Pinkard Frameworks Manager, Dan Harris, discusses innovative approaches to wood framing in the December issue of Building Dialogue. In the article titled "The Problem with Wood Framing and How to Solve It," Harris highlights the challenges of wood framing and offers solutions for successful projects.
According to Harris, wood framing is one of the riskiest scopes in construction. The problems that can result from poorly managed framing, including schedule and quality issues that cascade into other trades, cannot be fixed with a bonding Band-Aid. Harris suggests that someone must take ownership of the wood framing process to solve this problem.
Harris also points out that the lack of ownership is due to many entities having a piece of the puzzle. One example is truss design, where structural engineers rely on general design principles to complete framing plans. Truss company bids are based on these plans and will bid them as drawn, right or wrong. They have no incentive other than winning the job. These companies generally do not evaluate the project holistically, leading to problematic designs being passed to the framing subcontractor.
To address these issues, Harris recommends a thorough preconstruction process that involves a general contractor with in-depth framing knowledge and their key suppliers, especially truss fabricators, with the design team. This collaboration results in framing designs that meet architectural and structural intent, ensure constructability, and seamless integration with other trades. The result is a project that can be built in budget, faster, and with simplicity that improves quality before construction starts.
Harris emphasizes the importance of cultivating relationships with vendors and holding them to project specifications. This approach ensures quality and saves owners money. Once the project is set up for success, experienced and attentive on-site supervision is crucial. A dedicated framing professional who leads the Framing Subcontractor and interfaces directly with the project superintendent can catch minor issues before they become major problems. This level of supervision ensures the project stays on track and all team members are held accountable for their work.
Properly implemented, Harris believes these strategies can be incredibly successful. He cites Pinkard's recent preconstruction efforts for Boulder County Housing Authority on Willoughby Corner, a multi-phased affordable community in Lafayette with 174 units in the first phase, as an example. Having a team who not only understands the wood framing process start to finish but also takes ownership and responsibility for its success is essential for ensuring that your wood frame project is delivered smoothly on schedule, competitively priced, and is a quality build that will last you decades.