Framing with Energy in Mind – We’re Still Missing the Boat!
There’s a raised ranch house going up next door to my house in Plainville, CT. The 7-man framing crew finished their work today, so I snuck over after work to peek at the quality of their work. I watched these guys as they worked, and they were efficient and hard-working. The quality of work and final look of the frame was pretty solid, telling me that they’re not a fly-by-night crew of Bubbas. But it bummed me out to see that they weren’t thinking very progressively or operating with a full knowledge of their profession.
Bump outs need weatherization, too
The housewrap was rolled out smooth, fastened well enough (staples were used instead of cap fasteners, but I’ll cut em some slack on that…), and the joints were lapped appropriately. BUT, they forgot the bottom of the bump outs and didn’t run the wrap all the way up to the top plate of the second floor.
These two areas make it pretty obvious that the framers don’t really understand what a weather-resistive barrier (WRB) is designed to do. It’s not just for keeping out water, but air, too. How does heat move? On air. Wrap it up fully, please. Also, don’t forget to add blocking and adequate insulation to the underside of those bumpouts. Those spots are going to be mighty cold otherwise.
For more information on this, read “Making Sense of Housewraps“
2x6s are great, but take advantage of their extra strength
I think framing walls with 2x6s instead of 2x4s is a great idea. It leaves far more room for valuable wall insulation, something that will become more crucial when the 2009 version of the International Residential Code is adopted.
But if you’re going to frame with 2x6s, why not take advantage of their extra strength and space your studs 24 inches on center instead of 16 inches on center? While you’re at it, replace the OSB sheathing with an inch of rigid foam.
Don’t think it’s worth the trouble? Well case studies have proven that those two improvements will reduce your lumber bill by around $2,000 for a 2,000 square foot house and drop heating/cooling costs by around 30%.
That’s more money in your pocket and more insulation in your customer’s wall. Just make sure that if you start with 2x6s, you do the whole job with 2x6s…don’t cheat to save space like they did on the side of the bumpouts shown in the photo at right.
For more information on this, read “The Future of Framing is Here“
The sun offers free heat in cold climates. Use it.
This south-facing wall would make a lot of sense in a really hot climate like Texas. Too bad it’s in Connecticut, a heating climate for at least 6 months out of the year.
Other than being architecturally horrific, this wall is missing out on some free energy. Flip your floorplan so that the bedrooms and living room are on this side and the unconditioned garage is on the North side, where heat isn’t beneficial.
Design it right, and the same south-facing wall will keep the hot summer sun out, too.
For more information on this, read “Drawing Board: Designing Sunscreens“