Shelter Institute FAQ

Should I bring my own tools?

Each of the different classes have their own requirements. In particular, you will need a complete set of your own tools for the Post and Beam Class (complete list here). For the more comprehensive two, three, and fifteen week classes, the requirements are not as strict, but useful tools include:

calculator that can calculate square root


writing implements

drafting equipment (will be provided)

camera (believe it or not, people have forgotten this)

hand saw, portable drill, sliding T-bevel, tape measure, chisel, hand plane (Saw Horse workshop)

hammer, tool belt for work on-site (optional)

Where will I stay?

When you register for a class at the Shelter Institute, we send you our housing list which offers about forty special places to stay within commuting distance of our campus. Prices start at $100 per week for a room in one of our host's homes. You may decide to rent a cottage near the water for $400 or more per week. Some of our students choose to camp or even bring their own RV to stay in. And, of course, there are hotels and motels near by. You choose accommodations that suit your particular needs. A car is very helpful, but some more ambitious students have gotten by with a bicycle.

What about meals?

In the same way that our students stay in a wide variety of places, they eat a wide variety of foods. There are many restaurants within 5 miles of the campus. There is a grocery store, convenience store, and pizza place about one mile down the road. Many people bring bag lunches and prepare meals while they are here. Some accommodations come with kitchen privileges. There are also several evening events during our classes. The three-week class typically sees a night out at a local restaurant as a group, an evening barbecue, and a final pot luck supper. Bring what you like to eat, and be prepared to share.

What clothing should I bring?

One sure thing about the weather in Maine is that you can never be sure what it will be. Check out the individual class you are considering for a general description of weather conditions at that time of year. But, in general, come prepared for cold as well as warm. We have had 50-degree days in January and 20 degree days in June. Clothing that can be worn in layers is very helpful.

Can I bring my Pet Goldfish, Gerbel, Dog?

While we greatly appreciate the bond between human and pet and celebrate yur relationship with your favorite pet, we cannot permit students to bring their pets to any of the classes. There are several excellent Boarding Facilities in the area where you might consider boarding your pet during the day so that you can see them before and after class.

What credits will I earn by attending the Shelter Institute class?

Graduates of the three-week design build class can use their diploma towards college credits, teacher certification credits, real estate certification credits, or VA work programs. Officially, the Shelter Institute three week design/build class is accredited through the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) Physics department as the equivalent of a one-semester class (4 credit-hours). Upon graduation, we can provide you with the necessary paperwork to register your credits. There is a nominal administrative fee that goes to the University of Maine (approximately $25).

Does Shelter allow students to visit from other countries? How does an international student register for a course?

We've had customers and students visit Shelter from Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. Recently, we've had students from Germany, Brazil, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, and France. Please understand that some of our instructors are quite adept French speakers, but all courses are taught in English.

Unfortunately, we've had some challenges with credit card orders originating from outside the U.S. Our merchant account security settings are robust, and as such we can not process orders online if the customer is using a non-U.S. bank, if the billing address is international, or in some circumstances if the computer is located abroad.

If you would like to register for a Shelter Institute course and are outside of the country, please contact us via email or by phone. We will be happy to process your payment manually by phone or by an alternate electronic method. Thank you for your understanding.

What is the Cancellation Policy if Shelter has to cancel a Class?

If Shelter does not have enough students enrolled (see minimum enrollment per class) or if an instructor has a medical or personal reason we may cancel or reschedule a class. This is a rare occassion but if it occurs, Shelter will provide a full refund on the class tuition and/or registration deposits. If a class is cancelled due to inclement weather, Shelter will work to schedule the class as soon as possible after teh scheduled date.

What happens if I register for a class and then discover that I cannot make it?

Our classes are extremely popular and we typically have wait lists for them. We encourage students to register as soon as they know when they might want to attend. Although we work hard to plan ahead and depend on each students commitment to attend a class, we also know that life can be unpredictable. If you register for a class and cannot make it you are permitted one free cancellation and can take your full deposit amount and apply it to another class of your choosing. We typically put you into "Floater" status and wait for you to re-register for the class you can attend. If you have to cancel a second time you loose $100 of your deposit and if you cancel a third time you loose the remainder of your deposit. However, if you find that you need to cancel within three weeks of the start of a class, you will loose your registration deposit completely.

  • Pete Neidhardt
    After taking their Design & Build course, I had the confidence to build this timber frame house, from a version of their stock plans. And you will too.
    Pete Neidhardt
  • Chasen Gillies
    We drove thirteen hours through a blizzard to take the timber framing course and it was worth it. You can tell this family has been teaching people since the 70's. 70's?! These guys are great. I hope to be back to learn but just saying "HI" would be a win. They've probably mapped out every minute of the week for the students but it still feels relaxed. Best of all, I can say with confidence, I can build a house. A timber structure. And I will
    Chasen Gillies
  • Matt Anglin
    Excellent course on house building. Teaches about every aspect of house including good design principles.
    Matt Anglin
  • Laurie Palagyi
    Shelter is a phenomenal resource of skill, intelligence, and good people. I took the two week design/build course and it was wonderful. I left with the confidence to assess my own home and any future home that I may build or purchase. Shelter is the real deal.
    Laurie Palagyi
  • David H T Kane
    Instructors make sure their lectures are clear and understandable to the students. Great follow through.
    David H T Kane
  • Deborah Caldwell
    Nothing can beat the hands-on experience that my daughter and I enjoyed for three weeks at the shelter institute. I have kept in touch ever since. I am disappointed that I cannot leave a comment on Pats chainsaw videos. The system does not seem to acknowledge our presence.
    Deborah Caldwell
  • Enzo Talladira
    As a second generation carpenter/joiner Shelter Institute's online course is a must for all who are interested in Timber Framing and the enjoyment of life.

    I have found the team to be responsive, caring and helpful. A pleasure to deal with.
    Enzo Talladira
  • Kristina Rae Bolduc
    So far our online courses are phenomenal!!! We love Pat, Gaius, and Blueberry! Gabe is pretty awesome too!!
    Kristina Rae Bolduc

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Latest Posts

October 15, 2020

FB Post #1

In this fifth video of our Chainsaw Video Series, Pat covers his favorite way of sharpening. A sharp chainsaw is a safer chainsaw, and way more fun to use! Whether you want more performance, or longevity out of your chain, Pat will go over the different variables when it comes to sharpening, and help you understand some of the core principles.
October 15, 2020

FB Post #2

We are well into the second week of class winding up a rousing day of Wiring taught by Pat Hennin , Blueberry Beeton wrapped up our Monday with Model-Framing. Tomorrow starts bright and early with a window installation and water-proofing workshop with Gaius Hennin

October 15, 2020

FB Post #3

We are thrilled to welcome 30 (smaller than our typical maximum to continue to support social distancing) students to our Two Week Design Build Class. It has been a historic two years since our last Design Build Class and we are so grateful for the continued interest in our classes and the opportunity to welcome these folks to Shelter and our philosophies of designing and building. #thinkbuildlive

Interested in BeTheme? Don’t wait and get it now!