Monthly Archives: April 2013

Getting started on our house

We are getting started.

It has been a few days since I have written a post. They have been busy days.

getting started

Our temporary home

We moved our motor home to our site and have set it up for the summer. This was a bit of an adventure in itself. We suffered a breakdown about halfway here, and we were forced to get a tow for the last portion of the trip.

Not as simple as it sounds. It is not possible to tow these units in the conventional sense. They have to be loaded onto a tractor trailer unit, and hauled, with all wheels up.

Fortunately we had an Alberta Motor Association membership. They arranged for the tow, and paid all the costs. We only had a two hour wait, which is pretty good, considering it was a Sunday. It is really worthwhile to belong to this organization, if you drive these big units. Towing costs are very high.

Living on site is almost like visiting a campground, but we have more privacy, and the cost is lower. We are quite comfortable.

Progress, as always, is slow for the first stages of our build, but we are getting started. In the last week, we received approval for the required sewer extension, but have not yet received our development permit. Alberta first call has been contacted by our excavation contractor, and some companies have already marked the underground services in the area. Installation of the sewer and water services, and the crawl space excavation, should be able to proceed as soon as the development permit is received.

The development permit is also required to apply for building permits. I am going to spend this weekend reviewing these applications, and double checking the material lists. That is, as soon as I get our income tax filed. Only a few days left for that.

I have staked out the location for the excavation, and marked where the water/sewer connections are required. I also determined the depth of the excavation, and determined the elevation point, so we should be ready to go.

There is still snow in spots, but it is disappearing rapidly. There does not seem to be any significant frost in the ground to interfere with digging. This is the result of an early, and heavy, snow cover, coupled with relatively mild winter temperatures. Of course it is a very late spring. We had our first day yesterday where a coat or jacket was not required when outside.

Our next steps will to be apply for building permits and to get framing package quotes.

Once the excavation is done I can form up the footings for the foundation walls. Extreme care needs to be taken at this point. It is good to have an almost perfectly level footing ( within ¼ inch tolerances overall). It also needs to be close to square, so that the same tolerances can be maintained for square. on the foundation wall. The closer to perfect here, the easier everything will work as we go forward.

anchor for getting started

Anchor bolts

I am planning on a two foot wide strip footing, as I believe that it will be placed on sand, and will require a little wider footprint for stability. A single story wood frame building, with a preserved wood foundation, does not exert a lot of weight, so I believe this will be more than adequate. It will be reinforced with three rows of steel. The steel provides little protection against uneven settling but does prevent separation and spreading if the footing should break. I don’t believe this is likely, but always better to overbuild if the cost is not high.

I have decided to secure the foundation to the footing with ½ inch expanding anchor bolts. It is a little easier to keep everything straight with this method. It is a little slower, as a hole must be drilled in the concrete for each anchor.

As usual, the initial steps for a project and getting started is the most time consuming. It is, however, happening, and I will keep you posted

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Landscaping for beauty and utility

Landscaping, while I am no expert, is something I thoroughly enjoy.

Cat Among the Pigeons at Great Dixter!
antonychammond / Cat Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

I find gardening, and maintaining a yard, relaxing and good exercise. The results are usually very satisfying.

Many properties today, seem to use very similar landscaping efforts. Often, the yard will consist of nothing more than an expanse of grass with one or two shrubs or trees in the front, with the rest being concrete or asphalt. Of course, if you require parking for several vehicles, you may not have a lot of room left.

Checkered garden in Tours, France
A formal / GNU Free Documentation License

Many people seem to see landscaping as a well maintained lawn, with an ornament or two , and perhaps a little lighting. I prefer to see a lawn, as well as walks, as just part of a garden. Of course, a garden requires a little more care than a square of lawn, but I believe it pays good dividends in enjoyment and property value. To get a good effect for your efforts, careful planning is essential. It is necessary to project your plan into the future, and try to foresee the appearance of trees and shrubs as they mature. Try to envision the appearance of your garden in different seasons. Trees shrubs and perennials will provide a somewhat different look each year, and if well planned, will improve with age.

