Logging on to the Future of Homebuilding

Timber Block
Written by Allison Dempsey

When you picture a log cabin, you might envision something small, bare, basic, and deep in the woods, a place for weekend excursions and little more. Timber Block turns that notion on its head with stunning, contemporary timber homes.

Timber Block homes are not only environmentally sustainable, but reflect the future of building practices, using a reduced carbon emissions pre-engineering process, followed by delivery to a construction site where walls are assembled in hours for an efficient and speedy turn-around.

With an impressive 45-year track record of supplying pre-engineered homes around the world, Timber Block is a leader in the building industry and one of the top manufacturers of timber homes globally, thanks to its revolutionary, patented technology.

With locations in Innisfil, Ontario, and Connelly Springs, North Carolina, the company ships across North America and around the world.

“This is a family company founded more than 40 years ago, and it’s a really solid business with a human approach,” says Marketing Director Judith Nelson.

A very different build
“The benefit of having a house built by us is how the home can be built. We engineer the home at our in-house factory, where we’re able to pre-build the walls of the home. When they start the project on the field, it takes hours to assemble instead of weeks. That’s phenomenal and something I noticed right away when I first arrived at Timber Block.”

Where a regular home build could take six months to a year, Timber Block ensures the entire process of designing the home, including architecture, design and customization, is done before the company starts assembling and producing the home in its factory.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or snowing out, we’re not dependent on the weather,” says Nelson. “The quality is always excellent because we’re able to control our environment and it goes up very fast.”

Timber Block’s revolutionary process includes a number of other benefits, such as standard R-30 wall insulation which exceeds building codes, and features proprietary insulation co-developed with BASF, along with a new, patented R-36 wall for further energy efficiency.

Pre-stained panels are conveniently delivered to the customer’s location, with a 15-year warranty covering any high-maintenance needs.

The company offers numerous enticing home designs, but also has several staff architectural technicians who can either modify existing plans or create something personalized and unique. An SIP (structural insulated panel) with a unique advancement reduces on-site construction time and provides a seamless link from outside to inside.

The company implements its innovative building system in a controlled environment, reducing on-site job hours while providing exceptional quality control, starting with a genuine layered construction process that minimizes the chance of weather issues adversely affecting materials.

The company upholds its commitment to building environmentally friendly, energy-efficient homes with a tight thermal envelope and a patented, high-pressure insulation foam injection procedure that employs zero ODS (Ozone-Depleting Substances), making it safe for both family and environment.

Mike Holmes’ stamp of approval
Additionally, since 2017, every new Timber Block home receives a certification process courtesy of the Mike Holmes Inspection Program.

Designed to help homeowners have more control over a project, the certification includes a Factory Product Inspection of various features: the On-Site Inspection to confirm that structural framing, building envelope, exterior trims, structural elements, and weatherproofing is complete; and the On-Site Efficiency Inspection where available, to validate the home’s energy efficiency.

When the inspections are done, a report is given to both the homeowner and Timber Block project manager, who reviews the results with the client and the builder or general contractor.

“All of our homes are visited by a Mike Holmes team member to document everything they see and make sure your home is built right the first time,” says Nelson. “They’re not only making sure homes are well-built engineering-wise, but also double checking with their inspection of our property to make sure the home is secure and energy-efficient.”

A place for women
It’s that kind of dedication to building a better home, one that’s not only attractive and efficient, but actually benefits the environment, that puts Timber Block above its competition in the home-building industry. And as a woman working in that industry, Nelson feels nothing but positivity for her experiences in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“If you’re a woman and passionate about construction or real estate, everything to do with that type of environment, I would 100 percent go for it,” says Nelson. “I wouldn’t listen to the stereotypes behind the construction industry. The guys are welcoming. For sure, though, you have to have a strong personality.”

Women, she adds, are often the heart of the company, making things run smoothly. “If you’re a woman and want to pursue working in a predominantly male environment, trust in your abilities. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and speak about any improvements or innovations you might want to bring to the table,” she says. “If what you want to do makes sense, and it benefits the company, then there’s rarely any issue.”

