by Don Dunkley I've been framing custom homes for more than 25 years, and I've learned that a well-planned layout is the key to an efficient job. Errors are bound to occur: Clients are unpredictable, general contractors can forget to relay important details, framers are always in a hurry, and plans are often inconsistent. A job hindered by mistakes and changes goes slow, costs money, and becomes discouraging for everyone involved. But with a little planning and a well-detailed layout, I can often avoid these problems by following these layout rules.

Plan quality.Layout is always a challenge, and the quality of the plans plays a big part. Due to the high cost of hiring professional architects, builders can often get saddled with inadequate residential plans drawn by poorly trained building designers. Some of the designers I work with do excellent work, but many provide plans without...

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