Striped Tiger [Explored]
Ajith (അജിത്ത്) / / CC BY-ND

A garden can be formal, consisting of mostly straight and well defined borders and beds. Colors, foliage and plants of different heights will be grouped in well defined areas. An informal garden, on the other hand, will be less well defined, and will contain many irregular shapes. Colors and textures may be mixed in seemingly natural patterns. A good result is still the reward of careful planning, though. It is possible to mix the two styles if done with care.

Pathways, walks and driveways can add a pleasing effect, if done with something other than plain concrete or asphalt. It could be something as simple as coloring the concrete and adding a stamped pattern.

There are several decisions to be made prior to beginning detailed planning.

Do you want to include a vegetable garden? It is inexpensive to buy fresh produce, but nothing compares to peas, young carrots or new potatoes, fresh from your own garden.

Do you want to use your garden for outdoor entertaining?

Do you want your landscaping to provide privacy to your outdoor living area?

Consider the purpose of the trees that you will be planting. Do you want purely decorative trees, or do you want shade, windbreaks or fruit?

It is my belief that the value of trees in creating pleasant micro climates is underestimated. They can cool the area under them considerably in summer, or they can give protection from cold winter winds. A cool drink in the shade of a tree, on a hot day, is pure bliss. Deciduous trees to the south of your house, can give you summer shade, while not blocking too much sun in winter. Trees for blocking winter winds should be evergreens that do not drop their leaves.

Hummingbird Portrait 7
fkowers attract hummingbirdsDanny Perez Photography / Flowers Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

I really like fruit trees ,and berry bushes, instead of purely ornamental trees and shrubs. They are beautiful when in bloom and they provide food for yourself and for birds. Even in our northern climate there are many varieties of fruit that can be grown successfully. Berry bushes can provide for many pies, or jams and jellies. We even make our own pancake syrup.

Perennial plants and flowers can provide beauty, without undo work. They do take a little time to establish, but can usually be inter planted with annuals for the first year or two. Most perennials do not bloom throughout the summer, so you will need to intermix varieties with different blooming periods, for continuous color. Choose varieties with interesting foliage for when they are not in bloom. Day lilies are one that have long bloom periods and attractive leaves. Use care to choose varieties suited to the location they will be used in. There are many micro climates within most garden areas.

Hanging baskets of annuals are very attractive but require a great deal of attention. If you don’t mind the cost, you can purchase them in full bloom, and ready for display.

Water features or fish ponds add another element. The sound of running water can be very pleasant. Birds may be attracted to the water.

Tree - leaf canopy
The luxury of shadeblmiers2 / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

Any area with trees and bushes for cover, and with food available, will attract birds. This may be one of your landscaping goals. You could provide a few safe nesting sites.

You may need fencing for some reason, but there is no reason why it has to be unattractive. You have the choice of building an attractive fence, or you can screen it with plants and shrubs. Often, just a few shrubs to break the monotonous line of a fence, can improve the look. Trees, or bushes, can also be used to frame a feature of your house. You can use climbing plants to screen fences or blank walls.

Tombstone squirrel
Trees attract wildlifeTjflex2 / Flowers Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

Some food plants, such as rhubarb or chives, can make an interesting addition to your yard.

To get the most from your garden, utilize lighting to extend it’s beauty into the night, or for evening entertaining.

Appearance is, of course, a major consideration when planning your yard and garden. Some of the other things to consider are, privacy, shade, protection from wind, use for entertaining, an environment attractive to birds and butterflies, and of course the time and effort required to maintain it.

Trees and plants withdraw carbon dioxide from the atmophere during the growing season. Trees store carbon in the fom of wood. Other plants store a bit as black dirt, if composted, or just worked into the soil. You may slow global warming just a bit with your gardening.

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A house for less than 100000 dollars


Can you build a house for less than 100000 dollars? Yes, it is possible. In fact, you may be able to build for much less than that.

There are many designs available, or you can use your own design, that can be built very inexpensively. Here is how.

I am going to use a hypothetical location typical of a small town in central Alberta. You may be able to do much better.

a house for less than 100000The first requirement is land.

