Work With Your Subs I make sure that I take care of
the subcontractors that follow the framing. It's easy to
obstruct their access, so I plan ahead to keep framing out of
their way. Look out for these folks, so when it comes time to
ask for something to be moved or relocated, you've got a
In the bathroom, the first
thing I check is the toilet. Code requires the commode to have
a minimum 30 inches of total clearance - 15 inches from the
center of the flange to the walls on each side after drywall,
as in . Make sure there's enough space when there's a vanity
next to the commode. If there's less than 30 inches for a
vanity, I'll move a wall to gain more space.
When framing the subfloor, make sure a joist doesn't
interfere with the toilet plumbing. I make a point of allowing
at least 4 inches of joist clearance on each side of the toilet
The rough opening for a standard bathtub is 5 feet. I snap
out the opening on the floor no less than 5 feet 1/8 inch and
no more than 5 feet 1/4 inch. This gives the right amount of
wiggle room to fit in a tub. A tub recess usually gets snapped
out 30 inches deep. However, this typically puts a stud smack
in the middle of the shower valve. To stay friends with the
plumber, detail the plates so that studs land 7-1/4 inches from
each side of center, creating a standard 14-1/2-inch stud bay
with plenty of shower valve clearance.
I start the backing blocks to catch the top edge of the tub
at 15 inches off the floor. When a tub-shower enclosure is
used, center the blocking (2x4s turned flat) at 72 inches off
the floor. Make sure a joist isn't in the way of the tub drain
when framing the floor.
Most vanity tops are 22 inches wide, and when a half- or
full-height privacy wall is drawn to separate the toilet and
vanity, I snap out the privacy wall so that it's no less than
26 inches long. If you need to add a towel ring, add 12 more
Laundry rooms are usually crammed with cabinets and
appliances, and it's important to know all the dimensions ahead
of time. Washers and dryers are approximately 27 to 30 inches
wide and about 26 to 28 inches deep, not including hoses and
flex duct. This means a washer and dryer alcove must be at
least 3 feet deep, and no less than 5 feet, 6 inches wide
(preferably 6 feet 0 inches). If a client requests a window
behind the appliances, I keep the window sill no lower than 48
inches from the floor. Make sure any door is at least 2 feet, 8
inches wide, or the dryer might not fit.
Years ago, it was standard practice
to install blocking for cabinets in the kitchen walls, but
after years of framer neglect, most cabinet installers have
given up expecting this. Most cabinet boxes today are made
Euro-style, using a cleat fastened to the wall that matches a
receiving cleat on the cabinet back. But I still offer
continuous backing in the wall, using 2x6 or 2x8 blocks framed
at a height of 90 or 96 inches, depending on the size of the
The hallway seems to be one place
where ceiling joists invariably end up in the way of the
electrician. Can lights are common here, so I check the
electrical plan and confirm it with the general contractor.
Because it's easy to forget about lighting, I put a reminder on
the floor plan (or ceiling joist plan, if there is one) and on
the floor itself. For can lights, I keep my ceiling joists at
least 7-1/4 inches clear of center (a 14-1/2-inch-wide centered
opening works in most cases).
Kitchen lighting can range from rows of mini-can lights to
huge fluorescent light wells. Although this doesn't affect the
initial wall framing, it's wise to nail down the kitchen light
placement as soon as possible. The can lights aren't much of a
problem, but the big recessed light wells can be. Once framed,
these huge light boxes surrounded by doubled carrier joists
will catch the eye of the client. Don't wait until you frame it
to bring it to the client's attention. Avoid the punishment of
having to reframe by snapping the light box out on the kitchen
floor and letting the client mull over it.
Look Out for Structural Needs If structural
engineering requirements are included with the plans, I study
the calc sheet, making sure to note any changes and additions.
Here are a few things to look for.Loads.
Beam loads that transfer down to a wall
below are rarely pointed out in the first-floor layout. When
detailing the plates, it's easy to overlook a second-story
floor or roof beam, so I spend time locating all the structural
support beams in the house. Heavy loads that land on a window
or door opening must have a stronger header, which may require
engineered lumber or more trimmers for greater bearing at the
ends. If a beam load is placed over a stud or stud bay, a post
the same width as the beam must be placed directly underneath.
Other beams may require a pocket in the wall (commonly found in
If hold-down posts have been
placed right next to an opening, they often act as king studs.
This isn't too bad when it's a window opening, but for doorways
it can be a real pain. The stud bolt has to go through the post
but not stick past the face of the trimmer stud. This requires
countersinking the nut and washer in the trimmer stud. I try to
avoid this by calling the engineer to determine how much
flexibility I have for moving the hold-down posts. Often there
is enough wiggle room to locate the post shy of the king stud
5.When hold-down posts fall at the location
of the king stud, the bolts must be countersunk in the trimmer
(left). Sometimes this can be avoided by moving the hold-down
away from the opening (right), but check with the engineer
before doing this.
Consider the Exterior
Every exterior covering has
an effect on the framing at some point. Stucco is the most
common exterior I deal with, followed by horizontal lap siding
(usually hardboard but occasionally redwood or cedar), T-1/11
plywood, and masonry (brick, rock, or manufactured stone).
Horizontal lap siding.
If the exterior calls
for horizontal lap siding, I find out whether it has a flat
profile or a bevel. With bevel siding, it's a given that the
trim boards go on first and the siding butts to it. If it's a
flat profile, there is a choice, so I ask the general or the
client if they prefer the trim to go over the top of the siding
or the siding to butt the trim. When siding butts up to trim,
there is usually a backing problem. In almost all cases, the
trim board will cover the framing on the sides of the windows,
doors and corners, so there's no framing to fasten the siding
to (). In this case I detail on the plates where backing is
needed (usually no more than a 2-by the length of the opening,
nailed alongside the king stud).
If stucco is called for, I like to
know if it's a standard three-coat, or the popular two-coat
foam board system. The two-coat system is approximately 1-3/8
inches thick, while the traditional three-coat is only 7/8 inch
thick. This extra thickness all but obscures the bottom edge of
eaves blocking unless you hold it out an inch. Even though roof
eaves blocking happens way down the road, I note this on the
plans early so I won't forget it later.
Masonry also affects eaves blocking. For brick, I commonly
hold the eaves blocks out 4-3/4 inches, but in the case of real
or synthetic rock, it's best to check with the mason for an