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RULE 5: 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 friend.

Bathroom rough-in. 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 location. 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 inches. 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. Kitchens. 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 uppers. Lighting. 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.

RULE 6: 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 garage walls). Hold-downs. 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 (Figure 5).

Figure 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.

RULE 7: 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). Stucco. 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 exact dimension.