For many years I have expressed my bias about building a post and beam structure over a load bearing structure. Well, the time has come for me to back peddle a bit and sing some praises of load bearing construction. Having built a few load bearing structures in the last couple years, I have started to see the gold they offer.
For starters, they are quite a bit easier to work with when using “unskilled” labor. I say that with all due respect of course and use the term to identify home owners or friends who want to help, but have little or no skills in the arena of home construction. I have found it very satisfying to spend a few days with a bunch of people raising walls for someone’s home. This is perhaps the image most commonly associated with straw bale construction and although that may have caused some damage to the movement in a weird way, it is really fun to build with a bunch of friends.
When building a simple design, load bearing construction can save significant amounts of wood in a home as well. There have long been discussions about the truth of this statement and I can now say from experience that I believe it to be 100% true. The homes we have built as post and beam have used significantly more lumber than those that are load bearing. In today’s world of dwindling natural resources, this is more important that ever.
The speed at which the buildings go up is actually increased as well. A few people willing to work hard can raise an amazing amount of walls in a short period of time. If all of the window and door bucks are made ahead of time as well as the top box beam, the installation of those items is quick and the overall construction time is fast. I was amazed by this fact and really saw it as truth on my third building project this year.
There are more advantages and in truth, there are disadvantages as well; however, I am a true believer in the potential of load bearing construction. It is especially significant when building smaller buildings like storage sheds, studios, cabins, or guest homes. No need to use so much wood on small, simple structures.