Click on the thumbnails
below to see the parts of a bearing wall, or a floor
Framing is one of the most exciting phases of the
construction process. During the framing phase you
will watch the house take shape. Most people get very
excited when the framing is done, thinking that the
house is almost built. In reality, the house is only
about one-third complete.
The framing must be accurate.
If the framing is poor quality, the drywall won't
be flat, the floors will squeak, and doors will not
close correctly. The job of the general contractor
is to make sure the framers follow the plans and the
In traditional platform
framing a platform or floor is built on the foundation.
The structure is bolted to the foundation with anchor
bolts and hold down straps. Walls are placed on top
of the floor joists, followed by the roof trusses
Traditionally, the floor joists are made of 2x8 -
2x12 boards. However, today the best choice for floor
trusses are composite "I" beam joists. They
are environmentally friendly using up to 60 percent
less wood to make than a solid wood joist and are
straighter, stronger and lighter than traditional
The subfloor made of 3/4 inch OSB or plywood is attached
to the joists with nails and glue to prevent squeaks
later on. Using screws instead of nails is highly
recommended.. The walls are built of 2x4 studs (2x6
exterior wall are an option). Studs, top and bottom
plates, headers trimmers and cripples form the walls
(click on graphic above). The interior of the walls
will be covered with drywall and the exterior walls
with 7/16 inch sheathing (OSB or plywood).
The roof is formed with pre-manufactured trusses or
stick-built on-site. Trusses are built off-site. They
are delivered to the site and hoisted onto the walls
using a crane. Trusses are strong, install quickly,
and can be built to almost any roof design. They are
engineered to sustain a live load, dead load, wind
resistance and snow load (see construction dictionary).
The city inspector will usually request the truss
engineering calculation during the framing inspection.
Stick built roofs allow for a little more design flexibility
and better use of attic space. Carpenters cut and
assemble boards on-site. Material for a stick-built
roof is cheaper than trusses, however labor costs
a make stick-built roof more expensive.
The time it takes to frame your house will depend
on the size, complexity, and weather conditions. Ensure
that your contract has a start date and a completion
date. If the job is delayed penalties should accrue
against the framing contractor. Never pay the contractor
until the work is finished! Retain 10 percent of the
total bid until after the framing inspection.
The contract price for
framing should include labor, fasteners (nails, hold
downs etc.) crane rental (to set trusses). Whether
the price includes materials depends on the framers
and yourself. Often, it is a good idea to purchase
the lumber, trusses, exterior doors, and windows yourself.
If you provide the materials you won't have to worry
about liens from suppliers.
necessary, hire a carpenter to check the work of the
framers. He will be able to spot potential problems
that you might miss.
The city will require a framing inspection. The inspector
will check that the building codes are followed. Generally,
they will find some corrections. Don't count on the
city framing inspector checking the quality of work!
The framing itself took a few weeks, and the building
inspector will probably spend less than one hour on
the job. He will look for code issues, not quality
issues. Fire blocking is an important issue that he
will inspect. Talk with your framing contractor about
Safety and security are two major concerns during
the framing process. Keep the site organized and free
of hazards. Pick-up loose nails and scraps of wood.
If necessary post warning signs and hazard tape to
keep people off the site. Lumber has a way of disappearing
from building sites. Keep inventory of the materials
on site and don't deliver excess material.
Labor Costs- Most framers will price the framing job
by the square foot, and difficulty of the design.
Steep roofs cost more, as do vaulted ceilings and
cut-up designs. Cut-up design are designs that are
overly complicated. Stick framed roofs also cost more.
Materials- Take a set
of your plans to three lumber yards. Generally they
will have estimators that will make a materials list.
The list will include the individual quantities and
costs. The lumber industry is very competitive so
often the service is free. Check on the delivery charges,
how fast orders can be filled, and if telephone orders
can be made. Ideally, lumber should be delivered the
day before the framers start.