. Property values are quite low in many areas. For this discussion, we will include a value for the land, which may or may not be applicable to your area or situation. In my area, you can buy a single lot of 5000-6000 sq. ft. (465-557 sq. meters). for 25,000 or less. Sometimes much less. Two serviced lots, near where I live, were recently sold by closed tender, for under 5000 each. In some cases it just takes a little luck. I will start with a land cost of 20,000.

To keep keep cost down, services need to be along your property boundaries. In many subdivisions, water and sewer are located under the street in front of your property. Material. labor and equipment cost, to bring it to the house, should be less than 3,000. I will use 2,000.

There are several ways to build a house for less than 100000

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Natural gas, electricity, and telephone are usually available from the alley. Bringing them to the house should cost less than 1,500. I will use 1,500. I am going to assume that the property does not need undue shaping, or leveling, before you are able to build. Twenty four hours with a skid steer at 75 dollars should do the leveling, excavation, and back filling. Total cost, 1,800.

Hey, we haven’t even started, and we have already spent over 25000, you are thinking.

Land cost, services and preparation is a significant portion of the cost of a house, and one over which you have little control, other than the choice of location. There are a few areas where you can effect savings. Perhaps you could rent equipment and do your own excavating and site prep. Maybe a plumber friend could help you run the water and sewer services.

Now you need your permits. Cost for these can vary enormously, depending on many factors, but permits have cost me less than 1,500 on my last couple of house builds. It might be a little optimistic but I am going to use 1,500.

you can build a house for less than 100000 using locally sourced material

Using locally sourced material

It is time to build. We know that to build a house cheaply, we must use simple and efficient design. The house will be rectangular with a gable roof. Patios, decks and landscaping will be left for when we have a little more cash available. We will look for the best for the least, but will try to build so that future operating costs are as low as possible.

In many areas, building on a concrete slab will have the lowest foundation cost. In others, a preserved wood stem wall will be the least costly. In my area there is not a lot of difference in cost, but PWF might win if you are doing your own labor.

We want a comfortably sized house, so I have settled on a two bedroom ranch style of about 1000 sq. ft. (93 sq.meters) for this example.  Many people would be happy with less than this.

We will try to plan the house for ease of future expansion. This means planning the house with the extra additions included, and then removing them. Possible additions would include an attached garage, bedrooms and bathroom.

Although this could vary, depending on location, my recent experience is that material costs for this type of house will be about 50 dollars per sq. ft.. Our 1000 sq. ft. house will have a material cost of about 50,000 including all plumbing, electrical and mechanical. This should allow for upgraded shingles, colored vinyl siding, extra insulation and perhaps an extra bathroom. Cabinets will not be the cheapest but will be in the lower range. Windows and doors will have to be in the mid to low cost range. There should be room in this for a few frills, such as shutters, for appearance. It should allow for a high efficiency furnace and water heater. If your main goal is economy, you can probably lower this cost considerably.

To build a house for less than 100000 it is necessary to do considerable work yourself

Working on your house

I am, of course, assuming that you will be doing almost all the work yourself, without resorting to trades people. I am also going to assume that you will need to hire some help, just to stay on a schedule. Although it is more than I usually require, I will allow for 2 laborers for 12 weeks at 40 hrs. per week and pay them 20 dollars per hour. Remember, this is Alberta. Our labor costs are quite high. There goes another 19000.

There are a few more costs, which would include insurance, interest on interim financing, property taxes while building, deposits on services, and material for a driveway and walk (Just gravel for now). The 4000 we have left from our 100,000 should cover that nicely.

This little exercise has left us with a house that has a cost of about our target of a house for less than 100000.

Could we build for even less? The answer is an emphatic, yes.

We have included the cost of the land, which is not really part of your house building costs. It does, however, contribute to what money you have available. You may already have the land, or you may find a less expensive location. We have assumed an easily serviced property, but the costs could be more, or less. Perhaps you will be replacing a mobile home, or something similar, and the required services will already be there and usable. These scenarios could lower the cost by as much as 25,000.

Wise buying choices.

