Frequently Asked Questions


  • Why chose a timber frame over a conventional build?
    Why choose an iPhone over a $50 phone that essentially does the same job?!  A timber frame or some timber features in a new home will add character, warmth and beauty in a way no other product can.  A bespoke, hand-crafted timber frame will provide the canvas for a new home to take shape and we take great pride in creating pieces of joinery that our clients will gaze at and take great joy from for decades to come. If you do have to move on, the frame will add far more value to the selling price than it did to the cost. The frame can be designed to be structural, therefore reducing the need for internal walls which is perfect for the modern desire for open-plan living.  The shape of the frame also allows for dramatic vaulted ceilings which add light and space to rooms.  All timbers are from renewable sources and are of course highly sustainable so there are environmental benefits from building with wood too. We believe that you should spend as much as you can of your budget on things that can’t easily be upgraded later such as the structure and insulation. A flashier kitchen or bathroom can be added at any time.
  • What is Timber engineering?
    Any building element that is not covered by the Standard NZ building code (NZ 3604) has to be approved by a Chartered Engineer and covered by a Producer Statement (PS1). Our quotation will cover the cost and management of this process and is therefore not onerous to the client. Our pre-designed frames already have approval and therefore can be quoted early on with confidence. We often work with a clients existing Engineer if one is already engaged for other aspects of the build.
  • Can you recommend an Architect?
    Yes. We have a number of friendly architects and designer draughtsmen who we have worked with in the past and who understand the process of building with exposed structural timber frames. We do however often enjoy working with new designers who maybe local to the build or brought to us by the customer.
  • How much does a Timberworks frame cost?
    Each Timberworks post and beam frame is unique so this is a difficult one to answer.  We have, however, for this reason developed a range of pre-designed frames (English, Mohawk and Montana) which give a ‘starting point’ for the design and allow a guide price to be suggested.  Exposed trusses installed on a studwork frame offer the most visual impact per dollar but a whole frame is even more rewarding. Typically a complete frame may add as much as 15% to your overall build cost whereas trusses may add 4% but this really does depend on how extensive our input is and in any case substantially adds to the finished value of the property.  We often build part frames for hybrid houses where the grander living spaces have exposed timber whereas the more utilitarian spaces are of more ordinary construction. For more information on our costs, please give us a call on 035403080.
  • Can you recommend a Builder?
    We have completed many projects around the country , so there is a chance that we have supplied a frame to your area. We can often recommend a builder who has worked with us before.
  • How long does it take to put up a frame?
    It does depend on the size of the project of course, but as most of the frame gets test-fitted in the workshop, it can be a very quick process on site. Small frames can often be completed in a day, larger, more complex frames may take 2-3 days. The raising cost will be included in your quote.  The raising is generally a time of celebration, not only for the client but our team also.  Seeing the drawings and pile of wood turned into majestic, beautiful features on a building section is a very rewarding aspect of the Timberworks journey.
  • Do you offer a full build service?
    Not any more.  We have completed a couple of full-builds in the past and are members of the Association of Certified Builders, New Zealand. There are plenty of excellent builders out there, however, so we’re happy to leave that side of each project to them so that we at Timberworks can focus on the part that we’re most passionate about and skilled at – the design and hand-crafting of your frame.
  • Do you treat the timber in any way?
    All timbers are treated with a coat of wood sealer for protection during shipping and handling.  This lasts for perhaps 2-3 months and is only really a temporary protection.  Macrocarpa contains a high level of natural tannins and is often left to ‘silver’ naturally when used externally.  It can also be left untreated internally and as time passes will become harder and harder as the timbers dry out, therefore protecting it from bumps and knocks.  Once installed, the client may chose to oil/stain the timbers in-situ and this is generally done at the decorating stage by local tradesmen.
  • Are the frames made by hand?
    Yes, everything we make is hand-crafted by skilled professionals in our workshop in Ruby Bay.  We use a variety of tools, from our on-site sawmill down to the most simple hand-chisel. We take great pride in producing each and every individual timber that goes into our designs which is why the raising is such an eagerly-awaited and rewarding aspect of our job – when the dream becomes a reality for our client and we see that all the hard work was worth it!
  • Can the silvering of the external timbers be avoided?
    The timbers we use will all turn a grey/silver colour over time when exposed to the elements if no treatment is applied.  Macrocarpa is one of the most naturally durable softwoods grown in New Zealand and as such does not require any treatment.  Where a richer, non-silvery look is desired, however, we can give advice on possible oil treatments to use.  In order to maintain the lustrous appearance, regular applications of oil will be required.  We do not recommend the use of varnish on external Timberworks frames.
  • Do you make garages and sheds?
