Farmhouse Framing

With so many different approaches available for framing an energy-efficient home, the decision finally came down to an economic one: which approach would give us the biggest insulation bang for our buck.

The goal from the beginning was to create a sustainable, energy efficient home that could be built for $100. a square foot. Estimates for framing the house using SIPs (structural insulated panels), factory built modules or various forms of precast concrete were all coming in well over 200% of the cost of using a conventional stick building approach.

After consulting with different people who had gone through this process already, we decided to stick build the house using 2 x 6" studs so that we could apply a four inch thick layer of insulation on all outside walls.

One of the things I discovered in doing research on building materials was how inefficient wood was as an insulator. A 2 x 6" stud (5.5" thick) has an R value just under 7. In order to compensate for this, we decided that extra care would be taken to insulate all corners using a technique called "California Corners".

With traditional framing, once an outside corner is boxed in, it can't be easily insulated, which results in a substantial energy loss. Using the "California Corners" technique, all corners are easily accessed and insulated which results in substantial energy savings.

We also decided to pre-build all of the window and door headers as boxes. Using this technique we would be able to stuff insulations between the header boards before they were put in place.

These techniques, combined with having the framing done by people familiar with energy-efficient construction, should have a substantial impact on the home's overall efficiency and it's cost.