In his 2005 Fine Homebuilding article “The Future of Framing is Here,” Building Science Corporation principal, Joe Lstiburek, as a representative of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program, shared an ambitious goal. “Our target is an affordable ‘net-zero’ house (one that produces as much energy as it consumes) built by production builders at no extra cost,” he wrote. The key to reaching that goal was in the building envelope, Lstiburek continued, and the “future” had been a long time coming.
Lstiburek’s article describes advanced framing, or optimum value engineering (OVE), a concept that was being developed and promoted as early as the 1970s by the National Association of Home Builder’s Research Center, (today, the Home Innovations Research Lab). Advanced framing techniques reduce the amount of lumber in building assemblies to achieve three goals: less resource consumption, lower costs, and more room for insulation.
The article was my introduction to advanced framing and I can remember thinking, “What’s not to like?” With Lstiburek’s article in the rear view, and as Fine Homebuilding and GBA went on to feature articles on alternative framing techniques—some of which seemed to use more lumber and cost more money—as well as houses that simply overlooked advanced framing altogether, that question kept coming to back to me. So, I recently asked it of some regular contributors who responded collectively: “Not much!” I was happy to learn that many of them, mostly custom builders, are using advanced framing techniques to the degree that it makes sense in a given project. I’ll share what I learned in those interviews, but first, let’s review how advanced framing works.
Advanced framing means less lumber
At the heart of advanced framing, and the detail that seems to be most commonly used…
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