Framing lumber is the skeleton of the home and not unlike those in your body a home depends on good strong bones to withstand the stresses nature delivers. Since a new home’s framing is not seen when it is completed, it seems to be given only passing consideration by the customer during the planning process.
Obviously this lack of emphasis on such a crucial element of construction is based, in my opinion, on the assumption that the builders whom one may be considering, generally use the same type and grade of lumber. That assumption may lead to one of the biggest errors one can make in selecting a contractor because it is not the least bit accurate.
There are indeed tremendous differences in the quality of framing lumber and, although unseen, it is essential to the overall quality and performance of a new home. All of the upgraded finishes and fixtures that are used to make a new home comfortable and appealing will ultimately fail to conceal the truth that these features are installed over poor quality lumber. The old adage of putting lipstick on a pig seems to be apropos.
So how, you may ask, does someone with little knowledge of lumber determine which builder is using the best quality of building materials? Truthfully, it is difficult but I suggest that the first hint may be whether the contractor you’re considering simply brings the subject up. Any builder who is making an effort to provide a quality product will want to make an effort to point out what they feel distinguishes them from the competition.
Another question that may be somewhat enlightening is to inquire where the builder purchases the lumber they will use to build your home. In my opinion, lumber purchased at big box stores or other discount outlets is nowhere near the quality offered from a lumberyard that is dedicated to servicing builders rather than walk-in retail customers. Although discount pricing from the big box stores may enable the builder to be competitively priced, using inexpensive lumber will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the overall quality of the home.
It may also be useful to know if your builder has ever actually framed a home in their career and if so how many or for how long. Having been a framing contractor for many years has given me a very strong belief that this part of the construction process is where quality is established in a home. The knowledge of what products and methods produce the best framing job is crucial to a successful project. If your builder has never famed, hopefully they have a qualified superintendent that has this knowledge.
Technological advances in growing, harvesting and milling lumber have not only enabled the timber industry to increase sustainability, it has allowed them to offer products that are straighter and stronger as well, all while keeping the cost of wood products relatively stable. There are now framing options available to builders that were not available a short time ago.
It isn’t glitzy or glamorous and you don’t even see it when a home is completed but framing lumber and framing carpentry are truly the basis that allows the quality of your home to shine through. To ignore this important facet of construction is setting oneself up for disappointment sooner or later.