Rough framing isn't measured in thirty-seconds of an inch, and for good reason. Although a shabby frame can put finish carpenters in a murderous mood, it gets covered up and forgotten behind siding, drywall and paneling. But floors, if done poorly, will come back to haunt you. That squeak just outside the bedroom door is an annoyance for which there is no quick fix. But the problems can go beyond the floor itself. The blame for eaves that look like a roller coaster once the gutters are hung often rests squarely on a carelessly built floor two stories below.
Haste doesn't usually create these problems; using inappropriate materials and not knowing where to spend extra time does. In fact, by using production techniques and materials, rolling second-story joists (tipping them up and nailing them in place) and sheathing them with plywood on a modest-sized house is a day's work for my partner and me.
As a framing contractor, I think speed and efficiency are my most important considerations. I'm not wasteful, but I don't care as much about the cost of the material as the speed with which I can put it together. Although parallel-chord floor trusses are more expensive than conventional floor joists, my five-man crew can set the floor trusses for a 2,800-sq. ft. house and nail down the plywood subfloor all in one day, for labor savings of 25% over 2x joist installation. I believe those labor savings more than offset the extra expense. What's more, I believe we end up with a stronger floor.There are several reasons that floor trusses can be installed faster. Trusses are engineered to exact lengths, so no blocking and cutting are required. As a bonus, their webbing—the diagonal and vertical 2x material inside the truss—provides more than enough room for wiring, plumbing and mechanicals, which means there should be no ill-planned cutting, boring or notching to repair later.
There is no "best" foundation. Depending on what part of the country you live in, the preference might be slab, post and girder or full basement. In many areas, the crawl space is common. A crawl-space foundation consists simply of bearing walls surrounding a system of piers, posts and girders that support the floor. Crawl-space foundations are readily adaptable to a variety of sites, and they're relatively inexpensive.
The bearing walls are usually built of masonry block or poured concrete set on a concrete footing, and construction follows conventional techniques. It's the carpentry side of the job—the sills, the posts and the girders—that I'll cover here.
My daytime job is building. But after dinner I like to turn to my nighttime profession, which is singing and writing songs. My songwriting career doesn't require a lot of space, but I do need a room that is quiet enough to let me record my work without picking up the sound of my neighbor's table saw, or my foot thumping on the floor. On the other hand, I don't want to bother my neighbor or the rest of my family with the percussion tracks from my drum machine or the occasional fuzztone guitar riff.