Preparing to Raise a Timber Frame

Preparing for the big day — your frame raising — requires a little homework on your part.

Photo: New Energy Works Timberframers


It takes a village for your dream home to take shape, and it all begins with the frame raising. With its roots in 18th- and 19th-century American history, the raising, itself, can be an exciting event for family and friends, but the process can also be a mysterious one for homeowners. Here, we answer three common questions about raising a timber frame, as well as offer advice on making sure this vital part of the timber home process goes smoothly.


Q: What are the top things that my builder/general contractor needs to accomplish before my timber company can raise a frame?

A: The biggest concern your contractor needs to deal with is site accessibility. Make sure a flatbed trailer can access a level and clear drop site next to the foundation, and remember that a long rig needs a minimum turning radius of 45 degrees. If either of these conditions can’t be met, make sure an alternate drop-off point is nearby, and equipment is on-hand to off-load the materials.

Other important elements on your contractor’s checklist are the foundation and first-floor system. Try to have the foundation installed at least two weeks before the planned delivery. The basement’s support posts also need to be in place. Of course, all the work that will occur will require power, so make sure permanent or temporary power (possibly in the form of a gas generator) is located close to the foundation.

Last, he needs to ensure all the appropriate permits have been obtained. The timing for obtaining permits varies depending upon where you live, so be sure to check with the permitting agency in your jurisdiction.


See Also: 11 Tips to the Perfect Timber Home


Q: It’s delivery day — the truck with the timber frame package pulls up to my site. What happens next?

A: Depending on the home’s design and the terrain, make sure that either a crane or lull (an all-terrain telescoping forklift) is available for the duration of the raising. These machines also can be used to off-load the material as it arrives. The truck drivers usually allow two hours for off-loading and may charge extra for time spent beyond that.

Next, it’s important for your contractor to protect all the components. This is especially true for the frame. He should use 2-by-4s to space between the timbers for airflow. Exposure to any inclement weather could cause damage and delay the raising. Check the bill of lading or shipping manifest to ensure that everything listed has been delivered. Inspect for damage or shortage of materials and be sure to note any discrepancies.

From there, assume that a 2,500- square-foot home will take between three and five days to install the first-floor joist system and raise the frame. Installing the roof and wall SIPs will take longer, allowing for some variables such as installing tongue-and-groove roof decking. This time also is used for setting the exterior doors and windows into place.


Q: Should the frame be stained before or after it’s raised?

A: It’s optimal to do it at the same time that other paints, stains and finishes are applied in the house. In other words, you shouldn’t apply a stain before the frame raising. It’s more difficult to blend or repair a stain finish from the inevitable bumps and nicks that will occur during the raising.



As you move closer toward the construction phase, it’s helpful to understand what local code officials will expect of your builder. Typically, your building inspector will review your new home’s design before issuing a building permit, which is necessary to begin construction. During construction, inspectors will make on-site examinations to ensure your home follows its design. If there are discrepancies between the plan and what’s being constructed, the inspector has the authority to stop construction until the problem is corrected. It’s the inspector who, using building codes as references, will pronounce your home livable by issuing a certificate of occupancy.

 See Also: How to Find the Best Time to Build Your Timberframe