Speed Up Your Post and Beam Framing – StrawBale.com

Written by Andrew Morrison

Want to speed up your post and beam framing? Here’s a great tip. This is something my crews figured out a couple years ago and I’ve been trying to find the best way to explain it: video, drawings, teaching people at workshops, etc. Finally, I’ve decided that I just need to write about it and give you a hand drawn sketch to get the ball rolling. I’ve been teaching it at workshops for years, but have not had time to make a video about it. So, here it is:

The concept is taken from conventional framing where the walls are built on the ground and then raised into position. One of the biggest problems with building post and beam houses is that all of the posts need to be plumbed and braced as they are installed and then checked again after the beams have been set. Once the beams are in place and the post are locked into position, the bracing can come off. That bracing, although used in other places on the job site, often gets broken or thrown away and that’s a big waste. So now, you’ve got wasted limber and slow going. Sounds like a poor way to start the job.Frame Details (Layout)

Here’s how our system works. Take a 2×4 and tack nail it to your bottom plate (in this case, your 4×4 which will be part of your toe ups). Complete the framing layout on the two pieces of lumber just as you would during conventional construction. In other words, mark the location of all the posts on both pieces of wood: the bottom plate and the top plate as shown in the image above.

Now separate the two plates and place them on the floor system (slab, framed floor, etc). Insert your posts per the layout and attach them to the plates. Now you can stand the wall in one long section (or several sections depending on the wall length). The key here is in the plumbing of the wall. Because your layout is exact on both plates, all you have to do is plumb the end of the wall and the entire wall ends up plumb for its length! That’s wicked fast!
Frame Details (Sectional View)Now lay your beam on top of the 2×4 top plate and nail them together as shown in the sectional view. Be sure to avoid nailing in the middle of the “stud bays” as that’s where plumbers and electricians will want to drill their holes. Keeping the nails in a common pattern will allow them to avoid the nails and will help them keep their bits sharp. They’ll love you for it! Once the beams are in place, you can start to straighten the walls as necessary. The cool thing is that if your beams are straight, you won’t have much work to do in order to get the walls straight. Bonus!

Frame Details (Overhead View)Install the interior walls and make sure that all of the walls are tied together by chiseling out a section of the beams (dado) the depth of the 2x interior top plate and then crossing your interior plates over the top of the dado. You can then nail down through the intersecting plate and voila, you are tied together and flush. See the overhead view here.

happy face on paperThis system is far superior to any other framing system for post and beam I have seen or used. I think you’ll love it and your framers will too!

Want to learn more about straw bale houses and how to build one? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 16 Day Straw Bale eCourse! Find out more HERE.

8 Responses

  1. I have a home already but have been wanting to use straw bales for my Barn/Workshop. I am planning on using telephone poles and 40 chickenhouse rafters. I would like to have about 40×30 concreted floor and addition 3x 40 walled but gravel flow for storing farm equipment.

    How would you go about setting up the foundation for this type of project?

  2. You may need to install the poles individually in the grounds with appropriate concrete footings. I worry a bit about burying wood in the ground, but it can be done successfully. once the poles are all installed, you would then pour the footing for the bales. This is more of a bond beam style construction, just enough to get the bales up off the ground and wide enough to support them and the toe ups. Finally, after installing rigid foam insulation on the inside of the perimeter wall, I would pour the slab. Be sure that the insulation will end up hidden under the thickness of the wall plaster. You will need to hold the perimeter concrete wall back from the edge of the bale layout so that everything lines up appropriately.

  3. Are you placing the “wall” of posts on top of the foundation wall that the bales will sit on? If so, how do you attach the posts? Rebar, metal braces or what? I’d like to use the post and beam method, but I don’t want to use treated poles or put the poles in the ground. Is it ok to use untreated cedar if I don’t put it in the ground, if so, what is the best method for attaching the posts to the foundation wall?

  4. Indeed you can place the post and beam structure directly on the foundation or on a raised floor frame. The toe up is used as a mud sill and is bolted to the foundation per code requirements. The posts are attached to the toe up/sill with approved steel connectors and nails.

    Mud sill material (cedar or PT) will depend on what is allowed in your jurisdiction.

  5. I am on a very limited budget, Andrew. About $2,000. Would that be enough and how long does it take to make a complete house, using this method?

  6. Hi Ashley. I don’t know if you put the comma in the wrong place, but there is no way that $2,000 is enough to build a house with. Even if you did all the labor yourself, you would be well beyond $2,000. The only way to build a house for that cost would be to salvage almost all of the materials, do all the labor yourself, and keep the footprint below 400 square feet.

    The average straw bale house will take about 6-9 months to build and will likely cost around $150/SF to build (That’s an average so there is room on either side of that number).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.