One thing folks envy about people who build things is the satisfaction that comes from seeing the fruits of your labor on a daily basis. On a good day something tangible exists that wasn’t there that morning. Constructing a home involves many trades but there is no doubt that the framer enjoys that result in a big way. The framer brings the form of the building to life and almost magically what was just lines on paper is suddenly real. You can stand inside, walk around, and begin to feel what the house will become.

Framers are a special breed, and the best show up each day with a plan in their heads and a crew to lead, taking bundles of lumber and plywood and turning lines on a page into a solid structure, all cut to fit and fastened in a methodical sequence that brings the building to life. The best can picture the whole structure and all its parts in their heads and are always thinking three steps ahead to keep the crew moving.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with one of the best for over a decade. Chris Tolly is a master framer, up for translating intricate and exacting plans into a durable and well constructed building. Over those years Chris learned quickly how to construct the high performance, air tight enclosures our Zero Energy Homes require.

Because air tightness is a non negotiable requirement, we test for leakage as soon as the frame is fully enclosed, sealing off window openings before they’re installed. Using a blower door fan to pressurize the building, we use a theatrical fog machine to aim a hose at every joint while Janet and Chris circle the building on the lookout for any leak the fog might reveal and fix it then and there. This is Chris’s exam and, house by house, the leaks get smaller as he learns from each where to focus attention on the next one. Once he has achieved that air tightness he keeps an eye out for any penetration another trade may make and makes sure they take responsibility for sealing it back up.

It takes all kinds of characters to construct a building, and action oriented framers share a bit of the cowboy in their “get it done” momentum on the job site. Chris is definitely one of those characters and once folks get acquainted with his colorful language and his need to keep things moving they learn to appreciate his devotion to his craft, even if that requires giving him a wide berth as his framing steamship plunges forward.
On first encounter some mistake the gruff cowboy for what is in fact a dedicated and skilled craftsman, as careful installing intricate trim as he is standing up a wall. Not only that, all that noise doesn’t immediately reveal the man who is great with kids and animals, is generous and caring, smiling as often as glaring, and above all is an invaluable collaborator.
It’s a pleasure to work with trade partners who are both as skilled and as caring as Chris Tolly.