Professional framers can help construct a new home or office. The framing process is a critical stage in construction. The term "framing" refers to the process of erecting the structural outline of a new building. This structural outline is what holds the drywall and siding, the windows and doors, and the roof. It’s also where the plumbing and electrical wiring is concealed. The frame can be made of lumber, concrete, brick or steel, but most residential homes are built using lumber.
The cost to frame a house varies, depending on the house size, house design, site elevation (or slope), regional cost of labor and materials used. Steel and brick are much more expensive than builder-grade lumber. Unique designs requiring specialized plans also increase framing costs because more labor and expert knowledge are needed than for a standard, ranch-style home. House size dictates cost—the larger the house, the more materials and the more work time required.
In most areas in the U.S., approved building plans and the proper permits are required to begin construction and framing. Carpenters or a specialized framing team will then come in and erect what will be the structural support of the building. Framing is very precise work. The walls need to be perfectly plumb, and the joists need to be exactly parallel to ensure the strength and integrity of the frame.
Price per square foot
The price per square foot to frame a house depends on multiple factors, says Luis Ceballos of L.C.L. Construction in Phoenix, Arizona. The floor plan, site elevation and design of the home, as well as whether or not the customer is providing the materials, all affect the price per square foot. Specialty details such as soffits, high ceilings and tall windows increase the overall cost of framing. Here are some examples of cost from L.C.L. Construction:
Labor and hardware for framing a house: ~ $4 per square foot
- Hardware includes nails, hangers for the trusses, Simpson connections, etc—all the components required to fasten the wood together but not the wood itself.
Lumber only for framing a house: ~ $5–$10 per square foot, depending on the type of wood
Labor and lumber: ~ $9–$21 per square foot, depending on the type of wood
Framing for a custom 5,000-square-foot home: $35,000 total
Cost per square foot: $7
The homeowner provided the lumber for this job.
The price included labor, hardware and a crane to set the trusses. This custom home had 14-foot ceilings with arches and arched windows.
- The job took four weeks with a six-person work crew.
To frame a house, planning is critical. Ceballos of L.C.L. Construction has five framing crews that work full-time, and his project calendar typically three weeks out when it comes to scheduling. Homeowners working with a general contractor most likely will not need to directly hire the framers themselves. Most general contractors work with framing crews on a regular basis and can take care of the hiring. Homeowners acting as the project manager on a home construction should research framing companies, read reviews, and make sure all details are spelled out clearly on contracts—including labor and materials warranties—before moving forward. It’s important to have building plans drawn and approved well in advance so that permits can be pulled when needed, either by the framers or by the homeowner. Last but not least, homeowners should specify clearly whether they will provide the lumber and materials for framing or expect the framer to obtain them.