Optimum value engineering (OVE) strategies can help reduce your wood use in building projects. The most obvious strategy is to think small. The smaller and simpler your building’s design, the fewer materials you’ll consume in construction. Keep in mind that some dimensions are better than others—24 inches is the magic number in OVE. For example, most sheet goods come in dimensions with multiples of 2 feet, so planning a building’s length, width, and roof pitch for 2-foot increments will reduce wood waste.
The magic number applies to framing as well. In many cases, you can increase your stud spacing from 16 to 24 inches on center. If you’re building a two-story structure, and you’re framing with 2 by 6s, you can use 24-inch spacing throughout the home.
If your wall studs are spaced 24 inches, you can save more wood by aligning roof trusses and floor beams with the wall studs to distribute weight evenly throughout the structure, and eliminate the need for double top plates.
Your home’s corners are another easy place to save on dimensional lumber. Conventionally framed corners use the three-stud method: three studs nailed together with a perpendicular fourth stud for attaching drywall. This creates beefy corners, but it’s also wood-intensive and susceptible to thermal bridging (allowing heat to conduct through the studs). A less lumber-intensive method for corner framing uses just two studs and drywall clips, which screw into the interior stud and support drywall without extra wood. This method provides increased insulation space and minimizes thermal bridging.
Consult local building officials early in your design process to make sure OVE techniques are allowed in your area—some localities mandate other building techniques to withstand high winds or potential seismic events.