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Advanced Framing Techniques: Optimum Value Engineering (OVE)

Reduce lumber use and still maintain structural integrity

View the ToolBase TechSpecs- Advanced Framing Techniques PDF file for an overview of this technology.

Interior roof and wall wood framing

Using OVE techniques results in lower material and labor costs and improved energy performance for the building. While the system can be applied as a whole package, many of its components can be used independently, depending upon the specific needs of the project. Framers unfamiliar with the techniques may need training, and the initial use of these techniques may temporarily slow down framing operations. In general more planning is needed when using these techniques.

OVE uses engineering principles to minimize material usage while meeting model building code structural performance requirements.

The following list covers each of the innovations that form part of the system:

19.2" and 24" On Center Framing
Wall and floor framing spacing can often be widened to 19.2" (1/5 of an 8' sheet) or 24" on center (roof framing spacing is already typically 24"). This strategy can be combined with modular layout and single top plate for added economy, but can also be used independently. Some insulation manufacturers do not make insulation for 19.2" spaced framing, so using this spacing in an insulated wall may require changing the type or brand of insulation.

Modular Layout
Building to a 24" module and using 24" on center wall and floor framing can maximize framing material cost savings. Few homes can be entirely confined to a rigid module because crucial dimensions such as the width of a tub or corridor are not modular. The most important dimensions to keep on the module are overall dimensions to the outside of framing. To maximize savings, window sizes and placement should be coordinated with the module.

Single Top Plate - Exterior and Bearing Walls
This technique must be used with modular layout and is typically used with 24" on center framing. By stacking the wall, second floor and roof framing, it is possible to use a single top plate, because the plate does take any vertical loads. Steel plates or straps are used to maintain continuity of the plate in the absence of a second, overlapping plate.

Single Top Plate - Interior Non-Bearing Partitions
Any non-bearing partition can be built with a single top plate.

Right-Sized Headers
Instead of sizing all headers in bearing walls to accommodate the worst case load and span, size each header for its particular load and span.


Affordability

Substantial amounts of lumber can be removed from the wall and floor framing, although the need for thicker decking, cladding and finish materials may partially reduce the savings. Construction to a 24" module saves cutting and waste on sheet materials. It cuts framing lumber by eliminating closely spaced members to make up a small added dimension. It also makes the best use of 24" on center framing, and allows the use of a single top plate. In a 28' x 40' two-story house, the savings are equivalent to eliminating about 35 studs. If the spacing of the stacked framing is increased to 19.2" or 24" on center, the overall saving in the house frame can be substantial.

Energy Efficiency

Wider stud spacing reduces heat loss by reducing the amount of through -the-wall- wood and increasing the amount of insulation in the wall.

Environmental Performance

Reducing the use of heavier framing is environmentally desirable.


Not-so-easy

19.2" and 24" On Center Framing
Floor decking, cladding and interior finish materials need to be sized to span the added dimension without undesirable deflection. If floor joists are chosen that have wider than usual flanges, this will reduce the clear span of the floor decking. Although 1/2" gypsum board deflects substantially more over 24" framing, it is commonly used and seems to be accepted by most homebuyers. In some markets, there is a perception that wider framing spacing is a mark of "cheap" construction.

Modular Layout
Working to a module typically works best on simple plans. Non-bearing partitions typically cannot be held to the module.

Single Top Plate - Exterior and Bearing Walls
May not work on homes in high-wind or earthquake zones. Requires purchasing a longer stud.

Single Top Plate - Interior Non-Bearing Partitions
If used along with a normal double plate on bearing and exterior walls, two lengths of stud are required on the job, which could be confusing.

Right-Sized Headers
Requires cutting different sized cripples over headers.

No Headers in Non-Bearing Partitions
No limitation if coding issue is addressed.

Ladders at T-Intersections
Blocking should be set so that it does not conflict with light switches and outlets.

Open Corner Framing
Drywall clips are unfamiliar to some builders and subcontractors.

Doubling the Rim Joist in Lieu of Header
The extra member may be deeper and more expensive than the header it replaces. If the rim joist is intended to act along with the extra member (or by itself), it must not have a joint over the opening. If the technique is used in a 2x4 stud wall, there may be not enough bearing left for the joists, and hangers may be needed.


Framing techniques reduce the amount of lumber used to build a home while maintaining the structural integrity of the building


Not Applicable


19.2" and 24" On Center Framing
Model codes allow load bearing walls framed with 2x4 studs spaced at 24" on center. In high-wind zones, 16" on center framing may be necessary to meet with loads.

