Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Stacked Multifamily Wood Frame

With the stacked multifamily projects we have built, we have either had a structural steel or a concrete podium and retail, office or parking below. The apartments start above the podium, and wood framing is used if the over-all building height is less than 75 feet.

Regarding the wood framing, we have found it is important to remember the basics, starting with a seasoned structural engineer. For our current project, we are using LBYD, and my advice is to stay “connected at the hip” with the design structural engineer:

  • It is critical that allowances for any mechanical systems are made within the stud walls during the design phase. It is better to upsize stud widths at times.
  • We are using SYP over Spruce Pine Fir because SYP typically has about 50% more strength in compression parallel to grain.
  • Brick veneer is typically limited to about 30’ at the base because of the difficulty in supporting the gravity load of brick from a wood frame.
  • Beginning drywall at the top imposes the dead load on all the floors below, which in turn helps to give the building its “set,” preventing cracking down the road.
Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.