If anything, she feels construction companies have the most open minds.

“I work with construction companies, tech companies, corporations, and it’s kind of new still that they have women in decision making positions. It hasn’t been a long track record, so I feel they’re more inclined to listen to and welcome women’s opinions and ideas. They’re really open-minded about trying something new. Many companies in the construction area are innovating, so there’s a lot of growth potential.”

The industry’s potential means plenty of opportunities for both young women starting out and women who might be looking for a career change.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to implement new practices as a woman in the construction industry and really build something meaningful,” Nelson says.

Drastic changes
The idea of making those innovative and positive differences relates to her specifically, as she was brought in during COVID as Marketing Director and realized some drastic changes were needed, particularly with the company’s digital technology and web presence.

“They had lots of presence at trade shows and in traditional marketing like prints but were lacking a strong presence digitally,” she explains. As 2020 was a year of adjustments, with no shows industry-wide, Timber Block moved to online marketing and maximized its utilization of 3D technology.

“With no one allowed to go anywhere or see our model homes in person, everything had to be online. We needed a brand-new website to support the now fairly different needs of our clients.”

Heeding her own advice regarding implementing a great idea and practical plan when possible, she saw the potential for real change and made the leap.

“The website was outdated and, with a heavy load-time, it did not allow the dreaming process to take place,” she says. “We had to elevate our online presence, and while we were at it, started introducing 3D animation, which is extremely innovative for a construction company.”

Instead of having to take a step back, it was actually a step up, she says of the website and overall branding redesign, which is now reaching a new and different clientele.

“We wanted to continue to target log cabin lovers, but we mainly wanted to diversify our offering and reach new markets for timber frame homes,” she says of the company’s products. “It’s a big accomplishment, being able to sell these homes online, rebranding, and continuing to peak sales during COVID.”

The timber challenge
COVID has presented a number of other challenges for the company, particularly regarding its main construction material, timber, with prices having increased exponentially over the past two years.

“It was one of the most challenging years in the history of Timber Block, and there was nothing we could do because the price increase was out of our control and timber was scarce,” says Nelson. “We sat down and figured out how to offer the homes at a competitive price point, but also be able to control the increase as well.”

That plan meant whenever the price of materials went up, Timber Block notified customers to let them know in advance, and to always keep them informed, the only company to implement such a plan, she says.

“But what customers really appreciated as well was when the price went down, then the price of the home went down as well,” Nelson adds. “Other building companies, when prices go down, they keep the price up no matter what to recoup losses. We wanted to be transparent with our clients and provide the best offer we could at all times.”

The new tactics and strategies, coupled with a strong online presence, marketing campaigns based on location, and aligned vision with the sales department, resulted in the best year of sales in seven years.

“All our online consistent marketing effort paid off in a big way!” says Nelson. “However, it was still a big struggle to overcome the pandemic roadblocks. It was a challenge, but having experts in-house – designers, architectural technicians, marketing, and sales – helped achieve results as a team!”

The future of homebuilding
Is Timber Block leading the way for builds and design? Absolutely, says Nelson.

“This is the future of homebuilding. People are trying to build efficiently and with sustainability in mind because of climate change, and what’s happening in the world right now. With the amount of CO2 that would be saved if everyone could have a Timber home, it’s the build of the future, because your house isn’t hurting the environment – it’s actually helping.”

To that end, the company also offers a GREENGUARD Gold Certification that confirms that the products used to build and finish Timber Block homes are scientifically proven to meet the world’s most demanding chemical emissions standards, further helping to reduce indoor air pollution and the risk of harmful chemical exposure.

“At the end of the day, yes, our homes are beautiful and outstanding, but the biggest thing is they’re sustainable,” says Nelson.

“Usually when you build your dream home, you have forever in mind. That’s the mindset, to have it for 50 years. But in the next 50 years, it’s important to do anything to help the planet sustainably. And you can have a smaller carbon footprint simply by having a Timber Block home.”

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