This week marked a huge milestone with the completion of the foundation and basement slab and the beginning of framing. Big deliveries of the lumber for our house too! We opted to use Douglas Fir which is regarded as the highest standard for framing material – all other woods are measured against Douglas Fir because of its high strength, stability values, and excellent performance against strong wind forces. Did you know Douglas Fir isn’t actually a true fir tree? It’s scientific name “Pseudotsuga” actually means “false hemlock”…how strange is that?
Anyhow, the builder’s standard would have been to use a Hem-Fir which is a combination of lumber from western hemlocks and true firs (nobles, grand, pacific silver, etc). Hem-Fir has a lower strength value than Douglas Fir, but it’s still capable of meeting the engineer’s span requirements. So Hem-Fir would have suited our building needs, but my dad insisted that we upgrade to Douglas Fir. Dad knows best, huh?! He thinks we’ll end up with straighter and stronger walls. Stronger walls…maybe. That was the case with ‘old growth’ Douglas Fir – which isn’t really around anymore. Everything now is fairly ‘young’ and our builder thinks that now there’s not much of a difference in strength between Hem-Fir and Douglas-Fir lumber. In any case, we opted for the upgrade to the stronger Douglas Fir.
Also delivered was a lot of the material needed for the floor system between the two floors. This includes our plywood, TJI joists, and some laminated strand lumber needed in certain spots. Our engineer spec’d for us to use 110 TJI’s at 24″ on center spacing with 3/8″ plywood sheeting for the subfloor, but we opted to use 210 & 560 TJI’s at 16″ on center spacing with 1 1/8″ plywood sheeting. So we’re using stronger TJI joists, at a closer spacing, and with thicker plywood – this results in a much stronger floor system, without any deflection or ‘bounciness’ in the floor.
Ok, to the fun stuff…the guys started framing the house last Saturday, by snapping lines and prepping for the sill plates. It’s amazing to see the amount of work they can get done in just one week. The majority of the basement walls have been framed and you can walk through each of the rooms now. After working on designing the house for a year, it’s crazy to see it actually taking shape and being able to walk through all of the rooms. Now that we can walk through them, all of the rooms’ dimensions feel really good – I don’t think any of the rooms feel too small (which I was a little worried about in the guest room). And the only space that feels big is the storage room downstairs – I guess that’s expected though since it’s 620 square feet! It’s going to be so nice to actually have some storage in a house – we were definitely missing that in our old house and our garage was always filled with ‘junk’ (as Joel says), like Christmas decorations, patio furniture, and camping gear. And now that we added a door to the backyard into the storage room we’re really going to be able to access it easily. Super excited for that space!