Build Your Own House

Carpentry Contractor - House Framing

Summary: Framing the house or rough carpentry is the carpenter labor required to build the house to a weather tight stage. Now construction can continue without worrying about the weather.

Carpentry framing (also called rough framing) is the labor required to bring the house to the dry-in stage. After this stage is completed, all other stages can commence some simultaneously. The best way to contract for this job is by the square foot. Be sure the square footage is agreed to before you accept a carpentry bid or at least before you start construction. Five people will arrive at five different square footage totals, using the same set of plans. Some will vary by 300 square feet or more. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But I swear that it’s true.

In determining the square footage, houses are measured from outside wall to outside wall, not from roof overhangs. If the house is not easily divided into rectangles for simplifying square footage determination and you can’t figure it out, have the designer do it for you. Ready-made plans generally come with the square footage broken down for you. Use those figures.

Photos - Basement partition walls, if any, and first floor framing.

Finding a good carpentry crew is perhaps the most important step in building your own home, and maybe even in helping you make the decision to do so. Also known as a framing contractor or framer, the carpenter, along with his crew, is your key subcontractor. An experienced, reliable carpenter, hired at the beginning of the home building process, will help you make many intelligent decisions and will help your local lender make a decision to lend you money.

Photo - First floor sub floor.

A personal visit to a few lumberyards or building supply houses (especially smaller, locally based ones) to ask for recommendations will give you plenty of leads to find a good carpentry crew. If not, visit a few job sites where quality CUSTOM homes are being built. You may have to drive a bit. It may take some time. This is how we General Contractors find good carpenters.

Photo - First floor partition walls.

If the first carpenter you find is too busy, ask him to recommend another. But usually another house can be worked into the first carpenter’s schedule, and it is worth waiting for a good crew. Your carpenter will be one of your best sources for finding many of your other subcontractors. After selecting a good candidate for this job, but before hiring him, check him out. He should give you a list of four or five jobs he’s handled. Talk to the owners and/or look at the work he did for them. Other sources to check for references with are building suppliers that have dealt with him.

Photo - First floor exterior walls and sheeting are built.
Most experienced carpenters have a thorough knowledge of most phases of construction. These job-site veterans are experts on getting a house framed up and closed in quickly (dried in), with all doorways, stairways, and window openings sized and located correctly. A good carpenter may be hard to find and hard to get, but is always worth waiting for. He may cost you a bit more up front, but in the long run will save you money and time.

Photos - Roof framing roof framing allows for expandable space in the attic area as opposed to when roof trusses are used.

If you have a good carpenter, this is the end of this section of framing. And if that sounds too simple, wait and see. You need only order the lumber, the windows, and the exterior doors, and in two or three weeks you'll have a house (or at least something that looks like a house). Drying-in, which means making the house secure from rain, is the immediate goal for your carpentry crew. Rain or snow during framing is not desirable, but it seldom does much damage beyond an occasional warped piece of lumber. But once the house is dried-in, the work inside can progress regardless of the weather if windows and doors are in place.

You will want to check with your carpenter about any problems with building materials. Because it is impossible to estimate exact needs in materials, some ordering will have to be done during the course of construction. You could give your carpenter permission to order building materials that he needs and then tell the supply house what you have given him permission, but to keep you informed. The decision is up to you. I do it.

When the house framing is completed, order kitchen cabinets, bookcases, and bathroom vanity cabinets, if there any. The correct space for them can now be measured on the job by the cabinet sales representative. This is far more accurate than measuring from your blueprints (house plans).

Roof trusses if used, instead of roof framing.

Roof sheeting and black paper (called "felt") applied.

Windows & exterior doors are installed and now the house is "dried in" (weather tight).

How not to have lumber delivered. Call the lumber yard and have THEM straighten out this mess.

The right way to have lumber delivered.

Carl Heldmann

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