Hand Raisings are Fun and Efficient

September 6, 2022 by Shannon McIntyre

This past summer, TimberHomes hand-raised three buildings – two barns and one multi-use pavilion structure. What does this mean, why is it so fun, and can you do one too?

A hand-raising is when a timber frame structure is erected with person power, by lifting sections of the frame by hand and sometimes with the assistance of ropes or poles. You may be able to imagine an old-fashioned barn raising where many people gathered and made light work of heavy timber – that’s it! Raising a frame in this way rivals the safety and cost of hiring a crane to raise the same building.

A hand raising is satisfying for many reasons, not least because instead of the diesel roar of the crane, it’s the pleasant hum of people together to complete a rewarding project. It may seem unbelievable that 10 or 20 people might provide enough strength to push timbers, which were trees not so long ago, back up to vertical. But when the day’s work is complete, the bones of a whole building are, almost miraculously – there.

You can do a hand-raising yourself! And we can help. TimberHomes’ first project was a two story cow barn that culminated in a massive hand raising, and we’ve been doing them ever since. We do plenty of raisings with a crane and other heavy machinery, but most of the frames we build could be raised by hand, with enough people. Check out the three raisings we led in the past month:

Large Partially Heated Barn / Garage

We’d originally planned to raise this barn with a crane, but have been having so much fun with hand raising, we decided to see if the person-power was there to do it by hand. Indeed it was! The client put together this beautiful photo montage of the day – keep an eye out for descriptions of parts of the building speckled into the video:

Small Barn in Underhill

This small barn will be used for garden equipment and eventually chickens!

Pavilion Frame for Artist Residency Center

This neat frame was a collaboration between TimberHomes and another designer, to build a multi-use space for the Radical Imagination Center in Corinth. One of our owners Andrew Catlin led a roust-a-bout assisted hand raising, with many volunteers, to get this structure raised.