Photo: Inefficient Wall Framing Reduces Energy Efficiency

Originally published by: Builder OnlineMay 10, 2013

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An unsuspecting production builder is the object of today’s sneak peek. We visited a multifamily jobsite over the weekend to have a look at quality measures being implemented by one of America’s biggest builders. The houses are framed, plumbed, wired, ducted, and in the process of being insulated -- a prime opportunity for a surprise inspection.

‘Red Flag’ for the framers: Too much framing steals space for insulation

The framing contractor used far too many studs. At the rough opening, there are king studs (2), trimmer studs supporting the header (2), and jack studs supporting the sill plate (2). Additionally, there are extra common studs (2) on either side of the window creating small cavities that are difficult to insulate. The only reason for the studs so close to the window is that is where the 16-in. o.c. layout fell. If the window were slid to the left or right about 4 in., one of these extraneous studs could have been eliminated.

More framing could be eliminated from this small section of wall: because this is not a bearing wall, the header is not needed (floor joists above run parallel). Also, the two trimmer studs supporting the header could have been eliminated from this rough opening.

Almost half of the studs at this window are wasting money, time, and energy.

Extra framing costs money and takes up space that insulation could occupy; it costs the builder up front and the homeowner every month.

Smarter framing strategies, including moving to 24-in. o.c., can save $1,000 in lumber on a 2400 sq. ft. house (National Renewable Energy Lab) and add 10% to the amount of wall that can be insulated. Framing contractors should like it because walls are faster to frame, weigh less when you have to stand them up, and it is easier to walk between the studs when wearing nail bags.