Philip S. Bjork | Professional Colleague

Owner and Founder of  a timberframing company; Great Northern Woodworks, Inc.

Over the past four decades there have been a handful of craftsman visionaries who have been at the forefront of the resurgence of timbered structures. Merle had his part in that select group and still continues to show excellence in new and innovate ways, utilizing a wide array of materials to define space, form, and structure.

Few are as well versed in the hard won calluses of working with hand tools and the eye for making the work into an art form. The resulting combination of material, tool, and design has given Merle and his company BT an honored place among the many of his peers. I look forward to what next comes off of his workbench and design scratch pad.

The Davis Family | Client

From start to finish, the Big Timberworks Team took a personal and caring approach to make our new house an exceptional, unique, one-of- a-kind home for our family. With this goal from the first day, Merle and his team designed, engineered and built a superbly insulated house with a rustic, yet comfy industrial feel that fits well with its Bridger Canyon surroundings. A combination of metal highlights, reclaimed wood and other special features provide lasting conversation between family, friends and guests. Thanks to all the hard work of BT a love resides forever in our beautiful home. We are very happy and glad we chose Big Timberworks.

Ben Brungraber, Ph.D., P.E. | Professional Colleague

Engineer/Worrier at Fire Tower Engineered Timber

It has been my complete pleasure to be involved with Big Timberworks for nearly thirty years. In that time I have been:

Competitor – for twenty years I sold special projects at Benson Woodworking. I lost several fine jobs to BT, but never worried that we had been undercut, nor that the client would not be well treated. Colleague – working on Timber Framers Guild Projects and sharing a wild rush job in Terre Haute. Client – BT has honored us with several fine and fun jobs with challenging structural components over the past seven years. Their projects are never boring. Friend – I am proud to consider myself an old friend of BT. They have hosted me many times over my years of travel. Merle provided me needed moral support, as I turned fifty heliskiing in Banff. (See photo above!)

I like to think of myself as a fine and gifted builder; but I have no problem admitting that I am CERTAIN that anything I build for myself would be built even better, by BT. I can say this of only three entities I have known in my forty years of building. To be specific about what BT brings to any construction project:

GREEN When I say BT is green I am not speaking vaguely and about only arguable savings. BT was an early and enthusiastic recycler of building products, and has gotten so good at it that their patinated look is sought for its own aesthetic. BT also adopted and pursued high energy efficiency building techniques. They even try to guide clients’ designs to down-size; an ongoing effort to buck trends.CREATIVE I love touring finished BT projects, looking at new applications for old and used materials. Sinks made from unlikely objects, hand rails from lift cables, floors of who knows what.CRAFTSMANSHIP The level of finish detailing that BT seems to seek is not just high, but appropriate. They do not, simply, just go for perfectly tight fits every time. Rather, they vary the level of fussiness to the actual need for the place in the building.INNOVATIVE As a structural engineer, I have long enjoyed BT’s efforts in seeking new ways to build (and pre-build) walls and support roofs. They simply never seem to stop improving even the stuff we do not see in the finished building.

In short? Big TImberworks is a wonderful design/build company. They make me proud to be a member of the construction profession.

Steve and Becky Smith | Client

BT has a gift for capturing a vision – that gift is rooted in a dedication to listening to each client and co-creating a unique and esthetic space that is truly one of a kind. The essence of the spirit of each client is transformed into an enduring work of art – a testament to the power of a well-designed and well-built structure.

We had a vision of a retreat-like home on our building site on the East Gallatin River – a place for family, friends, and colleagues – a place for creativity, conversations and reflection. Big Timberworks exceeded our expectations in every way. We cannot imagine a more comfortable, innovative and unique space to live in – we have the artistic wisdom, exceptional skills and quality of BT to thank for that.

We are now embarking on our second project with them that will be integrated with the esthetics and beauty of our current structure and 20 acres surrounded by gorgeous mountains. Working with them has been deeply satisfying, fun, and full of artistic surprises that in the end becomes a soulful place, inside and out.

Nathan Burwell | Subcontractor/ Carpenter

Owner of Burwell Built

Working alongside BT has been a great experience. The knowledge, talent and creativity of their team goes into every project. Big Timberworks is a one of a kind shop.

