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Working With Timber Home Builders

There are a few things you can do to help your builder help you. And it starts with complete honesty and transparency in these areas.


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The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” has never been more apropos than when you’re building a custom house like a timber frame home. The people you choose for your team in this endeavor need to understand your vision, but you also need to respect what each person, from the general contractor to the plumber, brings to the table.   

In short, you are partners, and working together in an honest yet respectful manner will go a long way toward getting you into that home of your dreams. There are a few things you can do to help your builder help you. And it starts with complete honesty and transparency in the following areas:


Be Real About Budgets. 

Establish a solid budget and convey the true number to your builder. Without a solid understanding of the actual parameters of the project, he or she won’t be able to deliver to your expectations. Rest assured, reputable builders are not out to spend all your money; they do, however, need a detailed breakdown of how much of your budget you want to allocate for each area of the home. 


Manage Expectations. 

Construction is not a perfect process, and in the field, there will be bumps that impact progress. If you expect that everything will go flawlessly, you are setting up your builder for failure and yourself for frustration. A dose of realism will go a long way toward making the finished home everything you want it to be. 


Communicate Clearly.

Builders are not mind readers, and they certainly don’t want to second-guess what you mean. It’s vital you have a clear vision of the finished product and convey it to your builder. The better you express your vision, the better he or she will perform. Provide photos or illustrated examples. If there are certain finishing materials you prefer, supply product serial numbers. If you put the builder in the position of having to assume what you want, there’s bound to be miscommunication. But remember: Part of a builder’s job is to manage your vision against your budget, so if he or she offers frugal alternatives, consider them. And if you are building this home with a spouse or significant other, assign one and only one of you to be the point of contact with your builder to eliminate any confusion.


Be Present. 

A builder worth his salt wants your input, so make yourself available. Visit the site, ask questions and work with him to manage the schedule. When your builder asks you to make decisions, don’t procrastinate. He will work at your pace, so if you want to keep the process moving along, be responsive. 


Have Respect. 

Your builder wants to do a great job for you. It’s easy to point out problem areas or come down on him if your schedule veers off course; but don’t forget to praise him if he completes a phase early, solves a tough problem or finds unexpected cost savings. A periodic morale booster when things go right will encourage the entire team to perform at their absolute best.



For all the involvement you should have in the construction of your timber home, never lose sight of the fact that your builder is the true expert. Let the most important partner on the project do the job you hired him to do. If you don’t, you could introduce mistakes that could result in avoidable delays or, worse, cost you thousands of dollars to fix.


See Also: Draft Your Dream Team

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