 year mark in their career. They typically would not leave a "guild shop" or their relationship with a group of Master Craft people (I am speaking across many art/craft forms from timber framing to Blacksmiths) until the 30 year or more mark...Some never leave and only take over after the Master Wright has passed. I have met "apprentice" in Japan that are in their 40's and some even older...

Today we have lost much in these "student/teacher" relationships that span generations within many arts and crafts. The deeper knowledge these "teaching systems" had provided in the past are vastly different in the modern economic models today...with that much happening today...a great deal of complexity and skill sets are lost (or not taught) before a "timber framer" is expected (or chooses) to then go out and market and sell their product.

Regards,

j
_________________________
http://about.me/tosatomo

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#33413 - 02/05/16 10:20 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
I have never worked in an "apprentice" system, btw.

I still see no way a frame could be priced on square footage. Adding the cost of the frame to the whole package can be equated to square footage, lets not put the cart before the horse. figure the whole project then put a square foot price to it.

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#33415 - 02/06/16 07:44 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: TIMBEAL]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Quote:
I still see no way a frame could be priced on square footage.


I can respect that, and nothing wrong with not understanding something yet...

It doesn't change the fact that it can and was done historically in several of the modalities I have shared From House Wright to Barn Wright and beyond. Volume and area pricing metrics (or other "by the job") methods of relay "cost" to a potential consumer is nothing new and a standard practice among many.

Quote:
Adding the cost of the frame to the whole package can be equated to square footage, lets not put the cart before the horse. figure the whole project then put a square foot price to it.


No carts before any horses here... wink

but there is a error in definitional understanding in this dialogue of trying to compare "apples to oranges," I do believe. That could be what is confusing?

When a potential client asks me about "how much do you think my...timber frame....will cost?"...(That is an apple) I can, with just basic information, give them a "ball park" price on average for others, and an "exact one" for what myself and colleagues would cut it for...

The second half of the above comment..."figure the whole project"...in the architectural world is called your "turn key" price and that is another metric entirely!! (That is an orange) Its metric for domestic architecture start at (averages again) $90/ft2 for "prefab homes" and rises to over $450/ft2 for custom built homes and is not as simple a number to arrive at without a bit more information from the consumer seeking such assistance...
Quote:

I have never worked in an "apprentice" system, btw.


That is a common theme today...and why there is many "holes" in the overall knowledge base of many of our guild crafts in general. Many have had to "teach themselves" at least 50% or more of what they know about a craft...In this case timber framing...

We haven't been afforded the opportunity of learning directly from a collective "deep well" of knowledge holders, or supported such practices once "big industry" stepped in to control the details...I should add thought the TFG has done (and is doing) a remarkable job of trying to coalesce this type of knowledge for timber framing as reflected in a venue like this forum as just one example...


Edited by Jay White Cloud (02/06/16 07:50 AM)
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#33416 - 02/06/16 08:33 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
Jay, Your work takes you on a different path than mine and perhaps others. Our different paths head in a general direction or have a similar view, but they are different. These differences don't make one wrong or better, they are simply different. By all means you and the folks you work for have their system of pricing, I'm sure it is on a level of work I don't perform in.

This is how I see a square foot price coming into the equation.

" The second half of the above comment..."figure the whole project"...in the architectural world is called your "turn key" price and that is another metric entirely!! (That is an orange) Its metric for domestic architecture start at (averages again) $90/ft2 for "prefab homes" and rises to over $450/ft2 for custom built homes and is not as simple a number to arrive at without a bit more information from the consumer seeking such assistance..."

I would listen if you could explain how you price a frame alone and equate it into square foot pricing. And why you would do that? I have no problem learning new trick.

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#33419 - 02/06/16 02:06 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Mike Shenton Offline
Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Fleetwood, NC
I routinely price my frames by the sq. ft. and don't see why it's a hard thing to do. You can only cram so many timbers in a given space. I would have no problem quoting his 24x32 saltbox using planed white pine at about $17,000.00 assuming there is a loft.
I'm not trying to get the job since my schedule is already full for the year, just trying to make the point.

www.mktimberworks.com


Edited by Mike Shenton (02/06/16 02:06 PM)
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Michael Shenton

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#33428 - 02/07/16 08:29 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
If you are listing frames pre designed, pricing by the square foot is logical. To design a fresh frame by sitting down and first running the square foot number, well, I'm still not sure how that process works. The first thing is determining the construct of the frame, square foot pricing of the building is derived from and based on the design of the frame.

