A handful of the most adept high school mountain bikers on the North Coast — and a few of their coaches — traveled to Monterey to compete in one of the world’s largest cycling festivals, the Sea Otter Classic, and returned home with more than just good memories.Elizabeth Odell, one of four Humboldt Composite High School Mountain Bike Club riders who made the trip to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the yearly event which draws more than 10,000 riders from around the globe, took 1st-place in …
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner/builder with relatively little building experience. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here. Plumb and line the wallsWith all of the first floor walls complete, it was neat to be able to navigate the rooms and get an idea of the feel of the dimensions of the house. Before moving on to the second floor, I needed to take some time to ensure that all of my framing so far is straight, level, square, plumb, and true. The subfloor on the second floor will tie everything together, so this was my last chance to make sure it was just right.A plumb bob helps the author make sure that walls are straight up and down.I started by double checking the lengths of the top and bottom plates and the lengths of the corner studs. Next, I used a plumb bob to ensure each of the corners was plumb. I used long 2x4s nailed diagonally and nail stakes in the ground to push or pull the end of each wall as needed to plumb the ends of the wall. I knew the foundation was level, so since the wall lengths were equal and plumb, I knew the walls were square and true as well.To check the middle of the walls, I nailed a 2×4 block to the top corner on each end of the wall and stretched a string tightly between them. Using a third block, I checked all along the wall to ensure this block fit snugly between the wall and the string. Where necessary I used additional bracing to make the wall straight.With the exterior walls (hopefully) perfect, it was time for the interior walls. I used a powder-actuated hammer tool to nail the bottom plates of the interior walls into place (see Image #6 below). This tool uses a .22-caliber explosive to drive the nail into the hard concrete.With this crucial step of straightening done, I was now confident enough to get going on the joists. Framing the interior wallsAdvanced framing will help me lower my heating bill by creating more space for insulation. However, insulating a house is just one of the ways to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat (or cool) a house. No matter how much insulation I put in the house, if I don’t control the air that is allowed to flow through the walls, it will be impossible to control the temperature.According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 30% of heating and cooling costs is due to lack of air sealing. One of the places where air can escape is in the tiny gap between the sill plates of the walls and the concrete foundation. While I did place sill gasket in that area, that was only to prevent water from wicking up the concrete and into the walls. The sill gasket is air-permeable, meaning air can pass through it. I needed to add an additional layer that was air-impermeable.The best time to do that work is now. After I frame the interior walls it will be nearly impossible to caulk the spaces where they connect to the exteriors.I also will be using a continuous layer of drywall to control air movement. This means that the drywall will slide in behind the wall framing for the interior partitions, resulting in fewer joints in the drywall and thus fewer opportunities for air infiltration (see Image #5 below). Drywall is installed later. For now, I cut small scrap pieces of 3/4-inch material and used them as spacers to ensure the gap was sufficient.I used standard framing instead of advanced framing for the interior walls since they don’t require any extra room for insulation. This meant spacing the studs at 16 inches on center instead of 24 inches, and capping the studs with a double top plate instead of a single. Additionally, I used 2x4s to frame most of the interior walls instead of 2x6s. (An exception is walls that house large drain lines and vent pipes.) RELATED ARTICLES The slab came out really well, but not perfectly. (This is my first solo build, after all!) There will be a few small areas of concrete that stick out a bit or don’t come out far enough (see Image #2 below). This is no problem at all structurally and visually it will be covered up by the siding, but in taking these measurements I was able to position the walls to minimize the problem as much as possible.The exterior walls will be framed with 2x6s. The first lines I snapped marked the inside edges of the bottom plates — 5 1/2 inches in from the edge. Once I had marked all the exterior walls, I grabbed the first sill plate from my pile of lumber and cut it down to 20 feet (most lumber yards give you an extra 1/2 inch or so). I lined it up on my line and marked out the anchor bolt locations, and then drilled them out. (Remember, the bolts were embedded in the concrete so just the top part stuck out) Then I set the bottom plate over the bolts and made sure it lined up just right. I repeated the procedure all the way around each wall until I had all four plates done.With the placement of the exterior walls now set, I was able to measure out the locations of the interior walls and snap those lines as well. It will be much easier to mark them now, and they will serve as a sort of map to where my interior walls will be going. The Pros and Cons of Advanced FramingGreen Encyclopedia: Energy-Efficient FramingStrategies and Details: Advanced Framing Drawing Fine Homebuilding Video: Framing an Advanced House Fine Homebuilding: Bring Advanced Framing to Your Job Site BLOGS BY MATT BATH Pouring the Slab Designing and Installing a Septic SystemFoundation FormworkAn Introduction Laying out the wallsI had to call a friend to help me carry the 32-foot-long laminated