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  • Writer's pictureBDR Partners

The Advantages of Wood Framing Utilization on Student Housing Projects

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

When planning your next student housing project, one of the earliest decisions you must make is whether or not to utilize wood framing.  Wood has many advantages over other types of framing but, if not properly designed and constructed, your project will not meet expectations.  However, with proper design and construction, wood can meet or exceed code requirements for projects up to 5-stories in height.  Wood is a renewable resource, generally less expensive than other materials, and is readily available.  Labor costs tend to be lower than other framing options.  Wood is lighter in weight, which typically lowers the cost of building foundations.  Constructing wood framing is faster than other materials, and design revisions can be quickly accommodated.  Some construction, such as panels and trusses, can be engineered and constructed off-site, thus improving quality control and further reducing labor costs.

Proper planning and safeguards during the development process are crucial.  Developing a set of design guidelines for your team to follow is a vital step.  Consult with trusted industry design and construction professionals to develop the design guidelines and ensure they are followed closely throughout the development process.  Design guidelines should address general minimum design criteria for load design, shrinkage, floor framing, roof framing, sheathing, anchors, structural layout, structural design, and construction/inspection requirements.

Select a design team and contractor that have proven success in wood construction.  Obtain a list of references and fully vet your proposed team.  Ensure the design guidelines are incorporated into all agreements with your team, and refer back to them frequently.

Be prepared to conduct peer reviews on the structural design to ensure all design factors have been considered and accommodated.  In addition, frequent and timely inspections by the Structural Engineer of Record are necessary to ensure the design is being properly executed in the field.  Require that the Structural Engineer of Record sign-off on each floor prior to the cover-up of any framing member.  The Structural Engineer of Record must ensure in writing that all members are installed properly and that the moisture content of the structural members is within the tolerance specified prior to cover-up.

Taking these additional steps will go a long way to ensure your project is a success!

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