You can cram a lot of timber into a 768 square foot footprint. I had one design company suggest 4' spacing of bents, once. Or you could have 3 bents. So, 9 bents compared to 3, no difference there.

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#33429 - 02/07/16 04:50 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: TIMBEAL]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Hi Mike,

Thanks for adding your voice to this conversation...

I came between $16128 (if I brokered it out to one of my younger Timberwright acquaintances) to $34560 (if I laid it out and cut it) for the salt box in question within the first 3 minutes of reading about it...Good to see you landed in the exact same area for your assessment for its costs. And yours would probably be a better deal as mine might not include wood?

I agree, if you do this day in and day out like we seem to, we agree (custom or stock item timber frame) if you have been doing this a while it isn't difficult at all to give a potential client a really accurate prices for just a frame. With just a little more info you can provide them the transport and raising fees as well. Clients love speed, set fee pricing, and the knowledge base to succinctly delve deeper into this topic with them without too much hemming and hawing or reluctance to share the information...even if some of it is validated as "averages." To be able to do this "off the top or your head" is even more valuable in instilling confidence in a client...Assuming one can do that accurately...

(P.S. Mike...expect an email soon from me on some frame related item questions, your current timeline of projects, and related... I may need your assistance and thoughts on some stuff...Thanks...)

>>>>>

Quote:
Jay, Your work takes you on a different path than mine and perhaps others. Our different paths head in a general direction or have a similar view, but they are different.


Hi Tim,

It would be foolish of me to say for certain on whether our paths are very different. However, I suspect they aren't really at all that much different, but perhaps working in a broader field of Guild art trades and in a global format has equipped me with perhaps a broader perspective?? You do something on and off for over 35 years and you get a deeper understanding of it...

Quote:
By all means you and the folks you work for have their system of pricing, I'm sure it is on a level of work I don't perform in.


Again, that may well be true, but I suspect it isn't?

I have consulted on Cruck Frames in the U.K., to delving into items with Ed L. (who I miss terribly) on the Christ Church project in New Zealand, his work on the Synagogue in Poland, and all the way down to DIYer project restoring and/or building Bousillage traditional Creole timber frames...and the gambet in between...With that, and the diversity it reflects from huge projects in the commercial range (as I am on now) to small "pizza pavilions" in the Asian style for an elementary school...I would doubt that there is too much I might not have at least studied that would or could have merit in the methods you perform.

Quote:
I would listen if you could explain how you price a frame alone and equate it into square foot pricing. And why you would do that? I have no problem learning new trick.


Tim... smile ...New tricks is what I too am here to learn all the time!! grin ..and share what "tricks" I known and understand with fellow Timberwrights and potential consumers of our frames and other craft...

The basic methods for square foot pricing are well outlined in this conversation thus far...If you ever wish to "dig deeper" into it, by all means send me an email or give me a call. My online business card lists all my contact info at the bottom of each post...I would love to hear from you and chat about this topic to any depth or detail you wish to...

Quote:
If you are listing frames pre designed, pricing by the square foot is logical. To design a fresh frame by sitting down and first running the square foot number, well, I'm still not sure how that process works.


Part of this ability, no doubt, is a great deal of experience on many different types of frames and in many different disciplines. These prices do not very often include the timber as that commodity does fluctuate a great deal, especially for high end custom or complex traditional frames like Bousillage, Minka, Kubbhus, Kath Kuni or other vernacular style...

If a "pre designed" boiler plate frame, then wood/timber can often be included with little issue.

Quote:
The first thing is determining the construct of the frame, square foot pricing of the building is derived from and based on the design of the frame.


I wouldn't really disagree with the above comment one bit...

You can have a "metric" of volume or area be very different from one frame style to the next...Most definitely...A Dutch design or a "Tidewater Cape" Saltbox could have many more joints than an average "colonial salt box." Nevertheless that does not change the ability of someone with the correct knowledge base (and a calculator in my case) in providing a price that is at least 70% to 80% accurate within just a few moment of punching in numbers so a potential client of such a project could understand their potential project better...

Regards to all,

j
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http://about.me/tosatomo

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#33430 - 02/07/16 07:21 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
After reading through your post, Jay, it brings things a little more in view. Pricing out a frame project without the timber figured into it and then hitting the price at 70-80% accuracy within 3 minutes is not a price quote but an estimate. You are estimating or giving an educated guess to a price, it puts you in the ballpark. Now, to quote a price is different than an estimate. I have picked up the term "quote" and use it. When I put out a price quote it is the final number it includes, delivery and raising of my product and the timber. In twenty+ years I have had only one small frame leave my shop that I didn't put up.