veneer lumber (LVL) top plate from the lumber pile over to the slab, and we set it on edge next to the bottom plate, which I had also turned on edge. I used some clamps to hold them together, perfectly lined up, and then used a tape measure to mark out the stud locations every 2 feet.I had ordered the studs precut so that saved me a lot of time. I just had to carry them from the lumber pile and then inspect and “crown” them. Lumber, being a product of nature, is never perfect. I set aside studs with significant bends or waves for later use. The straighter ones I will use now, but even the straighter ones have a bit of a curve or “crown” in them. I lined the crowns up all going in the same direction, which will make it easier to straighten them out later in the build.Once all the studs were laid out on my marks, it was just a matter of nailing them together. Building codes offer several different ways to satisfy nailing requirements, and the one I chose will be three 16d nails, top and bottom, to connect each stud to the top and bottom plates. I took my time and carefully aligned each stud to ensure that it didn’t stick out on either side. It is situations like these where even with my lack of experience I can guarantee I put together a better wall than 90% of the framing crews since they are focused on speed over quality.For the window openings, a larger piece of lumber must be used to carry the load around the opening to studs on either side. Again, building codes offer several ways to satisfy these header requirements, and for mine I chose a single 2×10. I will also be utilizing some metal hangers to carry the weight of the header instead of shorter studs called jack studs, although I did use jack studs for the entry door (see Image #3 below).Once all the lumber was nailed together, I unrolled some sill gasket and placed it on the slab where the wall would be anchored. I also nailed some long 2x4s to the top of the wall. As we raise the wall, these boards will swing out and brace it. The wall was very heavy but with a few friends we were able to get it airborne with ease. Once it was vertical, I staked down the bracing boards and then screwed the nuts down over large square washers on the anchor bolts. Using advanced framing techniquesTo an experienced framer, the work I have completed over the last couple of days would seem wrong. It is quite possible they would never have seen a house framed the way that I am framing mine. A few might even claim that I am violating building codes by not following “standard practice.”The fact is, I am utilizing a method of framing created in the 1970s in a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Association of Home Builders Research Foundation. It’s commonly called advanced framing. The goal was to reduce the amount of wood used in construction, not only to save the lumber, but more importantly, to create more space for insulation and save on energy use. All of these small changes work to ensure the house will be net-zero.In traditional framing you have a single sill plate at the bottom of the wall connected to a series of studs spaced 16 inches on center, which are then connected to two top plates sandwiched together (see Image #4 below). Even more studs are used to anchor interior walls to the exterior. All of the wood used are 2x4s, leaving a stud cavity 3 1/2 inches deep for insulation.In advanced framing, on the other hand, only a single top plate is used, studs are spaced 24 inches on center and metal hangers are used instead of jack studs. On gable end walls, no headers are needed at all. “Ladder framing” is used to anchor interior partition walls, and 2×6 lumber is used instead of 2x4s, leaving 5 1/2 inches for insulation.The advanced framing system is cheaper because it uses 5% to 10% less lumber, and it is faster because it uses 30% fewer boards (although they are a bit bigger and heavier). More important, every single year more money is saved on energy costs because more insulation can be used.Okay, so what’s the catch? If advanced framing was added to the building code over 40 years ago, is cheaper and faster, and reduces energy bills every single month, then why isn’t it standard operating procedure for builders? How could I possibly be telling you that most builders don’t even know about it?Most houses are built by a massive team of contractors who under normal circumstances communicate very little with each other, if at all. These tradesman are managed by a general contractor who uses building plans that were probably drawn up by an architect and edited by an engineer.The changes in advanced framing may seem small, but they ripple right on down the line and affect every single person that works on the house. As contractors are paid by the job and not by the hour, they aren’t too keen on taking time to learn this new technique. The fewer that learn it, the fewer that are available to teach it, and the cycle continues…As I’m building solo, I have none of these issues. I designed the house myself from the very beginning with advanced framing in mind. Thanks to my mentor, who introduced me to advanced framing, I’ve never built any other way. I’m saving time, money, and materials. If you really want to save sustainably, advanced framing is the way to go. After spending the weekend spraying the new slab down with water every hour or so, I was finally ready to get the walls up. The process of “wet curing” concrete for three to seven days can add up to 50% in strength because it prevents the water inside the concrete from evaporating. While many contractors begin framing the house the day after the concrete is poured, without experiencing any problems, I played it safe and waited until the third day to get going.The first step was to snap lines on the slab where the walls would go. This will help keep the bottoms of the walls straight and square to each other. I took several measurements of the concrete, including the diagonal measurements from corner to corner, to decide where to start.
