House Framing and Construction Tips
A Properly Framed House or Home Addition
Should last for Decades
By Mark J. Donovan
Similar to an animalís bone structure, house framing acts as a skeleton to
support and protect the interior and exterior of a home. If the house
framing is constructed properly a home should be able to last many decades
and possibly much longer. There are many wood framed buildings that are
hundreds of years old.
On the flip side, improper house framing results in both immediate and
long term problems, and as a result the life of the home is usually
An improperly framed house
creates immediate problems for the other subcontractors associated with
completing the home. Crooked walls and insufficient blocking, for example,
create difficulties for both the drywall and finish carpentry contractors.
Though they can frequently adjust for the poor house framing, it takes them
more time and more of your money to do so. In addition, compromises in the
home are always inevitable.
Design to Building Codes and Pull Construction Permits
Prior to starting a house framing project it is important that you understand
the local building and fire codes, and ensure that your construction and house
framing plans meet these requirements. Codes vary with states and
municipalities so it is important to check with your local building and fire
inspectors. Of particular concern to them will be items such as ingress and
egress from the house, as well as ceiling heights, door and hallway widths and
the window sizes used in the house. In addition, they will want to understand
your plans for fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and other safety systems within
|It is critical to pull all necessary building permits before starting
construction. Not only is it the law, it is also extremely beneficial to you and
your home. As part of the permit process the building inspector will review
your complete set of plans and assess that the home will indeed be constructed
to local and national building codes. In many cases the building inspector will
provide advice on problem areas of your construction plans. Think of the permit
process as an independent audit of your construction plans and an insurance
policy on your financial investment.
The last thing you want to do is frame a house without a permit. The
building inspector could go as far as to tell you to tear the entire
structure down due to lack of proper permits.
After the house framing is complete, and before any other work begins on
the home, the building inspector should be called out to inspect the house
Framing Lumber and Other Building Materials
When framing a house it is important to use quality framing lumber.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Make sure that the lumber is straight
and is the appropriate size for the particular sections of the house framing.
Again, the type and size of house framing material to be used should be
specified in your home construction plans that you present to the building
inspector for obtaining a construction permit. It is also critical to use the
right type of fasteners (e.g. right size nails or screws) for tying lumber
If steel beams, engineered lumber, or lally columns are necessary it is wise
to make sure that an engineering or architecture firm has specified or approved
of the material to be used. Steel beams and engineered wood beams are frequently
used to span large openings to eliminate the need for structural support walls.
When it comes to house framing, the more you can do on the ground the easier
and safer it will be. After framing the deck, frame and sheath walls on the deck
and then raise them into place. Make sure, however, to not build walls so large
that you and your framing team can not pick them up and put them into place.
Also keep your material stacked and covered well. It is vital to protect your
framing material from the weather to prevent water damage such as warping and
Also order a dumpster to be located on the jobsite to prevent sloppy and
dangerous scrap piles from forming around the construction site.
Whenever possible try to schedule your house framing during the warmer and
drier months of the season. Both you and your construction material will benefit
from this type of planning.
House Framing Tools - Use the Right Tools
Make sure you have all the necessary tools for house framing. Key tools are a
pneumatic nailer and air compressor, along with traditional hammers, tape
measures, framing square, skill saw, reciprocating saw, level, pencil, plumb
line and ladders.
Also make sure you have safety glasses and work gloves, along with a
Focus on Quality
Use your framing square, level and plumb line constantly during your house
framing project to ensure straight, level, and plumb floors and walls. Tilted
floors and crooked or leaning walls are permanent problems that impact the
quality and the longevity of the home.
Also make sure to use glue (e.g. liquid nails) and sufficient and properly
sized nails on subfloors to prevent them from flexing and squeaking.
Finally, make sure sill plates are
properly fastened to the foundation. Again, make sure you check with your local
building inspector to see what the proper fastening requirements are, as they
can vary depending upon where you live, e.g. earthquake prone areas.
For a comprehensive new home construction
checklist, see my
New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid
Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to
prospective building contractors. It also includes a comprehensive new home
construction cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the
contractor to include his projected new home construction costs for every phase
of the project.
How to Finance your New Home Construction Project -
can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is
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