SURE Construction: 03 Wall Framing

-- We are excited to have started building the SURE HOUSE in a parking lot on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken New Jersey. “SURE Construction” is a subset of our PopSci blog that we’ll use to chronicle our construction process. Check back often if you want to follow our progress and get a first hand view of how a sustainable and resilient house takes shape.

Simple Innovation

A strength of our design approach lies in the simplicity of our innovation. Watching our house being framed you might be hard-pressed to see how it’s different...unless you looked closely.

Insulating + Flood Loading

We started with a basic upgrade to conventional wood framing: 2x6 stud frame cavities for added insulation. We chose 16” instead of 24” spacing for added lateral strength to take on flood loading.

Easily Reproducible

The framing was typical enough that any framing crew could build it...something we see as a real plus for marketability. Here, top plates are interlocked to tie two walls together structurally as is typical practice for any framer.

House Bubble

However, where interior partition walls connect to an exterior wall, a subtle but important change is made. The white material is a vapor permeable air barrier that has to wrap behind the partition, and therefore be installed during framing. This detail allows for the creation of an unbroken air barrier that is critical to the functioning of our high performance building envelope. You’ll notice that (unlike where two interior partition walls meet) the top plates do not overlap, again a step taken to maintain the air barrier.

Adjustments for Perfection

A closer look at our wall framing uncovers a number of such small adjustments that morph conventional framing in the service of sustainability and resilience. For example, here tie-downs connect floor to wall framing to resist uplift from heavy storm winds and a framed pocket for an interior partition is insulated before the wall is sheathed.

Coastal Strength + Durability

For durability and strength all exposed structural elements are steel. This column is one of seven that make up the southern structural “wall” of our house.

Bracing for a Storm

Column bases are L-brackets that wrap the floor structure and are bolted on top....both measures to increase resistance to lateral flood loads, a core requirement of our resiliency strategy.

Storm Shutter Track

A c-channel on the exterior of these columns acts as a track for our movable shade and flood shutters.

...Next Step: Roof Framing