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote about possessing the right mindset, skill sets, and tool kits, but I didn’t emphasize how important is to get these things in the right order.The mindset comes first. Before anything else, you must have the right beliefs and attitudes, as well as all of the behaviors that result from possessing them. This is about who you are at your core. If you want to be a person of influence, things like character and integrity matter a great deal. You have to be the kind of person with whom other people want to do business.You bolt the skills on top of this foundation. What makes the skills work is the person who possesses them. It means nothing to know how to gain commitments if you are not the kind of person that people trust with their business. The activation of skills like presenting, negotiating, and managing change are only as valuable as the person who possess them. Skills in the hands of someone who lacks the character traits to make them work is an exercise in futility.With the mindset and the skill sets in good order, tools can be a force multiplier. The technology can help people produce better results, and in the right hands, it does. What good is a CRM in the hands of someone who lacks the discipline to keep records of their most important possession, namely their relationship. How does email help the person who chooses to hide behind it because they seek to avoid the conflict that is part of doing business? How do the social tools help someone who doesn’t have the business acumen—or the will—to become a peer, someone their clients look to for advice?Right now, because we are in the very early phases of a technological transformation to match the transformation that led us into the Industrial Age, there is propensity for companies to weight their bias towards improving sales by leveraging technologies. And there are many technologies that are worth considering. But to put technology first in the order in which you need to make improvements when it comes to generating business results is to get things exactly backwards.The Air Force Colonel, John Boyd, used to admonish the United States Military with this idea: “People. Ideas. Technology. In that order.” Boyd was right then, and he is right now. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now
The reason I created the Outcomes Planner is that Time Management (which is really “Me Management”) is the difference between success and something less. Being able to know what your most important outcomes are and devoting your time and energy to those things before doing anything else will radically change your results.But there is more to producing the outcomes you need. You also need to remove distractions. Let me ask you a couple of questions as a way of diagnosing whether you are distracted, or more likely, how distracted you really are.When you are working, is your email open or closed?How long did you wait after waking up to look at your email?How far is your smartphone from you right now?How many apps do you allow to provide you with a notification?How long after waking up did you check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram?One of the primary reasons salespeople don’t produce the results they need—or the results they are capable of—is that they are so distracted that they literally don’t do the work.Things That Are Not SalesLet’s start by looking at email. Most people I know work with their email open, as if the most important work they have to do each day is answer email. Not only does it pull their attention away from the most important outcomes they need to achieve, because most of the emails are work-related in some (often small) way, it feels like work.If you work in sales, you have two primary outcomes: 1) create new opportunities by scheduling appointments with prospects and clients to explore change, and 2) capture (win) those opportunities. Everything else is simply a commentary on those two things. It’s not that you don’t need to deal with your email, but rather what is your priority. Your work is not answering email.I am sticking with salespeople here as we wade into a tough conversation about the smartphone. The smartphone is designed to make you more productive, but some of the apps make that next to impossible. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are designed to control your attention in the very same way that a Casino is designed to separate you from your money. These apps, and others like them, are not products that you use; your attention is the product these companies sell to advertisers.When you add in notifications for every text, email, direct message, and flight status (one I refuse to turn off), you have allowed a single device to have more control over your attention than any device deserves. Have you recognized how much power this small device has over your attention?Are You a Poor Example?Now, I am turning my focus to sales leaders, leaders, entrepreneurs—and anyone else in a leadership role with one single question: Are you providing the people in your charge with an example of the behaviors you want to see from them? Or, alternatively, are you not all that different than they are?If you are with a client, your phone is turned off and your email is closed. When you are in a meeting, you aren’t checking the social site every 12 minutes. You are right to give your client your full focus and attention, but that being true, why then would you not give the rest of your most important priorities that same respect?Want to do twice as much work in half the time? Follow this plan:Close the browser and your email.Turn off all notifications and put your phone on Do Not Disturb (if you have kids, put them in your favorites list so their texts and calls come through even when your phone is on Do Not Disturb).Work for 90 minutes on what is most important without checking email, the smartphone, or the social apps.Recognize how much work you completed and how good that felt.If what has your attention doesn’t deserve your attention, shift your focus to the bigger outcomes and avoid making small choices. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now