Care, Curiosity & Joy

An interview with Gary Snider.

Reflecting on the principles that guide our work with clients…

On the Importance of Being Acknowledged

I’m not an extrovert, so stepping into a new social setting where I don’t recognize anyone, brings a sense of vulnerability.  What a difference it makes when someone steps out of the crowd and welcomes me!  That one, simple act of acknowledgement changes everything that follows – it opens the door to real connection.

It still surprises me when clients phone and say they’re delighted that we answered their call or returned their message so quickly.  Isn’t this what every business does?  I can’t imagine offering a high-quality product and not prioritizing the customer experience, not only in that first contact but day by day.  I think it’s the natural outcome of experiencing care ourselves.

Understanding is Foundational

The basis for trust is the assurance that you are understood.  I first encountered Cornerstone as a client and was impressed with how they listened, the perceptive questions and their genuine interest in the details of my project.  That experience brought me back to Cornerstone a few years later and I’ve enjoyed building on the notion that listening well is a joy for both parties to a conversation.  If you’re truly focused on understanding someone, you’ll always find a fascinating person in front of you.  The beauty of seeing every person as worthwhile and interesting is that it’s nearly always a reciprocal experience.

Sites & Possibilities

In my experience, every designer worth their wage will want to visit your building site.  With the advent of easily accessible maps, aerial photos and “street views” there may be an argument for letting those replace a site visit, especially if the location is remote.  As helpful as those can be, they are a weak substitute for walking the site with the client, taking in views, the sun, sky, and lay of the land.  Visits to building sites can be memorable because the conversations and experiences at the site often give rise to ideas that improve a design.


It’s often hard for designers and tradespeople to ask about client budgets up-front.  Having that important conversation early ensures buildable designs and more comfortable conversations around features and options.  Over the years, I’ve seen a pattern that is now highly predictable:  if a client’s current home or cottage has an awkward, too-small space, the design for the new place will be at risk of oversizing that same space.  Kitchens, foyers, main bedrooms, and garages top the list.  Again, a designer who is empowered to ask questions is your best guide to getting a “right-sized” result.


 One of my favourite things to discover is a client’s aesthetic preferences.  Just like food or art, the visual impact of a physical space exists on a continuum (and often several) – rustic to refined, traditional to modern, detailed to minimalist, hidden to visible… and more.  Some clients love an industrial vibe where metal plates and bolts are celebrated, others are drawn to clean Scandinavian lines. 

Over 32 years, we’ve done it all.  The vision for the aesthetic goal comes from conversation, the sharing of inspirational images and those ideas that arise from the site itself.  For clients who can’t quite imagine what a finished space will look like, the power of 3D rendering makes the “yet-to-be” visible and almost real.

Happiness in my work comes from serving people, getting to know what’s important to them, and playing a part in helping them achieve the best outcomes.  It takes curiosity and care.  When done well, the reward is joy.

If you’re considering a timber frame or mass timber project, get in touch:  204.377.5000,

Mass Timber- A Durable Choice

Mass Timber- A Durable Choice

Recent developments in wood technology have generated a range of mass timber products that are strong, durable, and fire-resistant. The versatility and strength of mass timber products continue to draw the attention of architects, builders and industry partners across North America.

Wood’s natural flexibility and toughness make it a resilient building material, capable of providing centuries of durability. One reason behind this is that timber can absorb and release moisture from the air and is resistant to many of the conditions and chemicals that can harm steel and concrete. Coupled with quality design and routine maintenance, mass timber structures can have an astonishingly long service life.

A study from Wood and Fiber Science in 2019 noted that a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure withstood over 90 minutes of burning before the loss of integrity. In contrast, a single-story wood frame home in the same study only withstood 17 minutes before the collapse. The reason behind mass timber’s remarkable fire resistance lies in how it reacts to flames. When exposed to fire, it forms a layer of char on the surface. This char layer creates an insulator for the core, protecting it from the flames. This attribute makes mass timber a safe choice for homes and mid-rise apartments because it allows the occupants much more time to escape in the event of a fire.

In 2007, a team of Japanese and Italian scientists used a ‘shake table’ to test a seven-story CLT building. The results showed it could withstand the equivalent seismic forces of the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Since mass timber elements are flexible, lightweight, and strong, they’re less affected by side-to-side seismic motion than similarly sized steel or concrete structures.

When building your next project, it’s important to consider the durability and resilience of your materials. Using mass timber adds strength and safety. At the same time, wood’s natural qualities make it a visual joy. Cornerstone Timberframes is proud to offer mass timber frames built to last generations.

Are you interested in using mass timbers for your project? Reach out to us by phone at 204- 377-5000, or via email at

Photo by Nordic Structures.

Mass Timber- A Construction Revolution for 2023

Mass Timber- A Construction Revolution for 2023

Considering construction trends and consumer interests in 2023, mass timber will be at the forefront of innovative and sustainable construction this year. Its strength, durability, and beauty have already captured the attention of architects and industry leaders in Europe, North America and Asia. Its popularity will only grow as more customers ask for sustainable building materials.

What is Mass Timber?

Mass timber (short for ‘massive timber’) is a building material that joins layers of timber together with glue, dowels, or nails to form a single product. A variety of products fall under this label. For example, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is made by layering timber boards crosswise at 90° angles and gluing them into place. The strength and versatility of these materials allow them to span farther and be used as columns, beams, floors, building envelopes, and demising walls.

On The Rise.

Over the past decade, mass timber has seen extreme growth in demand. In 2015, global mass timber production only reached 500,000 m³. Since then, production has skyrocketed. In 2020, global production reached 2.8 million m³; more than 40% year-on-year growth. Considering these rates, mass timber could account for 0.5% of all new urban buildings by 2050, an impressive feat for a relatively new material.

Why is it So Popular?

Although once considered an emerging building technology, mass timber has quickly gained wider market acceptance. This is due mainly to the urgent need for low-carbon buildings. “Wood sequesters carbon,” reports Kristen Mosier, “removing it from the atmosphere and storing it.”

Mass timber allows architects and designers to reduce their building’s carbon footprint without sacrificing quality.
Mass timber products perfectly combine safety, beauty, affordability, and durability. It’s no wonder why they’re at the forefront of sustainable construction.

At Cornerstone Timberframes, we are proud to work with mass timbers and the design ideas that are changing how we build. Interested in mass timber for your project? Reach out to us by phone at (204) 377-5000 or email us at

Photo by: Nordic Structures.