Thursday, August 4, 2011

The House: Lots to Learn

I've said this to Cody at least twenty times: It's not about expertise; it's about attitude.

But when it comes to building a house (and this could easily be a metaphor for all walks of life), you at least need to learn what you're doing! There's plenty of projects to do and work to get done if you go looking for it, and then ask questions when you get there.

Yesterday we built an exterior wall. I left before they lifted it into place, but it was still fascinating (for me, at least) to learn about. We're using a somewhat new technique of off-set studs. I found these diagrams online. In traditional exterior-wall framing, you have all 2x6" boards that line up like this, right?:

These types of walls are fairly easy to build, but they're not very energy efficient. The heat/cold can pass right through all the studs, as they directly connect the outside to the inside. Also, to run wires through the walls, you have to cut a hole through each stud. So instead of using that method, we're using this one:
(this is a cross-section view if the wall) We have offset studs. They are 2x4 instead of 2x6, so they don't extend from back to front. Instead, we have more studs that go about 2/3 of the way through the wall. This means that there is much less direct transfer of heat through the walls, more room for (sprayed) insulation, and no need to cut holes in the studs for wires, since they can just snake right through. Cool, huh!

Another nifty trick I learned was to apply the outside sheathing to the wall (big solid pieces of particle board that surrounds the outside of the house, between the studs and the siding), while the wall is still on the ground, before you lift it into place. That way you don't have to hold up the sheathing while nailing it in. Of course, though, if you place a solid board on top of the wall, how will you know where to nail? Well, we had a group of people mark all the sheathing with 16" chalk lines that would line right up with the studs when we placed it down, so the guys could just nail it on super fast. It's at moments like those that I'm grateful a few of us know what we're doing--or at least think things through well in advance so we don't end up with stupid mistakes.

We're still just a few feet into our very long marathon of building. But it sure is fun to learn and try new things!


Eric said...

That's an interesting concept, staggering the studs. That scenario could be a good heat transfer problem to solve, given the thermal conductivities of wood and insulation. I wonder how the strength compares?

Laurie/Mom/Grandma said...

It was very interesting to see the walls built that way. You couldn't do it that way with traditional batting type insulation. The blown in insulation makes it possible.