So we can be on the same page, often people use a term with a different meaning than what another may use.

Here you will see estimate as an approximate judgement.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/estimate

And here you can find a quote as being.... to state (a price).
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/quote

I believe the OP is looking for a price quote.

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#33433 - 02/07/16 07:59 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: TIMBEAL]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Hi Tim,

Quote:
Pricing out a frame project without the timber figured into it and then hitting the price at 70-80% accuracy within 3 minutes is not a price quote but an estimate.


Yep, I would agree with that...no doubt. My figure is an "estimate" as you have kindly provided the definition links for...

Quote:
Now, to quote a price is different than an estimate.


Agree again we do... grin

Quote:
I have picked up the term "quote" and use it. When I put out a price quote it is the final number it includes, delivery and raising of my product and the timber. In twenty+ years I have had only one small frame leave my shop that I didn't put up.


Excellent!!

I think it is very important (and helpful...thanks Tim) that folks not confuse an estimate from a quote, and where these can and should lead for a potential customer...

Quote:
So we can be on the same page, often people use a term with a different meaning than what another may use.


Yes, they do indeed, and it is often the poor consumer that gets terribly confused by it all if these things are not clarified "up front!!"

I would only add that when an experienced Timberwright is going through the "estimation" process with a consumer...the final quote numbers are little different from the estimates themselves for each item, which is a clear indicator the Craftsperson offering them knows what they are doing...

Cheers,

j


Edited by Jay White Cloud (02/07/16 08:00 PM)
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#33435 - 02/07/16 09:49 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Mike Shenton Offline
Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Fleetwood, NC
I should add that most of the frames I quote are simple rectangles. I also attach a picture or state "4 bents 3 bays" etc. If I was just quoting predrawn frames there would be no mystery. My quote included the timbers, I never just quote the labor for cutting the frame.
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Michael Shenton

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#33436 - 02/07/16 10:34 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jay White Cloud Offline
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Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Indeed Mike, I knew yours was more the true "quote" than my offered estimate...

I was still glad to be close to it in range...Much Thanks and will be in touch soon..

j
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#33460 - 02/12/16 06:35 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
steve2 Offline
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Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
Hey guys,

I just wanted to follow up... I've been slammed at work and haven't had any time to respond to all the helpful suggestions. I plan on responding this weekend to keep this great thread going.

More later.

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#33489 - 02/14/16 08:57 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
steve2 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/16
Posts: 9
I really appreciate hearing everyone's thoughts on the distinction between a quote and an estimate. I think I am seeking an estimate and the conundrum I am facing is that the Timberwright wants to start the design process and I am still trying to figure out the "trust" part of what was described earlier. I am trying to nail down all the aforementioned factors (species, finish of timbers, spans, and bent design) while leaving the joinery decisions for the most part, to the Timber Framer. I have tried to design the frame such that the floor plan is simple and flows from the bents. Are there other details that I could resolve that could help me at least get a quote?

It's also nice to know that Sketchup is fairly ubiquitious as a format and are useable during the process.

Thanks.

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#33496 - 02/15/16 01:09 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Hylandwoodcraft Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 141
Loc: Western NY
Sketch up is also versatile in that it can be "eaten" by architectural programs like Revit. It's nice when the architect can drop your frame right into their plan, instantly revealing conflicts with window placement etc.

Can't the framer look at what you have and give you an estimate? I really don't see why that should be a problem to get within a close margin quickly. Is the framer trying to rope you in for paid design work without giving any idea on cost?

Most factors like species and finish are a fairly small consideration, assuming you are not considering anything exotic.
For example, on a frame like you have described, the difference in material price between Pine and Oak would probably only run about $1000. I would also add some for extra labor, due to weight etc. But really it is a small change in the overall percentage. The bulk of the cost is always going to be the joinery, which in a simple layout like what you described is going to be pretty evident.

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#33504 - 02/15/16 05:57 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: steve2
...the conundrum I am facing is that the Timberwright wants to start the design process and I am still trying to figure out the "trust" part of what was described earlier...


If this is the actual conundrum you feel you are facing, I would openly share that with the current Timberwright and explain your position...

If the current Timberwright wishes to "design something" without a contract or the rest of the plan and understanding between you both, that will be a learning experience for him...

Originally Posted By: steve2
...I am trying to nail down all the aforementioned factors (species, finish of timbers, spans, and bent design) while leaving the joinery decisions for the most part, to the Timber Framer...


