Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page includes notes on frame construction.


The preferred method of frame construction is from the foundation up. Begin with the sill, which is bolted to the top layer of blocks. Next come the floor joists and joist headers.

Floor joists, by code, may only traverse a certain span without support. Thus, based on the size of your addition, you may wish to use a girder to help prop up the floor joists. In many cases, a girder can be made by nailing together a couple 2X12s. After reviewing my blueprints, the plans examiner required me to use a 16.8 foot 6X12 glue-laminated beam. The cumbersome name of this hunk of wood does justice to its size and weight. It is heavy, and requires the proverbial two men and a boy merely to lift one end of it.

This same beam delayed my lumber order for three weeks, and cost a hefty fee to have delivered. It was obvious to me that, unlike cement, this thing would not make it home in the back of a pickup.

Since the glu-lam beam was destined to hold the second story of our addition, it had to be lifted approximately six feet ten inches into the air. It was then to be supported by two 4X6 vertical posts and a wall built of 2X6s.

I jostled it around some as it rested on the garage floor to see if Robin and I could handle it by ourselves. It did not take long to figure out this was a job requiring outside assistance. Recruiting people to help with a project is a delicate procedure. It requires considerable tact and an incredible amount of gall (tact in knowing whom to approach, and gall in knowing you will never be able to sufficiently repay your recruits for services rendered).

The most effective way to recruit workers is to go door to door in your neighborhood immediately before you begin the job. Offer beer and pop to anyone who will follow you.

With a large force behind you, it would seem that lifting a beam and then putting props under it would be a simple matter. I figured it would be no more than a five-minute job. My neighbors and I lifted the beam while Robin was designated to jam in the support posts. Inevitably, there was a problem: the glu-lam beam butted against a ceiling joist in the garage. The joist was an inch lower than the joists in the addition. My neighbors and I strained our arms, backs and hernias while Robin futilely worked to stuff the support post in the wall at the point designated. This low beam blocking our advance was a possibility for which I had made no contingency.

I did not want to dismiss the assembled manpower and waste a good 12 pack of Miller. I despaired at the thought of having to gather the men again. Like any good general, I changed plans on the spur of a moment. I glommed onto the first suggestion that came my way: a helpful recruit suggested that we jack the ceiling joist to the proper height. I cut a 2X4 to size. With it and a car jack, we lifted the beam and the joist. The posts slid into place; then I lowered the jack.

After making short work of the beer, the neighborhood army dispersed. I was grateful for their help.

Robin took the sheen off our victory over the glu-lam beam by insisting that the garage roof was no longer level. Undoubtedly, she was correct in her evaluation, but I was inclined to leave well enough alone. I insisted that the difference in height of one inch from one end of the garage to the other was hardly worth worrying about.

Robin, though, is a perfectionist, especially when it comes to expending my labor to right a perceived problem. I spent the next day jacking up the garage joist and cutting a one-inch notch out of it, then lowering it back down. It just goes to show what a man will do for love, or at least what he will do so he doesn't have to listen to his wife complain about an uneven garage roof.

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Theme Song
Lumber Quality
Circular Saw
Frame Construction
Sub Floor
Secret Passages
Ceilings and Roofs
Good Carpenters

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How to Really Frame a Wall!

Introduction | Decision Making | Design | Permits | Buying Materials | Demolition | Digging | Masonry | Framing | Electricity | Plumbing | Inspections | Roofing | Sheathing / Siding | Soffits | Insurance | Insulation | Fat Fireman Rule | Drywall | Finish Carpentry | Tile | Painting | Carpet | Done

About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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