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PrecisionVision 11-15-2010 04:36 PM

Balloon Framing
 
I have a little carpentry knowledge and finally have the means to build my own home (plz don't try to talk me out of it - I'll take every precaution necessary:)). In my research i've temporarilly decided to balloon frame it. It'll be a very simple design; 32x56 rectangle, steep scissor trusses, let-in ledger at 8 feet to support I beams running the width of the house on both 'ends' (16ft deep) which will floor two lofts. Underneath one loft i'll have 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, but underneath the other will be a completely open kitchen and dining area with no structural interior walls. The reason i want to balloon frame it is I want the house completely enclosed as quickly as possible (in MN the weather can change quickly and i don't have the luxury of speed with my limited help from family and friends). In addition, i could imagine a whole 56ft long house of scissor trusses packs a huge punch of horizontal deflection.

First questions: What type of ledger will i need to support 32ft I beams with no interior support? Is this even feasible? Am I off my rocker? Thanks for everyone's help. I'm new to this forum so go easy on me.

Joe Carola 11-15-2010 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrecisionVision (Post 534808)
I have a little carpentry knowledge and finally have the means to build my own home (plz don't try to talk me out of it - I'll take every precaution necessary:)). In my research i've temporarilly decided to balloon frame it. It'll be a very simple design; 32x56 rectangle, steep scissor trusses, let-in ledger at 8 feet to support I beams running the width of the house on both 'ends' (16ft deep) which will floor two lofts. Underneath one loft i'll have 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, but underneath the other will be a completely open kitchen and dining area with no structural interior walls. The reason i want to balloon frame it is I want the house completely enclosed as quickly as possible (in MN the weather can change quickly and i don't have the luxury of speed with my limited help from family and friends). In addition, i could imagine a whole 56ft long house of scissor trusses packs a huge punch of horizontal deflection.

First questions: What type of ledger will i need to support 32ft I beams with no interior support? Is this even feasible? Am I off my rocker? Thanks for everyone's help. I'm new to this forum so go easy on me.

What do the blueprints say? What makes you think balloon framing is faster?

PaliBob 11-15-2010 05:05 PM

Precision, Welcome to the Forum
With your screen name and post I can tell that you are very precise about what you want to achieve.

Just remember that when you submit your plans to your Building Authority they will want to see a Plans buy Off.

How are you going to get by this problem? I honestly want to know
Good Luck
.

PrecisionVision 11-15-2010 05:22 PM

Joe - thanks for your reply. There are no blueprints for my design as of right now. I'm debating on talking with an architect to assure my ideas are sufficient, and I do have a strucural engineer in my family that will be assisting with the design.

For the second part, i read that after i secured the ledger I could completely enclose the house without having to hang the I beams. That would allow me to have the house exposed to the elements as little as possible.

PaliBob - Good question! Let's just say the county we'll be building in is quite 'loose' on house erection. In discussions with them, a simple design on a napkin will suffice to get the required building permit. They require only general building, electrical, and plumbing inspections and no sign-offs.

I really do appreciate ALL comments so please, keep them coming.

Joe Carola 11-15-2010 08:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrecisionVision (Post 534841)
Joe - thanks for your reply. There are no blueprints for my design as of right now. I'm debating on talking with an architect to assure my ideas are sufficient, and I do have a strucural engineer in my family that will be assisting with the design.

For the second part, i read that after i secured the ledger I could completely enclose the house without having to hang the I beams. That would allow me to have the house exposed to the elements as little as possible.

PaliBob - Good question! Let's just say the county we'll be building in is quite 'loose' on house erection. In discussions with them, a simple design on a napkin will suffice to get the required building permit. They require only general building, electrical, and plumbing inspections and no sign-offs.

I really do appreciate ALL comments so please, keep them coming.

Balloon framing will take you alot longer to frame and keep you water tight. Raising 16' + walls will not be easy especially for an inexperience with framing.

If you frame with 8' precuts you sit your 32' i-joists on the top plates and then you put your decking down. Now you can throw tarps on top of the decking and keep the house water tight. How will yopu keep the house water tight trying to raiosie 16' walls and then put ledgers on and then nail every single i-joists with hangers?

That will take you so much time and you will never be water tight because you have a huge whole at the top of the 16' plates. Are you following me so far?

1910NE 11-15-2010 09:00 PM

have you considered hiring out the shell? you might be surprised once you do the math (including the realities of framing solo) to find that its a better plan in the end.

if you are worried about the weather/ time of year, then this would be the fastest way to get a water tight structure.

PrecisionVision 11-16-2010 10:42 AM

Joe - thanks for your input. I really do apprecaite it. You're no doubt right, and this will probably sound dumb, and maybe the people at renovation headquarters are crazy, but won't I be able to roof the house as soon as all exterior walls are erected? In addition, i was thinking just 12' walls: with steep scissor trusses I could stud in a 4' foot pony wall in the lofts not TOO far from the exterior. That should give me sufficient room for what I want the 2nd floor for.