Planning for savings

You might have the time, and the inclination, to do practically all the work yourself. Savings could be up to the 20,000 allowed for labor.

You could go the cheapest possible on material and equipment and save 20% or more. There is another 10,000.

You could build smaller and realize a proportionate saving on material.

It is theoretically possible that you could end up with a livable house for as little as 40,000, if you already have the land. Even less, if you are fanatical about it.

It may seem crazy to try to build a house for under 100000

Not so crazy ideas

About now you are probably thinking, “this guy is a total loony.” Well, you don’t have to be crazy to build a house on your own, but it helps. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work, and perseverance, and I am not putting any monetary value on that. If you have a career paying a couple of hundred thousand per year, you would be a damn fool to take time off to build your house. It is for someone like me, who would not be doing anything else of value, or would be building for someone else anyway. The advantage is, I do not have to pay any taxes on the money saved building my own house.There are other little perks as well but they are a good subject for another article.

As an example, I built my current house in 2006, and the cost was less than 100000. This was just under 1,800 sq. ft. including the attached garage. It included two full baths and the garage is fully heated. The high efficiency furnace and demand water heater were considerably more costly than they are today (the water heater alone was 2,500 with out fittings or vent). I used shingles rated for 30 years which were more costly at the time. The windows were all awning or casement for less leakage. My backyard fence was included. A jet tub and a one piece 4 ft. shower was installed instead of cheap tubs. All the appliances including a freezer and central vacuum were paid for. I used 2 helpers for two months at 15.00 per hour. The cost of land was included but, I had purchased the lot for only 5,000. Cabinets were purchased ready to assemble, inexpensive, but not the cheapest available. My actual material cost was about 65,000. The only things left to do when I quit counting was the driveway, walks, deck and landscaping. I even managed to pay myself a modest 1,500 dollars per month for the 5 months it took me to complete the project.

We moved in 3 months after I did the excavation.

There is no doubt about my accounting since 100,000 was all I had, and I did not borrow any money.

From what I can tell, the costs today, are not substantially different. In some areas, they may in fact be lower. Alberta is not known for low construction costs. I expect my current build to cost about 85,000, including land.

I have now nearly completed my new house. For a look at costs follow this link

To build a house for less than 100000 rquires bargain hunting

Bargain hunting

Of course, I have had a lot more time to shop for bargains.

I hope this makes you a little less hesitant about starting on your own project.

One thing to remember, everything depends on careful preparation and diligent planning. If you take enough time to do this well, the rest will be easy.

Take the time to explore this site.There are many money saving ideas and alternate solutions to some costs.

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Moving, an argument for staying put

Moving, a word that strikes fear in the heart of any sensible couple. Hard labor, exhaustion and conflict is what you can look forward to. We started a week ago, and are down to our last couple of loads. We are still married, and still healthy, but getting a little tired. We are a little old for this.


No, not my truck, but close.

We decided to move with our own little truck, as it is only a 100 mile (161 km) round trip. Turned out to be more loads than anticipated though, and we still have a couple to go.

It is mid April in Alberta, and it is snowing and blowing. The temperature is hovering just below freezing, and the highways are probably a dangerous mess. It is 6:30 A.M., and having looked out the window, I am trying to decide how risky a trip would be this morning. Probably won’t have much traffic to contend with. The joys of moving.

The reason for using our own truck is primarily economics. Total cost will be about a $150. for gasoline. This is a major saving over hiring a moving company, or even over renting a large truck. Renting a trailer would have been less expensive option, but my little truck can only pull a small one, and there is no place near to get one. The weather right now, though, makes me wish it was someone else’s problem.

Of course, our house is not built yet, so the furniture is going into storage in the garage on our lot. There is barely wiggle room in there now.

This week I met with the contractor who will doing our excavation, and water and sewer connection. There was still a lot of snow on our location, so I had it pushed off to speed drying. I guess I could say we have officially started our build.

Our tenants are moving in this weekend, and we will be off to get our RV. I hope this weather improves soon. RV living is just not as attractive with snow on the ground. Might be a good time to visit some relatives.

