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Rob Tucker
Kama'aina

7075 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  03:56:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ericlp

with the earthquakes we get around here ... I'm thinking wood will outperform steel. As wood will flex unlike steel. But what's just me. There is a lot info on the net. That's also a concern with cracking of slabs during a nice jolt.



I think that rumor was planted by the timber industry. I worked for eighteen months on the recovery from the Northridge Earthquake. I will never build a wood frame home again.

Engineering so distrusts wood frame that wood has become an infill material between metal connectors. Simpson has made billions selling steel connections for wood. Steel doesn't crack, split or break.

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DrWho
Newbie

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  07:16:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
what about building a house from cinder blocks. the roof would still be wood but block walls

the doc is in...
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jlgerk
Da Kine

297 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  07:28:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
@DrWho
why would the roof have to be wood ?
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Rob Tucker
Kama'aina

7075 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  08:03:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You can build from cinder blocks. They would need to be grouted and have rebar, otherwise they are kind of a death trap in an earthquake. There are only two main downsides to block work.

1) It requires mason's skills. Masons are expensive.
2) The thermal mass properties are kind of a negative in the tropics. The masonry holds heat.

Indeed, why use wood for the roof framing? Why is everyone so in love with a material that rots, burns, cracks, splits, warps, has a high waste factor, gets eaten by termites and has a lot of inherent defects? It is not even cheap.

Rarely does business invest in wood buildings. Prudent money doesn't build with wood.
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Carey
Punatic

5710 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  09:02:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Down the line, we are looking at replacing the wood-purlin/metal roof of our house with a product like the structural roof panels of Castleblock (but the corrugated roof is still fairly new, though the last owner drill pukas all over, hills & valleys...can only think skylights for the termites ;~) Would love it if there was that product in an aluminum system to set on the aluminum rafters...but that is just to keep this more of a one metal house...not a real possibility to do completely, just like wood products, they sneak in...

most of the buildings in the industrial lots ARE of steel, have not actually seen any angle steel in supports, but you will see I-Beam, Square (& rectangular) tube, and Cchannels used a lot in those buiding constructions...

One of the biggest things that holds homeowners from using those systems are that they are PERCEIVED to be more expensive (not so in the long run.,...hence the industrial reliance on them), too "industrial", "cold" (should be an advantage here) & hard to work with... Anyone who has been to the restaurant row by Big Island Candies can see how different owners have worked with those metal frame structures...& many of my friends who absolutely adored the old Miyos, have gotten very attached, very quickly, to the new Miyos...perhaps that is one of the best examples of the pros & cons of many of the questions here, as the old was massive high wood P&P & the new metal frame on slab...
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DanielP
Punatic

1651 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  09:05:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So Rob,

$ for $, How does old school stick frame compare to steel frame start to finish, quality opinions aside?

What is the learning curve to change from wood frame to steel frame and what are the tool-up(needs)costs?

My gut tells me that stick frame is more economical since it is still the primary style of mass produced housing.

Dan
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kalakoa
Punatic

2706 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  09:23:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Again, yet, still: when the "superior non-wood products" are available at a retail store, I'll use them -- sure, wood sucks for any number of reasons, but you can get it today.
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Bullwinkle
Punatic

3126 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  09:23:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
my background being boats...... wood always ez to repair (sistering) .... steel and plastic boats tougher to do structural refits
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Carey
Punatic

5710 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  10:01:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, I am ONLY answering based on our odd structure as we have a much older SIP than the systems that Rob uses..

Ours are extruded aluminum frame systems done in a metric format..by who knows mfg company, came in pre-assembled 1 meter by 8' sections (with the odd 7.5cm panel depth, vs a more standard wall depth of 10cm (4") in a container & at least 4 of these were constructed in our neighborhood...only 1 was completely unmodified...ours was modified, by adding a permitted ohana & new (unfortunely larger) windows

Our actual SIP system walls needed only socket wrenches, & a screw driver, the bottom sill strip needed a system to attach to the slab (they used the bullet like bolts)...all of the individual panels have extruded erector set like connector plates...so in all reality, a pre-teen kid that can construct with an erector set & handle a socket wrench & screw driver could have put up the walls (the windows had been pre-installed, the doors were installing 3' pre-hung into a nailing strip that was installed in the door wall extrusions) the aluminum rafters are attached to the walls with bolt though & connector clips, redwood purlins were power nailed into the aluminum rafter channels, roof screwed into the purlins... change an interior (non-load bearing) wall, just unbolt the connectors, wiggle out the sill bolts, lift up the sill plate extrusion, re-attached the sill extrusion, set the wall in the sill extrusion, re-bolt the connector plates.... changing load bearing is much the same, as long as the rafters are supported.... but that is not a whole lot unlike stick....

The big problem is that OUR system was manufactured in a thinner wall, metric format, & some idiots permitted those windows to be replaced with larger ones... with no framing of any kind & no architect or engineer of any training SHOULD have allowed, & esp. PERMITTED that! But we should all know by now that training is not necessary in our building dept.!
ADDED: well, that AND much of the wood was completely eatern up by termites...every bit of bottom trim, plywood used in the carport ceiling, some of the redwood purlins, all of the door frames & wood doors were eaten, yet, oddly enough, none of the wood used in the door attaching nailstrips, actually screw strips, was eaten....have no idea why that wood has been totally ignored, all of that wood was surround on 3 sides by the aluminum extrusion, one side was to the eaten up doors...go figure!

Edited by - Carey on 10/21/2013 10:26:59
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Rob Tucker
Kama'aina

7075 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  12:19:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven't been advocating SIPs here, though I do like them a lot. Just advocating, at a minimum, that for stick framing methods steel framing is superior to wood framing by most any measure.