Maybe i should just hire the shell out. I'm probably in WAYYY over my head, but i'm a rookie with a passion. The project really won't get underway until Spring so i have lots of time to discuss, learn, and plan.

Thanks everyone! Keep those comments coming!

Termite 11-16-2010 08:01 PM

There's a lot of good reasons that professionals rarely if ever balloon frame structures anymore. It is an antequated and generally inefficient practice, and I agree with Joe that it really offers few if any advantages.

Whatever you do, do yourself a big favor and consult with an architect or engineer before diving off this cliff uninformed. From your footing up, there are a million ways to create a lifelong problem/liability instead of a quality home for a lifetime.

Supporting the beam that will be needed to support the 32' clear span will present massive challenges, especially if you balloon frame. That'll be too much load to transfer to a ledger, fastened to the studs in a manner that causes them to want to split with the grain. It just won't work in the real world. Platform framed, it is possible. It'll take a massive/heavy/expensive beam, but it is possible because there are studs under the beam, in the wall, down to the foundation. That's why you need a professional designer.

I've seen this a hundred times in my career. People with great ambition and decent skills can build great products with the proper support, but the same people that set out assuming they can do a good job and don't know any better end up with a structure that causes them nothing but problems because they wanted to save some money on proper design services.

DangerMouse 11-16-2010 08:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thekctermite (Post 535498)
you need a professional designer.

I've seen this a hundred times in my career. People with great ambition and decent skills can build great products with the proper support, but the same people that set out assuming they can do a good job and don't know any better end up with a structure that causes them nothing but problems because they wanted to save some money on proper design services.

Absolutely! We had an architect/engineer draw up our plans and he's been a big help with this home after the fact as well. Don't let anyone deter you from doing this yourself, it can be done if you have common sense and know your limitations. Mine turned out to be HVAC. I'm too dam old to be crawling around in the crawl space running ducts. lol But all the electric, framing, plumbing, joists, floors, windows, doors, drywall, etc. I've done myself and we have a beautiful home... though still in the works.... Po)

DM

PrecisionVision 11-16-2010 09:32 PM

Thanks for the extra thoughts (and the vote of confidence DangerMouse). I will be working with a structural engineer that will draw up what will be needed. I'm really just trying to get my feet wet so I know what I'm talking about when I go to sit down with him this winter. Despite wanting this house to be done "right", I still want to be an integral part of its production. I'm not trying to save money, as kctermite is suggesting, but rather have the want and desire to accomplish something spectacular and to be able to say, "yeah - I did that". I'm sure anyone here can relate to that.

As far as balloon framing, y'all have convinced me otherwise, so I thank you! Maybe I'll start with a popsicle stick built house.

PV

DangerMouse 11-16-2010 09:48 PM

I've saved t$e$n$s o$f t$h$o$u$s$a$n$d$s doing most of the work here myself. I always look forward to getting that magic green sticker for each phase's inspection. Had a couple setbacks, but with the help from the guys here, I got through.

DM

Joe Carola 11-16-2010 09:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrecisionVision (Post 535566)
Thanks for the extra thoughts (and the vote of confidence DangerMouse). I will be working with a structural engineer that will draw up what will be needed. I'm really just trying to get my feet wet so I know what I'm talking about when I go to sit down with him this winter. Despite wanting this house to be done "right", I still want to be an integral part of its production. I'm not trying to save money, as kctermite is suggesting, but rather have the want and desire to accomplish something spectacular and to be able to say, "yeah - I did that". I'm sure anyone here can relate to that.

As far as balloon framing, y'all have convinced me otherwise, so I thank you! Maybe I'll start with a popsicle stick built house.

PV

There's nothing better then building something yourself and looking back at it and admiring it, especially your own house. This will be something you can obviously say you built with your own two hands and pass it down to your children and grandchildren.

Work out the design and framing with the engineer. After that when your ready to frame, get the man power you need and maybe higher a framer to work along side you and you build it together this way you can learn form him and get the house framed a little faster and you can keep it water tight.

PrecisionVision 11-17-2010 11:32 AM

Thanks for everyone's help. I really do appreciate it. What if I were to go with a single story home but with attic trusses over the lofts? With a 32' wide house, a loft that is 16' deep, how much usable living space could I get if i were to have it designed with a 4 ft knee wall? How steep is too steep for the trusses? Could i get enough room for a good size bedroom and bath?

PV

Michael Thomas 11-17-2010 01:52 PM

I inspect a lot of balloon framed housing - though most of it is 80+ years old... and I'm at a loss as to why someone would want us undertake such construction today: it's harder to find decent quality studs long enough, it's harder to support horizontal members spanning the distances under discussion, it's harder to fire stop, it's harder to prevent thermal loops, and it's impossible to find contractors who know how to detail it properly because there is no prescriptive detailing in the codes of many of the structural and energy efficiency details, etc.


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