Project Planning Guide

Visit the other sections of the Product Planning Guide for detailed information on the process of building a timber frame and valuable tips to consider as you get going. 


Proud Member of the Timber Frame Business Council

The Timber Frame Business Council (TFBC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding demand for timber framing. The Council was formed in 1995 when members of the Timber Framers Guild wanted a way to connect with other professionals in the industry. Now, with over 15 years of work, the TFBC has grown to support a wide range of member companies, including timber frame builders, suppliers, and associate organizations, such as education and student groups. Learn more...


Proud Member of the Timber Framers Guild

Timber Framers Guild Mission
The Guild is a nonprofit organized exclusively for educational purposes, to provide training programs for timber framers, disseminate information about timber framing and timber frame building design, display the art of timber framing to the public, and serve as a general center of timber framing information for the professional and general public alike. Learn more...

Design & Style

Cabin Creek DesignUse this friendly brainstorming guide to help you start the process of home planning. We’ve gathered these ideas over the years while helping prospective homeowners build their dream homes, and we believe they can help you to focus your thinking and find out what is most important to you. Making some early decisions about priority will go a long way to helping you decide on the final design and style for your project.

What are your timber frame design needs?

As you get started imagining the type of home you want to build, it is important to make some decisions about what your family needs, both now and in the long run. You’ll want a functional floor plan that can be enjoyed for many years while supporting all of your activities. To help you narrow down what you need, Cabin Creek has put together a series of lists to help you engage with the planning process and answer the question, What are my design needs? This process can help you regardless of whether you plan to design the structure yourself or engage the help of an architect or designer. We’ve included a template list for each of the lists discussed below to help get you started. If you are a couple or a family, we recommend that you have each member of the family start with their own list and merge the lists together at the end. Take the time to work through the details.

Jump To a Section

“Got To Have It” List

Begin by putting together the building approval requirements for your project in a “Got to Have It” List. Include all of the requirements and restrictions needed to build for the code, covenant or development standards in your area. This is the best place to start because the items here are absolutely necessary, and they serve as the foundation for all of your brainstorming.

For example, this list could include requirements such as:

  • The minimum and maximum square footage allowed for your development
  • The maximum height allowed for your development
  • Septic system requirements
  • Set backs
  • Earth disturbance guidelines
  • Restrictions for placement based on landmarks, such as a creek or stream

View an example list below to help you get started.

Got To Have It - Example

Click here to view and print this form for your use.

Return to Section List

“The Way We Were” List

After you establish the basic requirements for your structure, start “The Way We Were” list and dig into your memories. Write down examples of places you have loved or enjoyed over the years, and don’t be shy about including things that you disliked about past living spaces. Remembering what you have disliked about past homes can prevent you from repeating mistakes. The goal is to help connect you with experiences that impacted you both positively and negatively over the years to help you draw inspiration.

View an example list below to help you get started.

The Way We Were - List

Click here to view and print this form for your use.

“Reach for the Sky” List

At this point, you are ready to do some thinking based purely on your wants, not your needs. Use the “Reach for the Sky” List to capture a note about all the features you would enjoy, regardless of whether they are practical or not. Taking the opportunity to record your thoughts means that you’ll be thinking about them and might be able to find ways to work them into your final design. For example, when the owners of Cabin Creek Timber Frames decided to build their own timber frame home, they had an enormous book collection. The architect understood that storing the books was important to the Bells and suggested lining a few loft walls with shelving for the books. Now in the completed structure, the book shelves serve as a feature to the room while also offering functional storage.

View an example list below to help you get started.

Reach For The Sky - List

Click here to view and print this form for your use.

“How Are We Doing Now?” List

The “How Are We Doing Now?” List is about taking stock of your current living situation and making thoughtful assessments about how you use your space. Go room by room and measure the space, then write comments about each room. Is it too big? Too small? Not used? It sounds like a simple thing to do, but it works. You’re giving yourself direction on exactly where to go from here based on your own needs.

View an example list below to help you get started.

How Are We Doing Now-List

Click here to view and print this form for your use.

What next?

With your lists in hand, you’re ready to start working on the design of your house. Use them as a guide if you work out your own design, or take them with you on conversations with your architect or designer to help express your needs.