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 building code.
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
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
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
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 fire blocking.
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
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
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.