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The floor to floor height is 10’6″. The walls therefore (subtracting the second floor thickness – joists + plywood) are 9’6″.  The contractor achieved this height by using (2) bottom plates at 1 1/2″ high each, some off-the-shelf precut stud length,  and (4) top plates.  To clarify, the top and bottom plates are the horizontally orientated wood pieces that are at the top and bottom of the walls, while the studs are the verticals.  Conventional framing only requires (1) bottom plate, and  (2) top plates.  If you’re savvy about it, you can get away with (1) top plate.  What was done in this case, although perhaps faster, is a bad condition primarily because it creates more surface area in the walls where there is no insulation (aka thermal bridges), creating weak spots in the overall performance of the building envelope.  In New Orleans this is less critical than is cold weather climates, but it still is an unfortunate result.  I hope to explore advanced framing techniques more in the future, if for no other reason than to take control of the results of the framing, rather than leaving them upto the contractor.  That being said, I did draw framing plans and framing elevations, which is more than can be said for the typical house.  The problem is, they didn’t seem to look at any of those drawings.  So sad… all those nights debating where each piece of wood went, trying to minimize material usage, all for naught.

In the photos you see roughly an L shaped set of rooms, and then an area where there are no walls.  This area, will be the living room.  It will be double height, allowing the second floor to overlook the space.  Because the exterior walls of the living room are double tall, and are not braced by any floors (on the outside corner of the house), the studs in that wall will be 2×12’s.  This is in lieu of using smaller steel members which would be more spatially efficient, but likely quite a bit more expensive.  The framers plan is to build all the second floor walls, and then install the double height walls, one stud at a time.  That should be interesting.

As an aside, Southern Yellow Pine is the standard lumber for construction in the South.  It is specified as the wood to be used on this project within my engineer’s notes.  However, for some reason the contractors purchased Douglas Fir from Montana.  They had essentially built the whole floor before I realized any of this.  Unfortunately, I keep finding myself in the position, “Should I make a big deal out of this?” Another issue arose today when I looked up, standing on the first floor, towards the second floor plywood subfloor today, and noticed the stamp on the wood which read “this side up.”  It was down.  What is the deal? I gotta get the engineer out there so he can fight some of these battles for me.