    Basically, if it’s made of wood, we can make it for you.  We’ve made a variety of smaller structures over the years; gazebos, boat houses and sleep-outs.  An exposed timber-frame porch or entranceway can also be a cost-effective way of adding some interest to your existing or new-build home. 
  • Does a timber frame offer good value for money?
    How do you place a value on design, beauty and aesthetics?  Generally in life, you get what you pay for.  We aim to be competitive without compromise.  You can certainly build a house more cheaply if you didn’t choose to include some Timberworks elements but presumably, if you’re perusing our website, you’re looking for something more than an average house.  We believe that by including some Timberworks features in your new build, your house will not only be worth substantially more than if you hadn’t but it will reap you great rewards in terms of the joy it will bring you, living in a personally designed, hand-crafted space.  Our clients frequently comment on the great sense of pride they feel when people visit their home, the connection they feel with the building and how much enjoyment they get from not only the look but the touch and smell of the wood too.
  • Where do you work? Does it matter that we're in North Island and you're in Nelson?
    No, not at all.  We have completed projects from Leigh to Queenstown, Akaroa to Porirua.  The frames or trusses are hand-crafted in our extensive workshops in Ruby Bay, outside Nelson and then carefully packaged for transport to site.  Freight costs are surprisingly reasonable.  Depending on the size of the project, one or more of our team will then travel to site to direct and manage the raising.  For simpler jobs where there are perhaps just a couple of trusses being supplied, advice can be given to the on-site builder on how to install the trusses, saving on some costs.
  • What are the typical steps in a project involving Timberworks
    Ideally Timberworks will get involved in the early stages of design.  The client may already be aware of the type of work we do at Timberworks and contact us direct or the architect/designer might suggest our involvement.  We would then liaise with the client and architect or designer to come up with a concept design.  Once the design is finalised, a structural engineer will issue a PS1 then the plans can be submitted to council. Having received consent, we will order the timbers and have them delivered to our workshop to allow them up to 12 weeks to dry before producing the workshop drawings. Then the fun begins!  Next stage is the cutting, laying out and hand-crafting of each and every piece specified, anything from 6 pieces of timber in a king-post truss to over 200 pieces in a full frame.  Each piece will be test-fitted in our workshop, sanded and oiled before being packaged and transported to site.  Once there, the very same people who made the post and beam frame will lift it all into place, possibly with the help of a crane, make all the connections and ensure all is installed according to the plans. We then hand over to the builder to complete the build. When the house is complete, we like to return to site, possibly with a professional photographer to take some photos of the finished house.  It’s always good to see how the Timberworks element of the build fits in with completed home and is very rewarding for the team to see the end result.
  • Won't a Timberworks frame be rather old-fashioned?
    Timberframing methods have been used across the globe for centuries but this does not mean that the design of your house has to be traditional; far from it! Post and beam lends itself to a traditional, contemporary or ultra-modern interpretation. If curved braces, detailed pendants and additional connections are specified that’s fine; however, if sleek, sharp, angular lines are required with stainless steel fixings and plenty of glazing then we can also accommodate you.
  • What about cracks?
    Timber is a natural, organic material and as it dries, over several years, in its new surroundings, checks and shakes will appear.  The initial checks that open up often close again in time as the centre of the piece dries. These are natural cracks in the surface of the wood; checks are small and shakes are bigger, sometimes opening up quite a crevace, deep into the wood but without undermining its structural integrity. This splitting only adds to the character of the timbers and should not be cause for alarm.
  • Do you have a brochure?
    If you’re serious about engaging the team at Timberworks, probably the best way to get an understanding of how and what we do is to visit us in person. If this is impractical, you’ve had a good look at the website and would like some pretty pictures to stick up on your wall, download our brochure here Timberworks Brochure or give us a call and we’ll pop one in the post to you.
  • Where can we see examples of Timberworks craftsmanship?
    The majority of our projects are private residences and hence not readily viewed however we can show you many photos and would be delighted to show you any  projects in progress either on site or in our workshop. Alternatively, several Timberworks projects are open to the public for one reason or another so provide a perfect opportunity to see our work first hand. Please click on the following links for more information:
    • Award winning B&B, Hanmer (Bespoke frame); Mad Cow Manor;
    • Marlborough Sounds Holiday Home, Bay of Many Coves (King post trusses); The Noble Sailor;
    • Ti Kouka Eco Home, Nelson (Contemporary frame with curved beams); Holiday Nelson;
    • Vineyard and Accommodation on the Akaroa Peninsula (English barn); Valley Road Vineyard;
    • Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka (Bespoke cruck frame); Rippon;
    • Indoor swimming pool for private hire (Modern frame with exposed steel connections); Active Kidz Swimschool;
    • Hope Community Church (Tasman trusses); Hope Church;
    • Ruby Bay Vineyard and Accommodation (Hammer-beam trusses); Ruby Bay Vineyard