A shortage of time is forcing me to shut up, and be satisfied with a short post this time. It takes a lot to shut me up, but running out of time, or a bloody nose, will do it.

Until next time.

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Conserve cash and get ready to build your house

To conserve cash, and to maintain a healthy cash flow, is critical to bringing a construction project in on budget.

Developing a budget for a new home

Our own situation is likely somewhat unique, but other owner builders should be able to get some ideas applicable to their own situation.

conserve cash by living on site

This will be our home for awhile

We were not able to sell our current house, so we have rented it in order to cover the expenses of ownership. This frees a little more cash for building. Not selling our house has reduced the money available for building, but in our case, not critically. Sometimes it is good to be retired, and have a regular fixed income.

Renting your house can conserve cash

This is the house we rented out

The weather is getting better everyday. It will soon be time to get down to the nitty gritty of construction. There is still a lot of snow on our property, but it should be clear in a week or so. Possession date on our house is the end of next week, so we are packing up.

To conserve cash, we have decided to live in our motor home while we are building. We have electricity and, perhaps we can get water from our neighbors until our own is dug in. We will have to rely on our cell phones for now. We already have mobile internet, so we are well equipped. Living on site will save considerable on travel expenses. We are hoping the weather will warm enough that moving into the RV will not be too uncomfortable. If necessary we can move to a motel for a bit, but that uses up cash.

We are lucky to have a ready built garage on our site. That should give us enough storage, barely. It is already half full with construction supplies. On site storage is very convenient, and I would advise anyone to build your garage or storage shed first. If none is planned, an alternative is to rent a container for a few months. If you do not have your own truck, or utility trailer, you may need to rent a waste container for construction debris. Remember to budget for these incidentals.

An inside view of the motor home

An inside view of the motor home

Our RV is an older motor home. It had broken down on us a couple of years ago, and because we were just leaving for the winter, we bought another. Our plan was to fix the older one and sell it. Our plan didn’t work, so we sold the newer one instead. The older one is very nice and comfortable. It is just not quite so roomy. We will be setting it up, more or less permanently, for the summer.

The foregoing illustrates that it is always necessary to have back up plans for when things don’t happen exactly as you like. Luckily for us, the backup plans worked. Things could have got a little tight if none of them had.

sold this motor home to conserve cash

This is our building lots as of three weeks ago, We sold this RV.

We have still not received our development permit. It is needed before we can apply for building permits. With a little luck, it will arrive soon, as time is starting to get a little short. Delay, however, often seems to be a normal part of the process, so it is wise not to be too impatient.

Since we are not using any financing, and there are no other critical reasons for hurry, this will not have a negative effect on cash flow. It will give us time to think of other ways to conserve cash.

When we have our development permit, the next step is to dig in the water and sewer services, and to do the excavation. The contractor we chose for this had promised to come and have a look about a week ago. As I said, delay is normal. I guess I will have to call him again.

I have heard it said that patience is a virtue. In this process it is absolutely essential.

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Systems make a house work

Your home is a system in itself, but there are several other systems that are an integral part of the whole.

These include, but may not be limited to an electrical system, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, communications and security. Each has to be considered, and planned for, when you build your new home. The overall building envelope is a system as well, although a passive one.

The electrical system is perhaps the most important to the functioning of your home.

electric system
K.G.Photos / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

Virtually none of the other active systems can operate without it. When planning your electrical system, you must consider all the other systems that will rely on it. One of the first steps is to determine the load you will be placing on it. This link will take you to a table showing the typical demand of common household equipment. Remember, that not every item will be in service at the same time. A cabin or outbuilding may get by on a 60 or 70 amp service rating. Allow for at least 30 circuits. With a small house a 100 amp service is probably adequate. Large houses will need at least a 200 amp service. Local codes may not allow the lowest ratings in a house.

