The first consideration should always be the architect and engineer you are going to use. Choose one who has experience of oak timber frames. This may sound obvious, but many architects and designers are unaware of the strengths and limitations a timber frame has to offer.
We have recently been asked to tender for a barn conversion. Drawings have been passed to a builder who then asked us (and others) to provide a quote based on these drawings. There was not a single mortice and tenon joint in sight, only steel plates and brackets to join the oak beams. These are not traditional timber framing methods and will not provide the end customer with the look and feel a traditional oak timber frame has to offer.
The engineer hasn’t even stated that stainless steel must be used as the tannin in oak will react with standard steel causing corrosion and ultimately failure of the joint.
We are working with the builder to try and change the design and engineering so that traditional methods can be used without the use of stainless steel. Not only will this provide a more aesthetically pleasing and more durable frame but could save the customer thousands of pounds in build costs.
There are plenty of architects and engineers that do understand timber framing and have experience in this field, so please do your research and choose wisely.