The Process

//The Process
The Process 2017-01-12T13:48:47+00:00

Design & Engineering

Our process starts with you. Whether working off your existing plans, or a napkin sketch, Bensonwood’s design and/or engineering teams will translate your home building dreams into 3D digital models for review, communication, and precision building. We build throughout the country and occasionally build internationally.

We build at least 40 projects each year, including everything from cottages and pool houses to beautifully simple, affordable homes to legacy residential and large-scale commercial structures.

“From the first phone call to the last delivery made this week, the experience working with the Bensonwood team has been a pleasure. You should be proud of the people that you have working for you.” – John and Evelyn S.

The Design-Bid-Build Process

Entering into a Schematic Design Agreement allows our architectural, engineering, and project management team to work with you to develop your concept and plans.  As the design unfolds the team evaluates the structural integrity of the building, and continually estimates  building costs, which helps keep the design decisions on track.

The cost of this design phase is dependent on the complexity and anticipated number of hours needed to complete your design. The end result of this collaborative process is a home design that has evolved to meet your functional and aesthetic design requirements, as well as your budgetary guidelines.  We will then have enough detail to offer you a building contract, at a specific, fixed cost for our scope of work on your project.

Our “design phase” is a multi-step process, working from initial sketches up through full architectural plans and elevations. You’ll have as much or as little input as you’d like along the way. And our architects don’t work alone. Engineers, interior designers, and project managers will all be part of your Bensonwood Team, assisting you in decision making, watching your budget, and planning for the construction of your home. To help you better understand what is often a complex process, basic architectural services as outlined and defined by the AIA often include one or all of the following:

Schematic Design (SD): Schematic design often produces a site plan, floor plan(s), sections, an elevation, and other illustrative materials; computer images, renderings, or models. Typically the drawings include overall dimensions, and a construction cost is estimated. Note: The contract may actually spell out what is to be delivered.

Design Development (DD): Design development often produces floor plans, sections, and elevations with full dimensions. These drawings typically include door and window details and outline material specifications.

Construction Documents (CD): The construction document phase produces a set of drawings that include all pertinent information required for the contractor to price and build the project.

Bid or Negotiation Phase: The final deliverable is a construction contract. Once this document is signed, project construction can begin.

Contract Administration/Construction Phase (CA): The architect’s core responsibility during this phase is to help the contractor to build the project as specified in the CDs as approved by the owner, which results in a successfully built and contracted project.

architect client meeetingBasically, your architect will do a site survey with you, to orient your home both for beauty and for energy efficiency. Bensonwood’s staff of architects will collaborate with you to design your building. From the first design meetings and phone calls, through construction, your architect will be on-hand, answering questions and addressing challenges. A team of designers, engineers, and shop craftsmen will work with the architect to make sure every detail of your building meets our exacting standards…and yours. To learn more about the AIA’s recommended best practices click here.

Building Site Visits

As part of our schematic design process, we visit your building site to ensure your home is well-designed for, and optimally situated on, your property.

Interior Design

interior designOur in-house interior designer is professionally trained to create a functional and quality interior environment. Qualified through education, experience, and examination, a professional designer can identify, research, and creatively resolve issues and lead to a healthy, safe, and comfortable physical environment.

A decorator fashions the “look” of a space and its outward decoration—paint, fabric, furnishings, light fixtures, and other materials. In addition to enhancing the total visual environment, an interior designer creates a space that is functional, efficient, and safe.

Working with Your Architect

We gladly work with plans from outside architects and can revise and update those plans if your needs change. Once your architectural plans are reviewed in-house, our engineers work up a set of engineering drawings for review and pricing.

Working with Your Local Builder

We have a trained, experienced network of local builders around the country to finish out our homes. In many locations, we can build the whole house package. In areas where this doesn’t make good economic sense, we have a network of contractors who can oversee the job to completion.

DIY Owner/Builders

The owner/builder is a big part of the Bensonwood culture. Many of our associates are owner/builders themselves and we get a great deal of pride and enjoyment working with the intrepid individuals who work hard to realize their dream.


A Bensonwood home is comparable in cost to high-quality construction going on in the area where the home is being built—if that high-quality conventional construction is built with the same durability and comparable insulation as our timber frame homes. Because Bensonwood home designs and estimates are highly accurate, our clients enjoy the benefit of having predictable costs with very few surprises.

Cost of a timber frame home compared to a conventional stick-frame homeTIMBER FRAME ON FOUNDATION

There is little difference in the cost of building a fully timber framed home with insulated panels compared to a conventionally framed home with the SAME performance qualities. This, combined with structural integrity (timber frames can last hundreds of years), architectural interest, and overall uniqueness of a timber framed home, make for a huge difference in value.

Bensonwood cost vs. other timber frame companies

We are competitive throughout our industry. Since there’s a wide range of quality in everything from panels, timber joinery and timbers, to engineering and design, we recommend that you spend time learning as much as possible about other companies, and then compare. We’re confident you’ll see that we provide the best overall value and service at a comparable cost.


Cost of shipping a shell package across the country

It depends on the distance of the shipmentwrapped house panels and your local building costs. If local costs are low, and the distance great, it may make sense for you to have us build the enclosed shell while using local labor the finish out the house. However, if local labor costs are high (or skilled labor is scarce or unavailable), shipping can be extremely cost-effective, regardless of distance.

Cost to transport Bensonwood timbers, crew, and components from New Hampshire to your site
This is dependent on the size and complexity of your project, and the distance your package needs to be shipped. However, shipping costs can sometimes offset the greater cost of building in an expensive area.

Cost savings of a factory built home compared to a site built home
The cost efficiencies of off-site fabrication in our shops are plowed back into your home in the form of added quality and finish. Dollar for dollar, Bensonwood homes have noticeably higher production values than site built homes.


Payment Schedules

Payment schedule for a Shell Package Contract
Our typical schedule includes six payments:

  1. Deposit at time of signing contract (usually about 10% of value of the package)
  2. The second payment is billed when shop work begins on your project (usually about 30% of package value)
  3. The third payment is billed upon completion of the shop work (about 30% of package value)
  4. The fourth payment is billed after your frame and panels have been erected on site
  5. The fifth payment is billed when your windows and doors are delivered to your site
  6. The final payment is billed to you when the Entry Door is delivered to your site

Payment schedule for a Whole House Package Contract
Please contact us for this payment schedule.

Timeline to build a Bensonwood Shell Package

Depending on our schedule, the complexity of the project and the client’s needs, Bensonwood typically requires a 12 to 16 week lead time for delivery of your project.

Timeline to Assemble a Bensonwood Shell Package On Site

The time it takes to assemble a Bensonwood shell package on site depends on the size and complexity of your project. The frame and shell for a modest New England Cape can take as little as a week, where an expansive, complex home with soaring great rooms and multiple wings, would take considerably longer. A modest home can usually be completed within three to six months from the time our shell is completed.