DanielP asks: "$ for $, How does old school stick frame compare to steel frame start to finish, quality opinions aside?"

Hard to give a definitive answer. Wood prices seem to flucuate a lot by market forces. Steel has been generally stable. Price stability means if you get your construction loan based on wood framing and a hurricane wipes out a major gulf city you will be likely under budgeted as wood pricing rises with demand.

Go to Home Depot and compare the cost of a metal stud with a wood stud for an easy quick answer.

Light gauge steel is cold rolled in Honolulu. Plan your material well and you will have almost no waste. Most skilled wood framers figure 5% to 10% waste factor into their lumber lists. When you are cutting lumber and tossing scrap on the ground that is money. You can't order a wood F.J. 14'-4-3/4", You can order a steel F.J. that way. Steel joists can also come with penetrations in place for plumbing and electrical runs... as do studs.

"Quality opinions aside?" Geez. Why would you want to disregard quality when building your own home?

I come at my opinion as a master carpenter by trade. I don't even try to keep up with wood pricing any more because I don't use it. My customers have found that using modern materials and methods they can build a superior home for competitive budgets... or they wouldn't follow my advice. Whether it is a few bucks above or below wood costs on any given day is minor stuff compared to the quality of construction and reduced long term costs of maintenance and replacement and tenting.

Most of my clients are on tight budgets. They want the most bang for their buck and don't want to deal with repairs in their retirements.

Perhaps few people remember here twenty years ago when DHHL did a track for native Hawaiians on the north end. The homes were condemned after six months. Crappy wood. One client who did not take my advice did an exposed T&G wood roof deck. The lumber arrived to the site with termites on the load. He sent it back, got another load. When the ceiling was up he and his wife did a beautiful job of staining and finishing the ceiling. Looked great.... for a few weeks. Then the lumber dried out and shrank and he had hundreds of feet of white joints opening up to be meticulously re-stained and finished.

By code framing lumber is supposed to be about 7% moisture content. Can't find that in a local lumber yard.

Are you aware that according to federal statistics the average life of a wood frame home on the Big Island is 33 years? I read that to mean you generally lose 3% per year in depreciation. Who would want to invest their money in something that loses 3% off the top? ANybody out there looking to buy a 30 or 40 year old wood frame home? Not many.

The basic news I have is that better building do not need to cost more. You just have to accept this is the 21st century and be open to different materials and methods. Wood framing is 19th century stuff.

The single largest concern I have is craftsmanship. There are lots of people who call themselves carpenters. Few have had any training. Most seem to think if they can pull the trigger on a nail gun and own a skil saw they are carpenters. The apprenticeship programs are usually four years of training. After the Northridge Earthquake the most common fault I saw was simply lousy workmanship, followed by broken and shattered wood. I've also seen lots of people get their lumber lists estimated and forget the Simpson connectors - they seem to think the connectors a minor items... till they get the bill.

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bluesboy
Da Kine

322 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  13:33:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
good information - thanks Rob.

just for my clarification - beams, posts, joists, study, rafters, purlins - that's all steel? what about flooring and walls? what are good options for that? manufactured flooring and sheetrock?
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Rob Tucker
Kama'aina

7075 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  15:27:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Depends on how far you want to go. I specialize in non wood buildings but don't get involved in finishes. The only wood in my home are the cabinets - which I made from trees on my property - and I regret it.

I don't deal too much with the rafter/purlin designs or trusses. I prefer structural insulated panel roofs which lend themselves to vaulted ceilings and minimal roof frame. But the technical answer is yes, rafters and purlins can all be steel.
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4antares
malihini

74 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  16:13:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My two bits ( or whatever it's worth). Post and pier has all the pluses mentioned. As far as earthquakes go how many old houses do you see in your island travels that are built on flimsy post and pier that have withstood countless earthquakes and are still standing? They flex with the ground unlike big concrete slabs which crack when the ground undulates.
Post and pier looks like it belongs here. It requires considerably less destructive site prep and can be adapted to some terrain variation. Rip and roll with a concrete slab requires total destruction of the land (rape and ruin as my spouse calls it) and looks like mainland commercial tract development with absolutely no natural ambience. Plus you end up with a huge yard to mow.
My neighbors with slabs have cracks, some of them significant. The ground here isn' t stable regardless of how much track packing was done. Pele makes it vibrate to varying degrees constantly which makes it shift and settle. Concrete doesn't like that. Slabbed neighbors have also had problems with flooding when we get serious rain.
Neither method is perfect. You just have to choose your poison.
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DanielP
Punatic

1651 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  16:26:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Rob,

I think that you could do better answering my questions. They are sincere. I have worked with SIP's and love them, in the right applications. I have been a carpenter all my life; a licensed GC for over 2 decades, retired now (due to the downturn and repetative stress injuries) and am truly curious with my questions.
The overall cost of a new home is seldom directly proportional to the cost of a stud; come on.
I wasn't asking for a sales pitch.
How about this question: How long would it take you to train the average apprentice to become journeyman stud screwer? kidding.
Many thanks for Punaweb.

Regards, Dan
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Rob Tucker
Kama'aina

7075 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2013 :  16:56:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Daniel, With your experience you should well know that what you asked me was the equivalent of 'How much does a car cost'? But the fact is I don't track the wood frame stuff anymore... my customers do that.

My primary concern with building structures is that they are affordable, well built, energy efficient and will last for generations with minimal maintenance. I will add that I have more confidence in an owner built home than a contractor built home.
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