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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: Advancements in Framing

From balloon framing to modular construction, we track the progression of building materials and methods

Photo courtesy of Alison Steele-Myers

This episode of the BS* + Beer show features guests Andy Engel, Alexandra Baczek, and Mark Wille discussing “Advancements in Framing.” We look at the industry’s progression from timber framing to balloon framing to platform framing to advanced framing, and consider related materials including panel and board sheathing, LVLs, CLT, Larsen trusses, Tstuds, and SIPs. 

Andy, the traditionalist among us, shares his perspective after four decades in the field. He describes his experience with balloon and timber frames, the challenges of working on homes with no sheathing, the changes he has seen in the quality of lumber, and the importance of doing right by a home’s structure when remodeling and upgrading insulation. Mark makes a number of points around the origins of platform framing—how it was designed to break up floors, shorten stud lengths, ease transportation, and ensure building safety. That leads the conversation in the direction of sheet goods, engineered lumber, and today’s leading-edge products. Alexandra expresses her commitment to team collaboration and describes industry changes in materials and methods as a response to the demand for convenience. Talk of SIPs and offsite modular construction takes up a good 10-plus minutes; we consider the homogenous value of wood products; and we touch on applications for mass timber. The main question driving the discussion: Does the material/method matter all that much or is it more about the quality of an assembly? 

Enjoy the show!

Join us on Thursday, April 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EST when Sonia Barrantes, Kristof Irwin, and Brian Ault will tackle a topic they have described as “Playing With Fire: Intentional Indoor Combustion.” We love fire and we live indoors. Sometimes these two facts don’t mesh happily. Fire warms, protects, and nurtures us but it is also a powerful, destructive, and potentially deadly force that needs to be skillfully planned for in the design, construction, and operation of our homes. Fire is a visible, exothermic reaction that requires air (oxygen) and fuel. This episode of the show will focus on safe applications of indoor combustion in order to prevent unintentional outcomes. Our guests will address the concerns and solutions for wood stoves, fireplaces, and furnaces, and then expand to any device that moves air from the interior to the exterior of the enclosure.

Guest bios

Sonia Barrantes is a former Naval Flight Officer and combat veteran who spent more than a decade flying in carrier-based combat aircraft all over the world. She returned home to Maine nine years ago and has since co‑founded Ripcord Engineering, specializing in the integrated design of high-efficiency mechanical and plumbing systems. Sonia is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and the University of Maryland with an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering and a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Sonia is a registered engineer in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York.

Kristof Irwin, P.E., M Eng., is the principal of Positive Energy. Kristof’s background includes 12 years of experience as a custom builder (including deep energy retrofits and zero-net energy projects) and 11 years as a building science consultant. He worked for 14 years as an engineer, research scientist, and physicist for government and university research labs. And he is the host of the Building Science podcast.

Brian Ault is a Senior Design Engineer with Positive Energy. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with Bachelor and Master of Architectural Engineering degrees, and worked in the commercial MEP Consulting world for 11 years before coming to Positive Energy in the summer of 2020. He currently helps to guide the Mechanical Design Team at Positive Energy, and leads homeowners and clients to simpler and greener designs.

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show  

BS* + Beer Book Club

Because the hosts of the BS* + Beer Show all love to read, we thought we would celebrate the authors in our industry by adding a book club to the show every few months. We’ll announce the book, give you a few months to get it and read it, and conclude with a BS* + Beer Show episode where we will invite the author to join us, present, and take questions.

Musings of an Energy Nerd

We have selected our fourth book: Musings of an Energy Nerd: Toward an Energy-Efficient Home by Martin Holladay, which can be purchased at the Taunton Store.

We hope you will pick up a copy and join the discussion on July 8, 2021.


Kiley Jacques is senior editor at Green Building Advisor. She can be reached at [email protected]


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