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Zirnhelt Timber Frames

Building Healthy Homes for Sustainable Living


Our goal is to provide a unique and affordable alternative to log and conventional frame buildings and to keep our hand-crafted timber frames competitive with those produced by larger machine-cut timber frame operations. 

Many of our clients finish our frames at a comparable cost to conventional frame buildings however, Zirnhelt Timber Frame buildings are designed to hold their value longer. This means you can pass this investment on to your children and they in turn to their children as part of your legacy. If re-sale value is a consideration, a Zirnhelt Timber Frame building can also be an excellent investment due to its growing appeal in the marketplace.

Many of our frames cost $30 to $50 per square foot of living space.  On the higher end of this range, packages usually include the wall system (e.g. solid wood infill panels). Frame prices vary with complexity and size.  Our design process helps you build to suit your budget.  With classic shapes, simple roof lines and efficient space utilization we can provide exceptional value and affordability.

What are the key considerations and design options that affect the overall cost of a building? 

  • Size
  • Complexity of overall shape (this cost factor will transfer right through from the foundation to the roof)
  • Multi vs. single level
  • Type of dormers - shed dormers provide the most cost-effective space if a loft or full upstairs is selected.  Gable dormers are more expensive, but many people like this look.
  • Complexity of timber joinery and custom features (link to custom features gallery)
  • Area of the building with vaulted ceilings
  • Area and shape of covered porches
  • Type of rafters (e.g. beam rafters vs. standard 2” dimensional lumber or trusses)
  • Wall construction – options include, solid timber infill walls, 2x6 frame infill, square log dovetail, hybrid options, out fill (e.g. SIPs, 2x6, custom framing) more – link to wall construction details
  • Heating systems (e.g. geothermal, solar, wood, electric or gas) more (link to sustainable building centre heating discussion)
  • Electrical system (e.g. wiring for alarms, sound systems etc.)
  • Type and amount of insulation in the roof and walls (e.g. mineral wool, cellulose, solid foam panels, SIPs, green roof, spray foam etc.)
  • Foundation system (e.g. standard concrete forms, insulated concrete forms (ICF’s), hempcrete or rammed earth)
  • Other finishing preferences (e.g. flooring, kitchens, doors & windows)


What is normally included in the “frame” or “shell” price?
(NOTE: “frame” refers to a timber frame; “shell” includes the walls and is usually used to describe a log building or timber frame with walls)

  • Timber walls (if using a timber system)
  • Timber frame (posts, headers, sills, tie beams – learn more about the terminology * link to terminology in sustainable building centre)
  • Roof system (ridge beam/plate, knee braces, headers/plates)
  • Set-up costs (this varies with site location and is therefore worked out separately for each building).


What isn’t included in a “frame” or “shell” price?

  • Our estimates, quotes and contracts, will list what is and is not included on your estimate to ensure there are no surprises.
  • Design & engineering - These costs are generally separate from the shell cost since there is high variability in how each customer approaches their design.
  • Sub floor - In order to compare "apples to apples" with other log or timber frame prices, Zirnhelt Timber Frames shell price does not include the subfloor.  Timber frames and log shells are normally delivered and erected after the foundation and floor has been installed.
  • Roof - Rafters are not usually included in “shell” quotes for log buildings but are usually included in our timber frame package (unless conventional rafters or a truss system are used).
  • Framed walls and siding – Pre-fabricated framed walls may be included in our package but are generally not included as part of the timber frame quote.


What components will Zirnhelt Timber Frames provide beyond a frame or shell?

When shipping timber frame packages, it is often convenient and cost-effective for our clients if we include components to our shipment such as:

  • Pre-fabricated framed walls
  • Roof decking (tongue and groove)
  • Siding
  • Chink & stain
  • Steel roofing
  • Insulation
  • Doors & windows

For local houses (in Williams Lake and surrounding area) we offer complete construction services from foundations to custom kitchens.  The finishing process provides many opportunities to incorporate green building products.   Send us an email or give us a call for more information.  We look forward to hearing from you.


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