Cottonwood Modern – Framing Update

October 8, 2012 — 20 Comments

Progress is coming along on the Cottonwood Modern house. I know I promised to provide some more frequent updates than I did on the last project I focused on and as a result, I put together this framing update. If you’re new here or simply want to catch up a bit, the previous update post covering some initial site work, grade beams and other mind-numbingly spectacular dirt-related things can be found here.

Let’s get this framing party started shall we?


Floor joist framing from front

Oooo, look at all that framing.


I’ve actually combined three job site visits into this update, there just isn’t enough progress to keep things interesting otherwise.


floor joist framing at cantilevers

In this picture (and the one above it) the framers have started framing up the two garages in the rear of the photo. In the front, you can see the steel for the cantilevered rooms.


floor joist framing and HVAC at cantilevers

Another look at the flooring for the cantilevered rooms. There will be three in total, one for the master bedroom, one for the main living room, and one for the game room (located down by the pavilion.) You can just see the beginning of the first floor HVAC duct work but I include a few other photos that will show things a bit more clearly.


floor joist framing and HVAC at cantilevers

closeup look at perimeter floor registers at cantilevers

This is a view looking down at the duct work that supplies air at the perimeter of one of the cantilevered rooms. The duct work is wrapped in plastic on the off-chance that it rains before the everything gets closed up. You can also see that the openings to the linear slot diffusers have tape running across the top. Just a level of protection so “things” and “stuff” can’t get inside the ductwork


temporary plastic protection for insulated duct work in crawlspace

Every day the HVAC guys have to layout and secure plastic tarps out over the work they’ve installed. Once the actual duct work is wrapped in plastic they won’t worry about laying out these large sheets.


underside look at cantilevers room with decking

This is a site trip approximately two weeks after the pictures above. A lot more framing has gone in, along with some more steel erection at the cantilevered rooms.


close up look at the underside of the cantilevered rooms

Here is a look at the underside of the cantilevers. Eventually the entire underside will get sprayed with rigid foam insulation – it will help stiffen things up a bit while providing an adequate amount of R-value to the floor assembly.


sub-floor decking at recessed bathrooms

This picture is a bit out off topic with everything else shown here but I thought you might like to see what happens when we recess a bathroom floor. Rather than lower the joists around such a small space, we just sister on 2x’s to the floor joists and cut in the subfloor decking. This way we can thick-set the tile going into the bathroom and have a walk in shower with no curb … much cleaner this way.


framing continues

In this shot, you can see the start of the pavilion off to the left hand side of the picture. You can look here for a 3D rendering if you want to see roughly what this area will look like.

The contractor is actually about to start drilling piers for the pool so this area will look a lot different in about two weeks.


Isokern fireplace at pavilion

This is an Isokern fireplace. We use these a lot because they work so well and the proportions are a lot nicer than most pre-manufactured fireplaces.


Isokern fireplace at pavilion - weather protection

I included this picture simply because I was amused by the blue plastic tarp the contractor wrapped around the top of the chimney stack. There was something about it that is hard to put into words, if I was a better photographer, I wouldn’t have to try.


second floor framing and possible future deck area

This is a view of the front of the house, just to the left of the main entry. There are a lot of trees along the front elevation of this house. In fact, the front yard setback was 35′ but we pushed the entire house back to 75′ so we could avoid cutting down any of the trees.


approach towards roof terrace

This is another view of the same area, you can start to get an idea of the scape of this house (it’s pretty large.) as a result of our last site visit, we decided it would be a good idea to try to turn the roof in this front area into a deck off the 2nd floor playroom. See where that guy is? That would be the deck area.


second floor framing and possible future deck area

second floor framing and possible future deck area

This is a look at the roof area we are currently looking at turning into a roof deck. It would work out perfectly … it wasn’t part of the original programming but walking out on the roof, there is now way we couldn’t at least try to get the owners to consider the possibility. I sent them a photo of the roof, explained the idea and they said to go ahead and price it out to see if they think it’s worth it (fingers crossed.)


second floor framing

This is a look back towards the two garages where you can see the progress that was made in the last few weeks. Actually, I am standing on the progress from the last two weeks – framing has moved on to the second level.


second floor framing

wood framing at rear elevation

This is the rear of the house … I am including a photo to show the large I-beam that we have as a header over two large windows. In the picture above, you can see a dark horizontal band just above two large rectangular openings (which will eventually be infilled with large windows.) This is not a steel beam because of the span … it’s steel because we will have a steel and wood trellis hanging of it!


second floor steel header and cantilevered rooms

Another look at the steel I-beam above the windows. The concrete in front will be covered in stone and be a terrace serving those rooms (the Dining room and an office.)


close up look at the steel I Beam header for trellis

Last look at how the I-beam sits in the framing – nice and clean … just how I like it.

Hope you enjoyed this update, look for some major progress in the next one.





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  • Rae

    Would really like an update on Cottonwood. Rae

    • I am in the process of 3 (count ’em … 3) posts on Cottonwood.

      Ask and you shall receive (most of the time)


  • Rob

    That recessed floor has to have caused a few grumbles with the framers. Although these folks seem to be executing with a tremendous amount of skill. I shudder at the thought of their sq footage rate.

    • We have a good framing team on the project but in this particular case, they missed it one the drawings which is why they had to come back and cut in the subfloor as shown.

  • architectrunnerguy

    Nice Bob. Thanks for the update.

    • sure thing – I need to make it a point to do them more often so I don’t have to include 21 photos…

  • TALV58

    Great post Bob. I really love look at the process and the ways things are done in different areas such as framing the roofing members. I think I may have actually lost that skill since trusses. It looks like a wonderful project.

    • Thanks Todd, I am excited to see things develop as well

  • Dude. That has to be exciting.

  • Those people must have a LOT of money. I like the roof deck idea. And I want a blue tarp for my chimney

    • you might be surprised to hear how affordable a blue tarp can be…

      The owners are up for the deck, it just comes down to the $$$ (hopefully it’s just $)

      • Kat

        I think you should start rating your projects that way. Let’s see, one of the playhouses might be a $ while this house is a $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

        • If this house was on one of the coasts, it would be considered extremely cheap to build. It has some expensive components to it but those are maximized out for effect while the vast majority of the house is pretty straight forward.

  • Thanks for sharing. Do you get any contractor complaints about the recessed floor and having to cut in the subfloor sheathing around the joists? I know we usually get comments from contractors when we ask them to do things differently than how they “always do it”, because then it’s “not easy” for them.

    • No – we don’t get complaints too often. Most contractors are really excited about building one of our jobs and they don’t want the reputation of being difficult to work with. I imagine if this was speculative work I’d be singing a different tune.

  • jmb

    Love the details and explanation that go with it. This the reason why I feel (my opinion) alot of us got into architecture. Miss the days of doing small residential projects that allowed me to explore this kinda stuff. Kudos….I love it so far. Cant wait for more updates.

    • Thanks – I will try and keep them coming, the exciting part is just about to begin!

  • The cantilevered room is very sexy. I like it that you didn’t cut down the trees. Not being an architect, I am not familiar with the term cottonwood modern. Did you explain in the previous post?

    • Cottonwood Modern is just the name we gave for the project – it’d the name of the area plus the style of this particular house.