Students learn to frame a house by measuring, cutting, placing, and fastening each framing member themselves. Once foundation piers are set and topped with metal termite shields, students secure a network of 6×6 wood sill beams atop the piers to receive floor framing. First floor joists follow, and—in this region prone to tropical weather events—students gain ample experience nailing hurricane ties to fasten every joist to its adjacent rim member. Students are excited to apply a plywood subfloor that provides both a stable walking and working surface and an opportunity to see the home’s footprint in its true dimensions for the first time.

A particularly momentous occasion on each build is the framing and raising of the home’s first wall. Students learn how quickly walls seem to go up at this stage in the process. First floor walls are followed by second floor framing, plywood subfloor, and walls, and finally, roof framing and stairs. Later, once walls have been sheathed, students complete the framing process by inserting fire blocking between each vertical framing member.

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“Four months on a construction site, in my mind, is the fast track to becoming an architect with more than good ideas, but rather an architect with good ideas that will get traction because they are rooted in a painful and real understanding of the building process.”

– Neena Verma, Alumna UB9

“My most memorable day was just before Mardi Gras and we were pushing hard to get our framing inspection done before the break. We had mostly packed up when we realized the fireblocking wasn’t completed upstairs. My team, exhausted and definitely ready to go, asked me to make the executive decision whether to rally and finish up the fireblocking or to do it the next day. We opted to put all hands on deck and knock it out. The effort was amazing! We had every single person either cutting, taking measurements, labeling blocking, nailing, hauling buckets of wood up and down in a bucket and pulley! I think back to this moment often. The thought of doing that extra work when we were already so tired seemed really impossible. But when we all worked together (as cliche as it sounds!), it was actually really fun(!) and really fast. I think that this day marked a significant moment in our team building and our morale.”

Ali Rex, Alumna UB10