Posted by: ncmountainmama | May 16, 2008

More Builders and Another Timberframe Company

(Written by gothedistance & ncmountainmama)

Since my last update, we have talked to two more potential builders and one more (and our last) timberframe company.

First, the timberframe company: On May 2 we drove about 3 hours from Raleigh to Christiansburg, VA to visit with Sandy Bennett at Blue Ridge Timberwrights. We decided to talk with Sandy because I liked what he had to say in an article he wrote in one of the Timberframe magazines. In addition, one of the builders we are talking with had been the general contractor on a house in Ashe County for which Blue Ridge Timberwrights had done the timberframe and SIPs.

Drew S. our designer had sent our plans to Sandy in advance. We talked to Sandy at his office for about 3 hours about the details of the plans. Sandy questioned some of the details of the timberframe braces, but generally liked the design.

Sandy then took us to see a house under construction that he had done the timberframe and SIP work on. Now, keep in mind this was in the mountains and the road up there was definitely one of those long, windy mountain roads. The timberframe work looked great to us. We left the plans with Sandy and asked him to give us a bid on the timberframe and SIP work.

Now that we have visited and talked with four different timberframe companies, we have seen enough to know that it would not be useful to talk with or visit any more companies. Really, once you have seen one woodshop they all look basically the same and once you have seen one installed frame, they all look basically the same to me. Although the best part about visiting the companies and their workshops is that you get to really examine the wood. The smell in the shop and the houses is really a great wood smell. It is also very exciting to see a frame and be able to visualize what ours will look like. It still is difficult to decide what type of wood we really want, they all look great. We are trying to decide between the white pine and the Douglas fir.

The final decision on the contractor and timberframe company boils down to price and personality. We will see…

Now to the builders:

Builder #3 is a local Ashe County builder, who we met in August 2007. He is a friend of friends of ours who built a house in Ashe County 5 years ago. He didn’t build their house, but they have seen his work and were impressed. In August he took us to see two conventional houses that he had built, however he hasn’t built a timberframe house before. He is hands-on builder without his own crew and builds one house at a time. We sent him a copy of our plans and are waiting for a bid.

Builder #4 is one of the major Ashe County builders. He generally has 3-4 houses under construction at any one time and supervises his subcontractors rather than doing any hands-on work. He has built several timberframe houses with SIPs. He also has a copy of our plans and we are waiting for a bid. However, we have heard that he is “very expensive”.

The funny thing about Builder #4 is that I met him at our property and we discussed the building plans for over an hour. He seemed to know a great deal about the other lots still for sale that adjoin our property. When I asked him how he knew so much about the area, he simply said because “you bought this property from me”. Turns out that he was one of the partners that owned our property, but we hadn’t met him because he wasn’t at the closing. Talking about feeling like an idiot!

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