Step 6 - Fun Stuff ... Framing

   Yeah, I could have saved a lot of time by hiring a helper for the framing too, but I wanted to save all the fun for myself.  Framing is fun.  If you don't think so, you probably shouldn't be trying to build a house.  Still, you can more than double your productivity by hiring a good helper, even if just for a few hours a week.

   Save time framing by having all your roof trusses, rough-ins for doors and windows, and even your 'L's and 'T's for corners and wall intersections made up ahead of time.

   Looking back, I really don't know why I waited so long to spend a few hundred dollars to get an air nailer.  Yep, everything you see here was done with one hammer, one skill saw, one old table saw, and maybe a cheap drill from time to time.

  For large spans of a roof or to support upper floors, you will need strong beams.  You can have beams engineered for your home design, but you will probably need a full architectural drawing for them to work off of.  I designed my own beams.  The beams described below are very sturdy and there is no bouncy feeling when you walk across the second floor.

   I used 2x12 lumber to create a beam to span 20' and support 2x12 joists that spanned 12'.  The corrugated steel that is sandwiched in the middle of the 2x12 lumber is what gives it good stiffness.  Order standard corrugated steel to be the exact length of your beam, and then rip each sheet down to 11 - 11.25".  The longer your span, the more steel you need.  I used 10 full length strips and then 10 more 10' strips in the middle of the beam ( the middle of a beam is where the greatest bending loads are ).  When running the joists, you may have to use shims to get them to match height with the top of the main beam.

   For stairs, you can buy precut steps.  When you nail them to the walls, be sure nail a 1x12" spacer board along each wall first.  The idea is to create a gap between the wall and the steps so the drywall can be cut diagonally and slipped behind the jig-jag pattern of the steps.  Be sure to screw down the steps and risers and the decking for your second floor.  It's slower and more expensive, but worth it for not having a squeaky floor in a few years.

  Geeeze, framing by yourself is slow.

   Sheathing the frame is fairly straight forward.  Run the sheets horizontally around the house, and be sure to line your blocking (short 2x4s that run horizontally between the studs in the walls) up with the horizontal seems of your sheathing.  Much strength is gained by having the seems of the sheathing nailed into that blocking.  For any area of the wall that is under anything that attaches to the outside wall (like a deck, or porch roof ) use treated plywood for the sheathing.  It's just an area that is likely to be exposed to moisture someday.

   When all the walls are done, it's time to put up the roof trusses.  Practice on the ground when you make your first set of trusses.  I carried mine up the stairs, half truss at a time, folded them together and attached them in the middle.  Of course you could buy the trusses and use a crane to lift them into place.   If you do have an all truss roof, be careful to design some of them to allow a place to put the HVAC unit.

  I loved my redneck man-lift:

   For the facer, use treated 2x6 boards all the way around that outside edge of the roof.  If you go with a metal roof, use treated 2x4's to make your first run of purling.  Then it's easy to use a 1x8 cedar to trim out your facer, and it will last for many years.

   Don't skimp on outdoor decks.   Thick walled 6" steel pipe make great vertical supports, but have your welder put a cap on each end so that moisture can never get inside.

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