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The Do's & Don't of Building Your Dream Home

Fourth in a series: Framing and Sheathing, Systems and Drywall

(If You Missed Part One Please Follow This Link)
(If You Missed Part Two Please Follow This Link)
(If You Missed Part Three Please Follow This Link)

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Well it's good to see you back on the job, let's get to work. We had had the first of our bank inspections after the preliminary site and foundation work was completed. The contractors and suppliers have gotten their disbursements and we are ready to really raise the roof, in both the proverbial and literal senses.

The Next Major Step Is the Layout and Framing. This is a most critical step. If the layout of the first floor of a dwelling, similar to its foundation or slab is off by even a fraction of an inch, either horizontally or vertically, the rest of the structure will follow these inaccuracies exponentially to the point where nothing is square or level in the entire house. A variance of a quarter or a half of an inch, either at one end of the house or on the first floor going vertically, can result in a discrepancy of the original design that can be impossible to eradicate and will create inestimable problems at ever subsequent turn. Nothing will fit to plan and this will run into time and material overcharges that will set your schedule back and will take funding away from the rest of the project. Doors and windows and drywall or paneling won't layout onto joists, rafters and studding in the proper manner, fixtures won't fit properly and the electrical and plumbing systems will have to all be adjusted to accommodate for these errors. In some cases the errors could be unsafe to the structure it self.

Before the Framing Starts a good experienced contractor, or yourself if you are doing the actual work, should set up a fabrication area on the job site. A team of two carpenters, working on pre-cutting and fabricating all of the different elements of the house will get a lot done in a short period of time. By having one team do all of the measuring and precutting of the timber that will be used to frame out the structure will also insure consistency. Again, one or two pieces that do not fit to plan and the entire design will start to suffer.

Note: In the course of everyday you will need to survey the work in progress. Measure, and check for plumb with a level, all new elements as they are completed. Once the wall sections are in place and the outside sheathing has been applied you are too far down the road to turn back. Never neglect the seriousness of staying on schedule. You do not want to pay penalties to the mortgage lender for having gone over the budgeted time frame for you construction loan.

Once the Studs Have Been Cut (or delivered pre-cut to specific length, which is quite common if they are to be a standard length) and the headers and frames for windows have been fabricated, these elements can be assembled on the deck (floor). They are then lifted into place and braced for support until they are all tied together and interlocking. As one or two teams are doing this work another team can be on the outside of the house sheathing it.

Times Were When the Entire Structure Would Have Been Sheathed In Plywood. Now there is OSB sheathing. It is easy to handle and considerably cheaper to use. If OSB is being used make certain that the corners, and any other element that requires strength and reinforcing, is done with plywood. If you do not build in this manner the structure will not have the overall strength it needs to remain square and offer the correct support to the other elements that will tie into it. When sheathing the house make certain to sheath the entire structure, even the windows and doors. After all of the sheathing is up you will then go back and cut out the windows and doors. This will also make for a tighter fit over all and add additional strength and continuity to the building.

Wherever There Is a Doorway, Window or Opening of Any Kind (air conditioners for one) Double Up on the Studding Around It. This will offer support to whatever will be placed in the opening and it also helps to strengthen the over all structure. Every time there is an interruption to the run of the studding you will need to do this. If there is an exterior wall or interior petition that is considerably long, break the run with a reinforced studding section and cross pieces that tie it to the sections on either side of it. If yours is a multi-story design you will then repeat this process as many times as needed.

The Next Step in the House's Process Is to Wrap it Inside and Out. There is one distinct style of product for each purpose. These products will help to build a vapor barrier on the inside and a moisture barrier on the outside. Their use and application are very specific to each region and climate across America, so you will need to consult with your architect while doing the initial planning of the house to decide which is best suited to your situation and budget.

The Time Has Now Come To Raise The Roof. Most homes being built in America these days employ a trussing system for the roof. You can either fabricate them on the job site or purchase them from a lumber yard, according to your specifications. Using these ready made trusses is the best and cheapest way to complete the roof. If you have them made off site arrange to have them delivered on the day that you would install them. Most lumber yards will deliver them on a flatbed truck that has a small crane that can be used to lift them from the truck bed to the exact location on your house's top plate. All you will need do is secure them in place and brace them until the sheathing is applied. This process of trussing, when assisted by a crane, is amazingly simply, and accomplishes a lot towards the completion of the house in a very few short hours. As soon as a few of the trusses are in place, manpower permitting, you should immediately start to tack the sheathing to them. This will give it the support that it needs, add strength to the rest of the trusses as they are being installed, and it closes up the house from the elements.

Note: Trusses, by nature of their design, are light weight yet strong. Their span rests on the outside walls of the house and allows for any style layout of the petitions beneath, either during constructing or in the future during a renovation

Garages, Porches, Balconies and Peripheral Elements will also have needed to have been constructed to the same extent as the rest of the house at this point. If the garage is attached to the house the roof trussing and breezeway will be built in a similar fashion as the main sections of the house. Porches will have needed to have been tied into the building either at the foundation or as an extension off the floors above. Canter levering the balconies is done while placing the rafters/joists for the additional floors of the house, if it is multi-storied design. If you live in a colder region of the United States considerations for the fireplace and chimney would have already been implemented, too.

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