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Enn and Nancy Magi | Client

We started with dreaming big and ended dreaming small, and discovered that size is less important than the dream itself. When we found Merle and his fellow dreamer-craftsman at BT, we realized over a period of time a relationship of value and trust to make our dreams reality. They were able to take our ideas and scribbles and not only flow with them but leaped beyond to create a structure with creative surprises and fine detail. We had a contract of course, but our continuing communications, mutual understanding and working together each step from ground breaking to the finish were more important and a source of pleasure and excitement whether we were there or 1100 miles away. Now our cabin sits in the meadow as if it always belonged there, just as we visualized and we find great comfort and contentment within.

John Abrams | Professional Colleague

President of South Mountain Company and author of  The Company We Keep 

When I first met Merle about 15 years ago we immediately recognized each other as lunatic kindred spirits, passionate about many of the same things. We became fast friends and have learned from each other ever since.

Big Timberworks makes some of the most wonderfully inventive buildings I’ve ever seen. They have a broad range of capabilities and practice a very complete version of integrated design/build. It’s kind of like “growing buildings” – from the earliest planning to turning the soil to seeds in the ground to food on the table.

There aren’t many like BT left. In fact, now that I think about it, there never were many! Not like them- they have a unique sensibility and a particular appetite and eye for the art of the unexpected.

Kim Hoelting | Professional Colleague

Owner Extraordinaire at Live Edge Woodworks

It is with great pleasure that I write a brief reference for Big Timberworks. In my almost forty years as a contractor and wood specialist, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of very talented designers and fabricators in all of the trades. I cannot recall any who have brought a better combination of professionalism and simple joy into their workplace. Whenever I load my truck for the long trek from Whidbey Island in Washington State to Bozeman, the process is infused with an almost boyish anticipation of all the good things that will happen once I arrive. There is a soulfulness embedded at Big Timberworks that cannot really be described, but is worth standing next to.

Parker Platt | Professional Client

Practicing Architect at Platt Architecture, PA

Big Timberworks has exceeded our expectations for over 15 years. Time and time again they bring materials and talents to our timberframe projects that help us achieve results better than we could imagine. Big Twig is the real deal and we count ourselves fortune to work together.

Susan Rabatin and Jack Russell Terrier, Dottie | Client

My husband died suddenly and left me with a newly built log cabin that I loved although it had problems. I called BT because I like their rustic modern aesthetic and practical approach. I went forward with them because after our initial meeting I liked and trusted them pretty much immediately. Our first project in 2007 was taking down a weight-bearing wall between 2 tiny rooms and created a larger usable room by adding fir beams and timber frame elements. In the same year they installed all new doors and hardware and laid an oak floor on the main level. In subsequent years we worked together to design a new kitchen that would integrate within an open great room. They were patient with me and together we came up with a design that I loved. In 2011 they installed the new kitchen. They were helpful in giving me temporary shelving and a sink so that I was never without at least a minimal functioning kitchen during the remodel. That same year they rebuilt my front porch, put a stone floor in my entry and redid my front door. We just finished working together again this year creating an enclosed back porch–basically a granary-sided garden shed attached to my house– that is already paying dividends in helping me care for my dogs and store my firewood and garden tools.

I recommend BT with no reservations. They have a staff with experience and skills in every aspect of building a home that will be comfortable, practical, charming and that will fit your site. In our 6-year working relationship they have always been direct, knowledgeable and courteous. I don’t know what I would have done without them; I sure would not have the home I have today. And perhaps as important as loving their work, I count them all as friends.

Damon Rao | Building Professional

Partner at The PRG Group

I am one of three partners at The PRG Group. We are a luxury custom builder in Big Sky and The Yellowstone Club. Big Timberworks is a trusted subcontractor and team member of PRG. They have provided and installed the reclaimed timber packages on 6 of our Yellowstone Club homes in the past year. Their craftsmanship and attention to detail have been at the highest level. The staff at Big Timberworks are straightforward and professional; we are proud to have them on our projects. We have more projects on the drawing board with BT and look forward to a long relationship.

mcphie kristie testimonial
Kristie Eagle McPhie | Professional Colleague

Certified Kitchen Designer at McPhie Cabinetry

“Whether installing cabinetry in a Big Timbworks home, planning timber framing in our own showroom, or collaborating on unique tables, countertops, panels, and artistic rusted metal entry doors; each project has been a dynamic and exciting process! Attention to detail, fine workmanship and a focus on creating truly unique homes for each client is a constant goal. For over 25 years, Big Timberworks and McPhie cabinetry have woven through each other’s building and remolding projects. Having more recently shared office space with BT Studios, we are more appreciative than ever of BT’s talented designers and craftsmen!”