Most of your circuits will be 15 amp at 120 volts. Some higher amperage and voltage circuits may be required for kitchens, heating appliances, ranges and dryers. Most codes now require arc fault beakers in circuits that include bedroom receptacles. These are expensive, so plan your bedroom wiring to minimize the number you will need.

transportation and electric systems
kevin dooley / Car Photos / CC BY

When planning, do not forget to allow for extra plugs for office or computer areas. Allow for service to air conditioners, furnaces, ventilators, and exhaust fans. Don’t forget your sump pump. If you are installing a hot water circulating pump it will require electricity. You might want to provide a plug for an electric welder in your garage.

Codes may only require one outlet in a garage, but I find this a little ridiculous. I usually plan for many more. Wire for garage door openers, even if you do not plan to install them immediately. Under eave plugs are handy for Christmas lights.

Codes often call for only one outdoor plug, but I think you will appreciate more, one at the back as well as one at the front. Larger houses should have more. Only the one needs to have a separate circuit, but all need to be GFIC. Don’t ignore the deck or patio area. Plan for sub services that may be needed, such as for a detached garage or other outbuilding. Allow for your security system.

Wiring for low voltage applications, such as door bells and thermostats, needs to be planned. If you are off grid, or planning to supplement your electricity usage with solar or wind, things become considerably more complicated and beyond the scope of this article.

Electrical wiring diagrams and explanations. link

communication system
Helga Weber / / CC BY-ND

Your communication systems need wiring as well. Plan possible satellite dish locations, land line connections, and possible radio antennae. Once again, don’t neglect office, entertainment or computer areas. Doubled runs of both category 5 telephone cable, and the best quality co-ax cable is a good practice. It is best if each run originates in a distribution box, similar to your electrical wiring. Perhaps you will want speaker wiring to different parts of your house or to the patio.

Security systems can be done by wireless, but permanent wiring is a little more dependable, and requires less maintenance. You may need low voltage wiring, a house wiring connection and video cable. Plan the location of surveillance cameras, motion detectors, monitors and telephone connections. Be certain that control panels will not be visible from windows.

Plumbing systems brings you fresh water and removes waste water. While not as complex as your electrical wiring, the possible designs are not quite as flexible. Getting the water to your various appliances and fixtures is fairly straight forward. For the most part you simply have to get it there in sufficient quantity to do the job. There are two sides, the hot water and the cold. Decide if you wish to use a circulation system on your hot water. Familiarize yourself with the codes pertaining to hot water safety.

plumbing system
Pixelicus / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

Your main plumbing runs will be ¾ inch pipe to start and reducing to ½ inch. A good method is to use a ¾ inch manifolds and run ½ to each application. Don’t run ¾ to far from your water heater, if it isn’t part of a circulation system, or it will take too much time to get hot water to the application. This wastes water and energy.

Plan for a cold connection to your refrigerator and toilets, and a hot one to the dishwasher. Pex or copper piping is commonly used today. Sizes are inside diameter. Metric conversions are 13mm and 19 mm for ½ and ¾ inch respectively.

Don’t skimp on valves to isolate applications or components of your system. They make repairs and replacements much easier and less disrupting.

Waste water installations must follow rules of physics as well as health and safety regulations. All connections require traps and venting to prevent sewer gases from entering the house. Plan for clean outs at the bottom of each vent stack and at 90 degree turns. Special methods are needed to vent a sink or dishwasher located in an island cabinet. Provide for drains on high efficiency furnaces and air conditioner coils.

Codes may require a device to prevent back flow where the sewer exits the house. It is a good idea in any case.

For wastewater, ABS or PVC pipe is commonly used in sizes from 1.25 to 4 inches (32 mm to100 mm).

Many jurisdictions will not allow a sump pump connection to the waste water system. A provision will have to be made to connect to a storm sewer or to daylight.

Plumbing basics link

ventilation system
reinvented / / CC BY-NC-SA

I have covered heating systems in a previous article that I have linked to here. Plan the locations of your warm air vent and the cold air returns for the best distribution pattern if using a forced air system.

Modern tightly sealed houses require ventilation for maintaining air quality, and for humidity control in many climates. Heat recovery ventilators can be a good investment in cold climates. Allow for the locations of vents, ducting, and for the ventilator itself. Exhaust fans will be required in the kitchen and bathrooms to vent excess moisture and odors.

