Advanced Framing: An Examination of its Practical Use in Residential Construction
Advanced framing, also known as Optimum Value Engineering (OVE), is not new to home building. It was featured in kit homes offered by the Sears & Roebuck Company in the early 1900s (HUD, 2001), researched extensively in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and featured in a landmark publication, Manual of Lumber & Plywood Saving Techniques for Residential Light-Frame Construction (NAHB Research Foundation, 1971). Again in 1994, OVE framing techniques were revisited, updated, and featured in Cost-Effective Home Building (NAHB, 1994). Currently, provisions for several key OVE framing practices are found in model U.S. building codes (ICC, 2006).
Despite the long-term experience and ample resources supporting its use, OVE framing has received limited market penetration. In part, this may be attributed to the industry which tends to adopt new practices at a very slow rate. However, there are more substantive reasons, including the need for additional planning and oversight; a market perception of OVE practices as inferior to conventional practices; alternate construction methods that diminish the benefits of OVE such as the use of exterior foam insulation which drastically reduces thermal bridging; and, quite importantly, practical constructability issues that raise questions regarding the value and viability of some OVE framing practices.
This report is a case study of the issues faced during the design, planning, and construction of a “first-time” (for the builder) home using OVE techniques. It evaluates the benefits of OVE, quantifies material savings, and identifies barriers to and opportunities for improved practices or alternatives. By evaluating lessons learned throughout the project, the report concludes with a set of recommendations that are practical to implement in view of competing interests, such as historical trade practice or code official familiarity.