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How Much Does It Cost To Frame a House?

Author: Brian Eckert

House Framing Prices

The cost to frame a house is dependent on the cost of materials, primarily lumber, and labor. The cost of lumber has been soaring of late due to a recovering housing market, rising fuel costs, the disruption of lumber supplies, and increased international construction activity.

Almost all homes built these days have frames constructed from wood and there are three common framing techniques: timber frame, post and beam, and stick framing. For an explanation of the differences, have a look at this article.

Typical costs:

Framing constitutes 60% to 70% of the total cost of building a house. Labor accounts for the other 30% to 40%.

  • Lumber prices are always fluctuating and can be difficult to predict. This is especially true in today’s environment of rising prices. A reasonable estimate for house building lumber costs is somewhere around $15 to $30 per square foot. For an average sized home, this works out to approximately $35 to $55,000 (this price also includes the price of nails, etc.).
  • According to the National Association of Home Builders, current lumber prices are just under $350 per 1,000 board feet.
  • The labor costs to frame a home typically run $5 to $10 per square foot. This can fluctuate a bit depending on local labor costs and seasonal rates. It should work out to an average total of $15,000 to $30,000 to frame a building.
  • Aside from building a wood frame, another option that is gaining popularity among home owners is steel framing. Historically used in commercial construction, it is now being used in residential building due to its strength and its reduced impact on the environment. However, it does tend to be a bit more expensive than a house with a wooden frame. Some estimates put the average cost to steel frame a home at $1.50 per square foot. These costs tend to even out in the long run, though, because of the fact that a steel frame home holds up better against the elements and pests such as termites.

Additional costs:

  • When framing a house, many homeowners choose to have some kind of building wrap (such as the name brand Tyvek) laid over the framing to prevent air leakage but allow for breathability. It is relatively cheap; usually an entire house can be done for a few hundred dollars and if you choose to have it added to your home’s frame most laborers will install it as they go at minimal extra costs in labor.
  • Any changes in the building plans, even something simple such as changing the size or location of a door or window, will cause the building costs to go up. A solid, well thought out plan is the best way to keep framing costs down.
  • Repairing a wooden house frame is necessary from time to time if the wood rots. Most commonly floor joists, the beams that support floors or roofs, rot or need repair. Also girders, which span joists and provide a building’s main support, and sills, which rest on the foundation, experience similar problems. If your walls, floors or ceilings are sagging, it could mean that your house framing is in need of wood rot repair. If just a few sections of wood are rotted or warped a process known as “sistering”, whereby rot is removed and new wood pieces are attached to the existing one, could cost roughly $150 to $350 per floor joist or around $1,500 to $3,500 for an entire room. If there is extensive damage, the repairs get far more expensive. It might be necessary to jack up the house and replace a majority of the joists, girders and sills. If this is the case, the cost to repair all of the rotten wood in a home could work out to be $5,000 to $25,000 or possibly more. Again, general costs are very hard to figure out as they depend on how much wood is damaged and the importance of the rotted structure (how much weight it bears). Also, accessibility is an issue. For example, if a girder, sill or joist is easily accessed through a basement, crawl space, attic, etc, the costs will be lower than if a home does not have these access points. Additionally, if the rot was caused by termites or a similar insect infestation, extermination will be necessary. If you suspect your home’s frame needs repair, contact a contractor for a more detailed cost estimate to repair frames.

Shopping for framing a house:

If you have carpentry experience and want to significantly reduce the cost of new home construction, you might consider doing the framing yourself. For a rough guide on how to frame a house, check out ExtremeHowTo.com.

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