How to get the ventilation you need in your house. link

There are minimum clearances required between exterior terminations and service connections as well as between outlets and inlets.

If you do not use forced air heating, then you may need ducting for air conditioning. A ductless mini-split system is an alternative, but allowances may have to be made for drains.

I have only briefly covered the active systems in a house in this article. It is primarily meant as an aid to planning, but I will try to get into more detailed discussions of each system in future posts.

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Framing tips and techniques

Some degree of framing is required for every house

There are different methods of wood framing.  Balloon framing is rarely used today. We will not enter into detail, but the link is provided if you are interested. Post and beam construction is another alternative not often used in residential buildings. The method of choice for most residential projects today is platform framing.

Framing is a large subject and I will have to rely on links a great deal. I am including the best and easiest to understand that I could find. I may add more in the future if I accidently hit on good ones. Please Note: I do not link to commercial sites except in rare cases. The links provide valuable information or graphics. They are primarily to info sources or other blogs.

Doing your own framing is not terribly difficult, but if you do not have experience there are many places to go wrong. Consider hiring an experienced carpenter to help. This is particularily true if your house is complicated in any way.

a house in the framing stage
A house in the framing stagemugley / / CC BY-SA

Wood is commonly used for framing material in residential construction.

Wood is easily cut and fastened with ordinary tools. Strong and somewhat flexible, a wood frame house stands up well to many of the forces that may act upon it. Wood’s strength is not compromised by heat or cold. Although flammable, proper construction limits the risk from fire. If wood sheathing is used in the form of plywood or OSB, it becomes an integral part of the frame by acting as bracing. Wood is available in different grades suitable for different puposes.

Steel is sometimes used in interior walls for studs, bracing or beams. It is not flammable except at extreme temperatures and high levels of oxygen. Steel beams are very strong, and are used where long spans are desirable. Steel reinforcement is often used to achieve greater wind or siesmic resistance. If angle bracing is necessary, steel is a good choice for ease and speed. Steel interior studs can make walls that are truer and easier to finish.

Using steel studs The Family Handyman

The strength of steel decreases rapidly when heat is applied. For this reason, it is not a good choice for bearing walls in a house, as a structure may collapse quickly in a fire. Steel is also an excellent conductor, and it can create an undesirable thermal bridge if used in outside walls.

Even if the exterior walls are of a material that does not require framing, the interior walls, roof and ceiling will still need a framing system. Most builders today will use roof trusses. These provide the framing for both the ceiling and roof. No interior bearing walls will be necessary unless the structure is unusually complicated. Trusses are usually manufactured in a factory setting, so there is no point in going into detail on their framing. Trusses will need lateral bracing near the bottom or ceiling chord.

For this article, we are dealing primarily with wood framing.

Other types of walls such as straw bale construction require some framing as well, but  I have no experience. I will try to provide a link or two though. Some other types that require little framing are concrete, concrete block, log, or SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) walls.

framing material
—Framing material— / GNU Free Documentation License

soon to be framing material

It Starts With LogsSeanMack / / CC BY-SA

Wood frame exterior walls in hot or cold regions are usually 2 x 6 construction to allow for more insulation. In moderate climates, 2 x 4 construction is adequate. 2 X 4 is used for interior walls, except where extra cavity space is needed for plumbing or ventilation. For metric conversions on nominal lumber sizes use this link.

Floor framing may be with dimension lumber, or with engineered members such as trusses.

Engineered wood floor joists can speed construction and allow for longer spans. They are economical in many situations, and can compare in final cost to conventional solid wood floor framing. Floor trusses can allow even longer clear spans. Floor trusses are constucted similarly to roof trusses. Steel cross members are sometimes used. Both are worth considering for uniformity and dimensional stability.

Floor joists need to be firmed up against twisting done by installing bridging or by furring strips attached to the underside. Bridging can be steel or wood cross braces, or they can be solid wood. The second joist from the end should be laddered with the end joist. Framing a floor.

Openings for stairs need a double joist on either side and double cross joists at either end. Double stair openings should have further support underneath.

