Carpenters love wood. The smell of fresh sawdust on a crisp fall morning, the slap and ring of hammers on boards, the sturdy feel of a new house frame—what's not to love?
So it's no surprise that when we set out to frame a home, sometimes we use a little more lumber than we really need. Sometimes we use a lot more. And sometimes, as building scientist Joe Lstiburek puts it, framers use wood like drunken sailors spending their paychecks on shore leave.
But wood isn't free, or even cheap. It has a cost in dollars, in forested acres logged, and in natural ecosystems disrupted. Over-framed walls also leak more energy—enough to show up on fuel bills, and to make a difference in comfort. And there's a labor cost: more sticks to handle, more cuts to make, and more nails to pound.
Other things being equal, economizing on framing lumber makes a lot of sense. For builders willing to learn, there are proven ways to cut back on unnecessary framing lumber use, without compromising structural strength—and while saving energy.BUILDER EVOLUTION
Around the country, a handful of leading builders are fine-tuning their building shells to save both lumber and energy. For companies such as New Town Builders of Denver and Veridian Homes of Madison, Wis., advanced framing is just one part of a larger concept.
ENOUGH ALREADY: If framing details aren't spelled out, framers may run amok, observes building scientist Joseph Lstiburek.
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