Efficiency in Homebuilding Using Pre-manufactured Components

This won’t be news to big-time homebuilders in the tract-housing trenches, but for a small-time, detail-oriented construction firm in a small market, using pre-manufactured components  on our current project has really improved our efficiency and, frankly, our quality of life as carpenters.

Truss joists

Manufactured truss joists — 24 foot clear span.

The architects for this project spec’d truss joists, and it is the first time that we’ve installed this product. Because of the engineered load-bearing nature of this type of floor system bearing walls and beams are eliminated in favor of clear-span floors — significantly speeding up the vertical progress of the home. The definition of lightweight construction, 24 foot joists are light enough for a single carpenter to maneuver around the site. The plumbing and electrical contractors will appreciate the open nature of the truss construction, speeding installation.

Peaks.

The very top of the roof trusses. The mountains are nice too.

Roof trusses are, again, nothing new to most builders. However, given the low overall project volume of the company that I work for, we’ve had occasion to frame roofs traditionally as frequently as to use trusses. While their outright size and weight necessitate having a machine on site to lift the trusses to the top plates, this inconvenience is mitigated by the speed with which the roof framing can be accomplished. We’re framing a house in January, in the Northern Adirondacks, so speed and simplicity are a real bonus. Even given the less-than-ideal consistency from truss to truss they are less aggravating to install than sawn 2×12’s.

Piers

Pre-cast concrete piers for deck footers.

Finally, another new product to our crew, pre-cast concrete footers. The overall design of the home is very straightforward — it’s a rectangle. The home does have a bump-out mudroom, breezeway, deck, and screen porch, however, and all of these “exterior to the footprint” components are supported by piers. On past projects we would have set sonotubes and mixed concrete by hand: tedious, time-consuming work. While the number and location of piers was significant and complicated, the work could be accomplished quickly and accurately by one person (in this case, the boss) and a small back hoe. Further functionality and efficiency will be realized while framing on top of these piers as threaded anchor nuts are cast in place.

I’m writing about my day job here because this topic furthers my interest in best building practices and efficiency in my work life. In this case the company  performing the work is not Guenther Woodworking, but Crowl Construction, of Keene, New York. Brian Crowl can be reached at crowlbuild@localnet.net. If you’re looking to build in the greater Keene region of the Adirondacks, this is the company to call.

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