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Building Your Dream Home?  Don’t Forget to Look Behind the Walls

(ARA) - Imagine the excitement and anticipation of building a new home. You spend months choosing all the right details: the color of the paint and carpets, the style of the light fixtures, even the landscaping to welcome you and your guests. After a long wait and hundreds of thousands of dollars, the day arrives when you unlock the door and step inside. As you walk in, the floor creaks and feels bouncy. Everything else seems perfect, but a squeaky floor makes you wonder about the quality of the home. You can avoid this and similar disappointments by taking time up front to ask your builder some simple, yet critical, questions about the home’s structural framing.

Structural framing includes wall studs, rafters, floor joists, beams and headers, floor panels and sheathing. The quality of these materials and how they work together is critical for the long-term value and comfort of your home. In addition to avoiding annoying floor squeaks and bounces, the framing impacts how straight and even the walls are and how well cabinets, doors and windows function. Quality framing also helps ensure crisp rooflines and improves the home’s resistance to earthquakes and high winds.

“While most people don’t think about their new home’s structural framing, good decisions up front can save a lot of hassle and thousands of dollars of rework later,” says Brian Greber, vice president of marketing and technology for iLevel by Weyerhaeuser.  “You don’t need to be a framing expert. What matters is speaking to your builder about your expectations.”

The first question to ask is: “What types of framing materials will be used?” Different materials offer different performance characteristics. For example, many builders use engineered wood products, such as TimberStrand laminated strand lumber (LSL), TJI floor joists and Structurwood Edge Gold floor panels all from iLevel, because of their strength, consistency and resistance to warping, shrinking and buckling. Engineered wood can either be used throughout the home, or in key areas where extra straightness is needed, such as kitchen and bathroom walls, or where straightness and strength are important, such as two-story entry foyers and great rooms.

The second question to ask about structural framing is: “What warranties, if any, does the manufacturer offer on the materials?” Some manufacturers offer 25-year to lifetime limited warranties on the framing materials, which is an important consideration given that structural framing accounts for one of the single largest costs in building a new home.

In addition to these two general questions, homebuyers should ask about a few specific areas of the structural frame:  

For floors: “Will the builder provide a rating number of the floor’s anticipated performance, such as a TJ-Pro Rating from iLevel, and will materials be used that help reduce potential squeaks?”  Such ratings can help predict how stable the floor will feel based on the materials used and how they are assembled in the frame. Homebuyers should also ask about any specific floor warranties available, such as a no squeak guarantee.

For walls: “Will engineered wood studs be used where strong and straight walls are critical, such as those supporting kitchen cabinets and kitchen and bathroom tiles, and in walls taller than 10-feet high?” Engineered wood studs can help cabinets hang straight and avoid unsightly cracks and nail pops in finished walls. In addition, the long lengths of such studs eliminate the need to stack walls to form tall walls, which can create a “hinge” point and lead to leaky windows and cracked finishes.

For roofs: “What type of sheathing will be used?”  A range of options is available, including high quality oriented strand board (OSB) that can protect against costly buckling, warping and sagging. In sunny climates, radiant barrier sheathing (RBS), a form of OSB with a reflective foil, can help reduce ever-rising home cooling costs.

As you dream and plan for your new home, remember that everything in it depends on a strong structural frame. Taking time to ask a few key questions shows that you care about all aspects of your home and provides a way for you and your builder to work together to help ensure it will meet your family’s needs from the first day and into the future.

For more information on home structural framing products and services, visit or call 888-iLevel8 (888) 453-8358 to speak to an iLevel by Weyerhaeuser representative.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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