Designing Components That Are Carpenter-Friendly – Part 1

One of the most important aspects of a designer’s job is profitability. Profitability of the component manufacturer, as well as the profitability of the builder. This is all a given, but what thought is truly given to the profitability of the carpenters? The builder has more contact with the carpenters in most cases than they do the sales rep. for a lumber company or component manufacturer, so should not consideration be given to the people who erect and ultimately use the products that we design?

bullseye

In days gone by a builder would present a project for an estimate,  but engineering was not provided, the builder looked at the cost of components much in the same way any other materials, the lowest cost. We all know that the lowest cost of components does not paint the entire picture. The cost of bracing in both material cost and additional labor cost can cause the price of an apparently inexpensive rack of trusses to increase substantially.

The cost of bracing has been recognized before now and many component manufacturers now do look at this cost with an eye to reducing bracing where possible. It is a fine line we all walk to reduce bracing, while at the same time not pricing ourselves out of a job. Some bracing will always be required, extensive bracing may be reduced while keeping the overall cost of the job to the builder in the proper range. This is all common sense but should it not be also viewed that if we save the builder money, can we not increase our chances of repeat business by designing our components where possible to be user/carpenter friendly?

By designing our components with the carpenter’s efficiency in mind we gain a sales tool and advertising tool that costs the manufacturers very little. Carpenters just like any other group of contractors talk to each other. Word of a more efficient component manufacturer gets around. The better the framing crew, the more dependable they are the more the builder wants to use that crew, the more the builder uses that crew the more the builder listens when the carpenter recommends what products or manufacturers to use.

With that thought in mind which manufacturer would you rather use?

  1. The one that causes typically a dozen extra hours of labor and additional material in bracing?
  2. The manufacturer that keeps the framer as well as the builder in mind when designing trusses?

I have worked as a carpenter, a lead carpenter, a shell contractor and a truss designer, I can tell you that it is a no brainer, the more efficient designs will win every time. Carpenters and their crews may not always have a say, but when they do it will always be for a manufacturer that does not cost them excessive time with bracing. Builders who go for the best bottom line price, regardless efficiency, rarely do so many times without the additional cost coming directly from their pocket. Excessive additional bracing in material and labor will be passed on by the framing contractor to the builder, if the builder cannot pass it on to the manufacturer than the builder will find another manufacturer.

Bill Tucker – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.