Kathy Price-Robinson is the editor of a great blog called Pardon our Dust from the L.A. Times. She recently opened a discussion comparing standard framing techniques (2×4′s 16-inch on center) vs. advanced techniques (2×6′s 24-inch on center) that are generally considered more environmentally friendly.
She polled two professional builders who have differing opinions that we feel are derived from the philosophies of their firms.
Alan Toker of Megabuilders lays out a very convincing argument that these OVE (Optimum Value Engineering) framing techniques are actually detrimental to the environment and are not practical. Considering his firm is called “Megabuilders” and they showcase McMansions on their website it’s easy to see that pursuing subs who are skilled in OVE techniques cuts into their bottom line. There is also no mention of “green building” or environmentally conscious construction. This is not a reflection on the quality of their work as they most likely build solid homes but it’s more of a commentary on their philosophy that doesn’t jive with the direction of the environmentally sound building process that the Department of Energy is behind.
As Devon Hartman of Hartman Baldwin mentions, “the home you design must be designed with these techniques in mind from the beginning.” This mindset must derive from the builder and client and therefore every other home building decision can be based on the initial green-building plan which starts with advanced framing.
To summarize the advantages and disadvantages of advanced framing techniques:
+ Energy efficient: more room in walls for insulation and less cold spots
+ Less lumber used
+ Faster build time (lower labor cost)
+ Builder saves in lumber purchased, cut and transport time
- Higher up front cost of design and engineering as well as framing crew training and supervision
- Harder to find builders who skilled in these techniques
- May impact built-in furnishings and other external elements that are set to the standard 16-inch width