Modular Layout
Not affected

Single Top Plate - Exterior and Bearing Walls
Meets codes, but is more likely than other OVE innovations to inspire questions from the building official.

Single Top Plate - Interior Non-Bearing Partitions
Meets codes, but is more likely than other OVE innovations to inspire questions from the building official.

Right-Sized Headers
Not affected

No Headers in Non-Bearing Partitions
None, although it may be necessary to demonstrate to the inspector that a partition is non-bearing.

Ladders at T-Intersections
No impact.

Open Corner Framing
More studs may be required at corners in high-wind or earthquake zone construction.

Doubling the Rim Joist in Lieu of Header
This is an unusual technique and may inspire questions from the inspector.


Not Applicable


19.2" and 24" On Center Framing
To gain maximum economy through careful spacing of window and door openings, it pays (for designs that are built repeatedly) to produce wall framing layout drawings to guide the framing crew. Crews are likely to be slowed down until they are used to being careful to avoid using unnecessary studs, instead of simply adding a stud where needed.

Modular Layout
Installation should be slightly easier because it will be more predictable.

Single Top Plate - Exterior and Bearing Walls
Bracing is needed to steady and plumb recently erected walls. This bracing should be left in place until the floor or roof above is completed, tying the structure together.

Single Top Plate - Interior Non-Bearing Partitions
Bracing is needed to steady and plumb recently erected walls. This bracing should be left in place until the floor or roof above the walls is completed, tying the structure together.

Right-Sized Headers
Requires framer to pay attention to plans instead of simply using a standard header size.

No Headers in Non-Bearing Partitions
Some method of coding partitions on the plans will help the layout framer in determining which openings need headers, and what size (see Right-Sized Headers).

Ladders at T-Intersections
Cutting and nailing three pieces of blocking requires approximately the same labor as installing two studs

Open Corner Framing
The extra stud can be 2x4 in a 2x6 wall - whatever is needed to receive the gypsum board.

Doubling the Rim Joist in Lieu of Header
The joists framing into the structural member must be shortened.


Not Applicable


19.2" and 24" On Center Framing
Substantial amounts of lumber can be removed from the wall and floor framing, although the need for thicker decking, cladding and finish materials may partially reduce the savings. Floor joists may need to be deepened on longer spans. A careful analysis or a trial prototype is needed to determine whether the wider spans make economic sense for a particular project. In general, simpler plans designed on a 2' module are much more likely to result in savings with 24" on center framing than are complex plans with odd dimensions and many small offsets. Wider stud spacing reduces heat loss by reducing the amount of through -the-wall- wood and increasing the amount of insulation in the wall.

Modular Layout
Construction to a 24" module saves cutting and waste on sheet materials. It cuts framing lumber by eliminating closely spaced members to make up a small added dimension. It also makes the best use of 24" on center framing, and allows the use of a single top plate.

Single Top Plate - Exterior and Bearing Walls
In a 28' x 40' two-story house, the savings are equivalent to eliminating about 35 studs. If the spacing of the stacked framing is increased to 19.2" or 24" on center, the overall saving in the house frame can be substantial. Because one plate is omitted, the amount of wall insulation is increased relative to wood, slightly improving energy performance.

Single Top Plate - Interior Non-Bearing Partitions
Savings depend on the length of non-bearing partitions, but in a typical home the equivalent of 2 or 3 dozen studs are likely to be saved.

Right-Sized Headers
Material cost savings must be balanced against replacing wrong-sized headers and showing down the framing process. Reducing the use of heavier framing is environmentally desirable.

No Headers in Non-Bearing Partitions
Saves material and labor cost, and conserves resources by reducing the use of large-dimension framing.

Ladders at T-Intersections
Much less lumber is used, and scrap pieces can be used (more than a stud is saved at each intersection). The joint is stiffened by the horizontal blocking. Most important, the insulator can continue insulation in the exterior wall past the partition framing in, forming a complete insulated blanket around the house and avoiding a hidden uninsulated cavity.

Open Corner Framing
With a two-stud corner, one stud is eliminated. In all cases, the open cavity at the corner can be insulated along with the wall, eliminating the need for the framer to insulate a closed cavity before the sheathing goes on.

Doubling the Rim Joist in Lieu of Header
Some labor may be saved in framing the header, but extra labor and thought is involved in shortening the joists. The concept works best for long spans where the extra depth is needed.

Disclaimer: The information on the system, product or material presented herein is provided for informational purposes only. The technical descriptions, details, requirements, and limitations expressed do not constitute an endorsement, approval, or acceptance of the subject matter by the NAHB Research Center. There are no warranties, either expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of this information. Full reproduction, without modification, is permissible.