Billy Ray and His Boys

What most folks know about home framing could probably fit in Billy Ray's pinky. He's been doing it for over half a century and he is an encyclopedia of knowledge about building codes, their regional differences and what really matters most when you're framing.

Soon after they started framing, the crew built Billy Ray a bench out of scrap lumber so that he would have a place to sit and watch them. The framing crew varied day by day. On the day this photo was taken it was Billy Ray Heath; his son, Shane Heath and his buddy, Randy Taylor. Sometimes there would be four of his sons and other days there might only be only two, along with other friends of the family.

Billy Ray watched them, directed them, corrected them and made sure that everything was being done the way he would have done it, if he was still swinging the tools. Although he misses it, he's smart enough to realize his talent lies in directing the work of others.

Billy Ray always carried our house plans neatly folded up in his pocket, along with a pencil for taking notes, but he kept most of the small details in his head. We soon learned that whenever there was a problem with the plans, the smartest thing we could do was to ask him what he thought.

Billy Ray's Truck Most times he would start his answer with "I live two counties away and I can't see this house from my place, so it doesn't much matter to me. But if it was my place, I'd…" And that's when Billy Ray's years of experience would result in him dispensing his invaluable advice.

He told us once that the framing had to be done right because he didn't want to drive by a few years from now and be embarrassed by what the house might look like. Looking at the finished framing, it's for certain he won't be embarrassed.

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