Working Practice

Timber frames:  We are carpenters specialising in the design and build of green oak and Douglas Fir timber structures. We do everything related to the timber frame, from design to cutting and raising. However, we do not provide other elements of the build such as concrete or stone bases, roofing etc. You may need a project manager to co-ordinate your build, or to do this yourself.

Consultation: We offer a free consultation process. We start by meeting with you on site if this is possible, or at our workshop near Cercles, northern Dordogne. If you are not in France, we can do the consultation by email and telephone.

Quote: From your drawings or your architects’ plans we will calculate a quote, which includes the cost of the wood, the carpentry, transportation and raising. At this point, before we can progress further with the project and if you have not done so already, you will need to secure a ‘permis de construire’ or for smaller projects, a ‘déclaration préalable de travaux’. If required, we can refer you to a business partner who can provide assistance with the planning application process. For any building 170m2 and over, you will need the services of an architect.

Design and Planning: If your proposed building is architect designed, we will review the architect’s drawings and discuss with you before drawing up a design for the timber frame. Alternatively, if you want a smaller or a free-standing structure, we can design your timber frame based on your ideas and produce a 3D scale drawing.

Starting the Project: Once the project is agreed and secured in our workshop schedule with a 5% deposit, we will make detailed plans from the drawings for every joint in the structure. On payment of a further deposit of 40%, we will order the timber (Douglas fir or green oak) from our local suppliers here in the Dordogne and Charente and bring it to our timber framing workshop.

Project Progress: Having given you an estimated completion date for the frame, we will start cutting the joints at our workshop. The frames are built in sections using traditional carpentry, with all joints individually measured, marked, cut and tested. They are test-mounted at the workshop to ensure all joints fit properly and then adjusted as necessary.

Raising: Once this process is complete, the timber frame is transported to your site. A further payment of 40% is payable at this point. The raising is often carried out using a crane to put the frame in place. We also have our own small crane, which is appropriate for smaller projects.

Fixing: When it is all correctly in place, the timber frame is secured using traditional oak pegs. This is often the end of our involvement in the project. Now that the frame is fixed, the rest of the building work can continue around it. A final payment of 15% is payable on completion.

Cleaning: Some marking on the timber, especially oak, generally occurs at the sawmill. We sometimes recommend that clients have the frame professionally sandblasted (by a third party supplier) in order to remove these marks. Smaller structures can generally be cleaned up by us using hand tools.

Wood Treatment: Here in France and particularly in Dordogne, we have more problems with termites than in cooler, northern European climates. Treatment is not legally enforced but when selling a property you will be required to have a check for termites carried out and if there is evidence of them you will have to declare it. You may wish to treat your timber frame with insecticide before your project is completed. Preventive treatment by a registered company should come with a ten year ‘responsabilité civile décennale’ guarantee. If required, we can liaise with these companies on your behalf. You can also buy wood treatment kits yourself at low cost, or you can decide not to treat the wood – it is your choice.

Insurance: All artisans in the building trade in France should have the ten year ‘responsabilité civile décennale’ insurance. In order to get it an artisan needs to provide proof of a sufficient level of experience and skill. Louis Maw has over thirteen years’ experience as a timber framer and is fully insured with the ‘décennale’.

WE HOPE THIS PAGE GIVES YOU ENOUGH INFORMATION ABOUT OUR SERVICES. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US.