Floor joists are usually sheathed with 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood or OSB. (Oriented Strand Board). Gluing and nailing is my favorite attachment method. Use a bead of construction adhesive on each joist. Nail with an air nailer loaded with nails specifically designed for floors, or use spiral nails.

Most walls are built laying flat on the floor platform, then lifted into place. They consist of studs placed 16 inches apart with a plate on the bottom and top. 24 inch spacing may be used for stud but does not provide as much support for interior drywall. A second plate is usually added to the top after the wall is raised. This is so trusses do not need to be placed directly over a stud and to tie the walls together

If plywood or OSB is used for sheathing, no further bracing should be needed in the exterior walls. Temporary interior bracing will be needed until the roof trusses are secured and interior sheathing is complete. If foam board or gypsum board is used for exterior sheathing, steel or wood bracing will be needed. If boards are used for some reason, they should be applied on an 45 degree angle. It has been many years since I have seen that done, but occasionally some one may saw their own lumber, and may not want to use more modern materials.

Said the stud to the drywall “I shouldn’t be in here. I’m innocent. I was framed.” Said the drywall “Quit complaining, you were nailed fair and square.”

Openings for doors and windows need headers and special framing techniques Provisions needs to be made for corners, and where interior walls meet exteriors. These are easiest explained with diagrams. Follow the link for a good explanation. There is more than one acceptable method.

Always consider the crown on the dimension wood (studs, plates and joists) when framing. Face all the crowns up on floor joists. They will sag to near level. If a few are extra high, you may have to plane them a bit. It is easier to nail a wall frame together if you keep the crowns up as they are laying on the floor, they won’t be rocking on you. Keep your straightest studs for kitchens and bathrooms where you have to hang cabinets. If you have an obviously bent stud in an interior wall you may be able to straighten it by cutting a saw kerf partly through it and scabbing a scrap piece alongside. When nailing on a top plate, place the crown opposite to the one underneath. You should be able to pull them straight if you work from one end.

TJ harvesteri
Log harvester16valve / / CC BY-SA

You can save time by checking crowns ahead of time and marking with a v. Fasten the 2 bys with 3.5 inch coated nails or 3.25 with an air nailer. Length of nails for sheathing will depend on the thickness. 2 to 2.5 inch should be good, and spiral or ring nails are a good idea for sheathing, especially for the roof. Check your local codes for sizes and minimum spacings. I always put in a few extra to make up for unnoticed misses. It is sometimes hard to tell if you have hit the stud when using a nailing gun.

Caulk along the bottom plate after standing the wall. It would be better to caulk underneath, but this could make things slippery and dangerous when you stand the wall.

You can add a lot of strength against uplift if your sheathing laps over the rim joists and the top plate. If you feel this is too difficult, then use steel ties to hold things together. In some areas, this might be required by code anyway. I think steel hurricane ties should be used for trusses no matter where you are, and whether required by code or not.

Steel ties require special nails.

When laying out walls, always work from the same corner, so you will know where to find studs later, usually from left to right.

Blocking is required if a wall is over 8 feet in height.

If you are building on a slab, the bottom plate should be treated wood. A sill gasket should be added, or caulking should be applied beneath.

Felling a gumtree c1884-1917 Powerhouse Museum
The way it was doneCharles Kerry or Kerry and Co. via Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum / / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Framing a preserved wood basement or stem wall is not much different from framing the rest of the house. Extra ties may be required at windows. Blocking will also be required. Definitely check codes and manufacturers recommendations.

You should consider advanced framing techniques. By using some or all of them, you can save considerable material. These methods also make a house easier to insulate well, with less thermal bridging.

Building stairs is also part of the framing if, you are building on a basement, or have more than one story. Most houses will have at least a few steps that need to be built. Building stairs is the subject for a whole article in itself,  so I am just going to include a few links on the subject.          Alternately you can purchase stairs ready made, or ready to assemble.

Building stairs 

Stairs: the next level by Skip Thomsen

Details for conventional wood frame construction–American Wood Council

Construction glossary–Home Building Manual

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