If you are taking on the liability and responsibility for the frames structural capacity, then leaving the "joinery decisions" up to an experience Timberwright is an option. I think I have a good handle on this craft of timber framing, and I still would guide my client and their project towards having a PE sign off on the design. Sharing the burden of "liability" and "good engineering" with a licensed, and insured PE that has timber frame knowledge is well worth the $500 to $2500 it costs on average...

If cutting a frame for oneself, then perhaps this may not be a necessity, yet I know I won't do this without the "peer review" of having my work examined by others...including a PE whenever possible.

Originally Posted By: steve2
I have tried to design the frame such that the floor plan is simple and flows from the bents. Are there other details that I could resolve that could help me at least get a quote?


If your current Timberwright is not willing to give you a solid "estimate" (low to high) at this stage, then I would continue to looking for a Timberwright that can...This is an indication of competency.

I may not have suggested this yet, but I now I tell all my potential clients that I want them to be 100% confident in my relationship with them...That starts by me strongly encouraging them to get at least three quotes from equally skilled Timberwrights.

As for an estimate, you do need a "solid design" that will not change.

This has to come from you, or and experience designer. It the "Designer" is also the Timberwright, they should be able to give you a price for these services and either include them in the final price, or give you a price outright for their design services...
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#33505 - 02/15/16 06:50 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: Hylandwoodcraft]
Mike Shenton Offline
Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Fleetwood, NC


Most factors like species and finish are a fairly small consideration, assuming you are not considering anything exotic.
For example, on a frame like you have described, the difference in material price between Pine and Oak would probably only run about $1000. I would also add some for extra labor, due to weight etc. But really it is a small change in the overall percentage. The bulk of the cost is always going to be the joinery, which in a simple layout like what you described is going to be pretty evident. [/quote]


What kind of price are you guys paying for pine up there? Pine is 1/2 the price of Douglas Fir here and although I haven't priced oak lately I'll bet it's twice what pine is here. If I priced his frame in Douglas Fir compared to what I quoted in pine the quote for Douglas Fir would be about $7000 more.
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Michael Shenton

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#33518 - 02/16/16 09:09 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: Mike Shenton]
Hylandwoodcraft Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 141
Loc: Western NY
Pine usually runs $0.60-$1.00 a Bd. ft. depending on length/grade. Oak would be $0.70-$1.25. I personally use locally available timber, and I would consider something that had to trucked in like Doug Fir to be on the exotic end.
I apologize if my statement was a bit general. Of course everyone has different material costs depending on region. I think my general premise is still valid though. It should be pretty easy to say that a given frame will run about $X.

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#33520 - 02/16/16 11:28 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
I agree completely with Sean on this one, and see no reason you can not get a solid estimate during negotiations with a select group of bidding Timberwrights. Then a solid quote and pricing for the contract.

I also agree with Sean, et al, that anything, wood or otherwise, that does not come from within a reasonable distance of the project site (whenever possible...like wood timbers) should be looked at as exotic and "unsustainable material." Shipping materials is inevitable but should be restricted as much as possible. Local wood is also much more supporting of local economies, and stimulates sustainable forestry management operations. Our lumber cost, range in the same area, price wise, as what was just reflected, sometimes less, as currently Hemlock is only $0.45/BF and pine in large orders is $0.85, with Oak being $1 to $1.5.
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#33522 - 02/16/16 12:31 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Mike Shenton Offline
Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Fleetwood, NC
I agree also about using local wood. I really hate hearing the companies close to me tout building green but they all mostly use Douglas Fir. They look down their noses at white pine. I am starting my first job using df because that is what my client wants.
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Michael Shenton

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#33523 - 02/16/16 12:50 PM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 479
Loc: Vermont
I understand that one completely Mike...

That is the only time I will use a "non-indigenous" species like DF to an area it does not grow naturally, or if there is a specific structural mandate from a PE or other mitigating circumstance. We have all been there.

I also agree, and become more outrage with every job I have to bid, when some "new company" is bragging about how "GREEN" they are!!! Yet, when I actually go through the proposed materials lists they are any but "green"...more like "green washed." I simply will not allow myself or the potential client to be duped by such practices...If it cost me the job and at least I have done my due diligence in educating the client about what "natural sustainable building is" compared to the many "green washed" practices of many firms...
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#33652 - 04/13/16 11:00 AM Re: Design Process Question from a Client [Re: steve2]
Hylandwoodcraft Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 141
Loc: Western NY
Steve,
How did things work out here? Were you able to make headway on your design. Hopefully all is going well!

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