Advanced House Framing

Advanced house framing, sometimes called optimum value engineering (OVE), refers to framing techniques designed to reduce the amount of lumber used and waste generated in the construction of a wood-framed house. These techniques boost energy efficiency by replacing lumber with insulation material while maintaining the structural integrity of the home. Advanced framing improves the whole-wall R-value by reducing thermal bridging (thermal flow that occurs when materials that are poor insulators displace insulation) through the framing and maximizing the insulated wall area.

Advanced framing techniques include:

  • Designing on two-foot modules to make the best use of common sheet sizes and reduce waste and labor.
  • Spacing wall studs up to 24 inches on center.
  • Spacing floor joists and roof rafters up to 24 inches on center.
  • Using two-stud corner framing and inexpensive drywall clips or scrap lumber for drywall backing instead of studs.
  • Eliminating headers in non-load-bearing walls.
  • Using in-line framing in which floor, wall, and roof framing members are vertically in line with one another and loads are transferred directly downward.
  • Using single lumber headers and top plates when appropriate.

This approach results in a structurally sound home with lower material and labor costs than a conventionally framed house. Advanced framing techniques can be implemented individually or as a complete package. Fully implementing advanced framing techniques can result in materials cost savings of up to $500 or $1,000 (for a 1,200- and 2,400-square-foot house, respectively), labor cost savings of between 3% and 5%, and annual heating and cooling cost savings of up to 5%.

Check with local building officials early in the design process to ensure that advanced framing techniques meet wind, seismic, and other codes in your area. Also, choose a contractor familiar with this approach. Otherwise, the framing carpenters’ learning process may slow down your job.

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