This blog is solely about the start-to-finish construction of a house.
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July 18, 2014

Framing is Underway

Stacks of beautiful material.
The lumber has arrived, and framing is underway.

Spent the morning laying out the walls and perimeter plates.  A whole lot of time was spent making sure everything was perfectly square.

The foundation is impressively close to square, but we are going for precision.  All of the sill plates now have carefully placed layout lines with which to align.

The sill plates have now been cut to length, and holes are located and drilled to accommodate all of the bolts, conduits, and other penetrations.

Wall plate layout
Next, top plates will be cut to match the sill plates, and the stud layout will be marked on them both so that they perfectly align.

Takes skill to get those holes in the right place.  Inspector won't allow more than 1/8" oversized hole.
The sill plates are treated lumber, since they will be in contact with concrete. (though with an air-sealing gasket between them).

We considered trying to eliminate the treated lumber (and the associated chemical) here and instead use cedar, but code requires treated lumber here (or a "naturally durable wood" of which non-old-growth cedar does not qualify in my opinion), and honestly I did not feel comfortable with the substitution.  A sustainable house is hardly sustainable if it doesn't last - and the sill plate is the most likely place that rot might be found, and also is the place where an insect would first start chewing into your wall. 

There is a good argument that the air sealing gasket keeps it from being in "direct contact" with concrete.  Also, that moisture is required for rot to occur, and if there is moisture in the wall, your problem isn't addressed just because the sill plate doesn't rot - you still have a moisture problem.  The wet sill plate will still wick moisture into the non-treated studs.  Good detailing and careful construction keeps this from being an issue, thereby eliminating the need for a treated sill.  The argument is a good one, theoretically.  I gave it serious consideration, but don't yet have enough of a comfort level to risk long-term durability over this issue, especially with a slab-on-grade house.  Would like to see some forensic studies verifying performance as expected.  Feel free to share information on this subject with me.

All lumber is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified

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