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Get Inline framing style is jobsite and energy efficient

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Get Inline framing style is jobsite and energy efficient

When I started in the trades, my first job was with a framing crew that was subbed out by a spec builder. It was always go, go, go, in an effort to move on to the next house. As most new framers know, the more time it takes you to construct a house the less money you make. However, with this mindset, quality, among other things, seems to slip. It wasn’t until I was able to work for and learn from a great, conscientious carpenter and custom homebuilder, John Rose of J.W. Rose Carpentry, did I realize the way I was originally taught was definitely not the best. It was these lessons I learned from Rose that I took moving forward with my own contracting company and teaching career.

When it comes to framing, one of the first lessons I learned was about inline framing. Quite simply, it is the alignment of floor joists, wall studs, and roof rafters stacked one on top of the other. Not only is this important on exterior load bearing walls, but also on interior partitions as well. This is not a new concept in framing and it really doesn’t take much thought to achieve this alignment. But I have seen many jobs that don’t take this into consideration. With my first job it was just 16″ and go. It didn’t matter much what wall or floor we were working on. Now, this is one of the first things I notice when I go on jobsites. Did the framers take alignment in to consideration? Did they care enough to construct with members inline?

In order to attain the alignment of inline framing I was taught to quite simply start my layout for each structural component from the same corner of the house. I would be able to more easily line up the members without too much thought. When going through the framing process, wherever you start your floor layout on the mud sill is where you will start your layout on the wall plates and again for your rafter layout.

This type of framing is advantageous for a few reasons. First, the transfer of loads is more efficient with this type of framing. With all structures, the transfer of loads through the connected members will end up displacing in undisturbed soil. The path that load travels is more direct with inline framing when the members that are connected are stacked over top of one another. Both live and dead loads on the structure will travel through the roof system, wall system, floor system and, eventually, through the foundation and footings in a direct line.

Secondly, this concept of keeping the members inline is also beneficial for the other trades that follow the carpenters. If we adopt this type of framing for interior partitions it allows mechanical trades spacing in the walls to easily get their components from the utility room to the first or even the second floor without having to worry about whether or not there will be a wall stud or floor joist blocking its path. This also means less back framing for the carpenters after the sub trades have completed their rough-ins. HVAC installers and plumbers will have ample room to make turns in the duct work and piping knowing that the paths required will not be blocked. This also makes life easier for drywall installers. Not having to guess where joists and studs are makes for a quicker and easier job.

Finally, this type of inline framing is the mindset required and the steppingstone for advanced framing. Advanced framing takes this concept to the next level by building a more efficient and cost-effective home. Advanced framing also has many advantages. This type of framing tries to minimize the amount of structural members by increasing on-centre spacing. On-centre spacing is increased to 24 inches from the standard 16 inches. By doing so, there is less material required to construct your home. Thermal bridging through the members is reduced and more room for insulation is created in exterior walls making for a more efficient home. Another key component is that double top plates are reduced to single top plates because the structural components are inline. However, this type of framing requires more consideration during the design process. Green builders are using this type of framing, not necessarily for the cost savings but more for the other benefits, namely energy efficiency and material conservation. Advanced framing is not possible without framing members being inline.

I’ve learned many concepts throughout my career, from many good carpenters, and continue to do so, but this idea of inline framing has stuck with me for many years. Inline framing is not a difficult concept to adopt but I believe it is the best way to frame your structures. The benefits far outweigh the amount of time it takes to figure this out on site. The more you use this type of framing mindset the more it becomes second nature.

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Beginner basics on building a trendy fence

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Beginner basics on building a trendy fence

In the poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost, he states, “Good fences make great neighbours.”

Interpret that how you may, but it is definitely nice to have privacy from even the greatest of neighbours.

In a conversation with contractor John MacMillan, of Scenic Fence and Deck in Stratford, Ont., he let us in on a few key tips that will certainly help you before you start any fence projects. He has also enlightened me in the art of homeowner management. Not just the homeowner you are working for, but up to five other homeowners that are adjacent to the lot you are working on.

John MacMillian
Divide and Conquer: John MacMillian builds fences – and good neighbours.

The first, and most obvious, tip is ensuring that you know where the lot lines are located. Triple check survey measurements. The last thing you want to do is build a fence only to find out later that you have to move it wasting time and, undoubtedly, material in the process. It’s not uncommon for adjacent homeowners to get out measuring tapes at night and even move survey stakes. It wouldn’t hurt to make a phone call to the local building department to ensure that there are no easements on the property or setbacks required. Always “call before you dig.” Make sure you have the local utilities survey the area and mark out where the services are located.

Once your lines are established it’s time to set posts. Scenic Fence and Deck will mark where the posts will be set days before they actually dig to allow homeowners the chance to visualize where the fence is going and air
out any grievances prior to actual construction. When setting posts, it is important to dig only the amount of posts that you can set in a day as it is hard to clean out liquid dirt the next day. Make sure there is no loose soil in the bottom of the hole. You don’t want the post to sink as the loose soil compresses over time. Some contractors will place crushed rock at the bottom of the holes to allow for drainage around the bottom of the posts. Scenic Fence and Deck also recommends the use of 5”x5” posts to help eliminate the potential for smaller posts twisting. Once your posts are set use string lines, braces, and stakes to keep them plumb and in line.

The next step in the process is to set the stringers that span the space between the posts. You want to use levels or a laser level at this point to ensure that the stringers are indeed level. You can use fence clips (small joist hangers) to attach the stringers to the posts. Fence clips provide adequate strength for most fence jobs.

Finally, it’s time for the fence boards. Depending on how you framed the fence will determine how you set the fence boards. It is key for a nice looking fence to have the top of the fence level and in line. If you use a board on the flat attached to the top stringer simply run the fence boards to the top. If there is no top board, string a line for the final height of the fence to keep the fence boards uniform. Make sure the boards are installed plumb.

“Triple check where the lot lines are located. The last thing you want to do is build a fence only to be wasting time and material moving it

MacMillan says that building a fence uses basic carpentry skills but the most useful skills he has acquired has come from 28 years in business and learning how to manage people. He was eager to share these tips when dealing with “hostile” neighbours. Not all homeowners are happy that a fence is being constructed! “Get out in front of any issues,” says MacMillan, before they become problems that slow down production. He has seen it all from disgruntled homeowners, including purposely parking vehicles in the way, leaving dogs out to bark at his employees, turning on sprinklers while they work, cutting string lines while they are on break, and even fistfights between neighbours.

“A neighbour that is angry with you is not going to hire you.” Try to turn these neighbours into opportunities for your business. MacMillan tells his employees to kill them with kindness. “A five-minute phone call and a handful of grass seed goes a long way.”

MacMillan also warns to have alternative jobs in the ready in case of delays from weather, equipment, neighbours, or other unforeseen obstacles.

Recent trends are changing the look of fences. A 90-degree shift is probably the most noticeable. Horizontal fences are now taking shape in many backyards giving your perimeter a more contemporary look with long, sophisticated lines.

Scenic Fence and Deck are installing more wrought iron fences than in years past. MacMillan does say to use fencing components manufactured in Canada as he has seen his share of offshore materials not hold up to the Canadian environment noting that the paint peels within a few years.

Other trends include staining the fence with dark colours to provide a backdrop that brings out the landscaping in front. The sharp contrast between the dark fence and the shades for green in the yard is stunning.

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