Homebuilding Lumber Checklist


Where do you start when figuring the lumber you need to build a house? For a lot of people doing a lumber takeoff from a blueprint could be a daunting task. By taking logical steps anyone with basic knowledge of how a house is built can make a lumber checklist.



The easiest way to figure lumber amounts to build a house is to start at the beginning. By this I mean figure the lumber in the order you would build it. Start with the sill plates and finish with the plywood on the roof.

As mentioned start your checklist with the sill plates. Figure the lineal footage and divide by the lengths of lumber you want to use (10', 12', 14', 16').

Next on the list would be the 1st floor framing and sheathing. This would first include the floor joists. These are usually 2x10's or 2x12's. Use the lineal footage for sill plates to get the amount of rim joists. Figure the lengths that are needed and how many of each that are needed for 12" or 16" on center. Include bridging for the floor joists whether it be solid or cross bridging. The last item for the 1st floor deck is the 3/4" tongue and groove plywood or OSB. This can be done by figuring the square footage and dividing by 32 to get the amount of sheets of plywood needed.

After the floor comes the walls. This can be broken down to exterior walls and interior walls. Again the lineal footage for the sill plates can be used to figure the exterior wall plates and studs. Take this figure times 3 to get the amount of material for bottom plates and the double top plates. For exterior wall studs figure one stud for every lineal foot. This takes into account window and door openings, wall intersections and corners. To get the wall sheathing amount, take the sill plate lineal footage and divide by four. For interior walls, figure the lineal footage and figure one stud per foot. For headers, add the opening widths, multiply times two and divide by the length of material to get amount of pieces.

Next is ceiling joists. These usually have to be figured room by room and are usually 16" on center. Also size of ceiling joists can vary from room to room depending on the span.

Lastly,the roof system is figured. For a basic gable roof with rafters 16" on center, figure 3 rafters for every four feet plus one. Don't forget the ridge board which will run the entire length of the building. Also include material for a gable overhang if there is one. If it wasn't already built into the end exterior walls, include studs and sheeting material for the gable end walls.

If the roof is a hip roof it will have the same amount of rafters as a gable. The difference will be including four hip rafters and less ridge board.

When figuring the plywood sheeting for a gable roof, multiply the length times the width of one side of the gable. Take this number times two (both sides of the gable) Take this number and divide it by 32 (square feet in a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood). This will give you the total number of sheets of plywood to cover the roof.

For a hip roof, even though it is shaped differently, it will take the same amount of plywood to cover its rafters.

To finish off the roof system, add collar ties, fascia boards and soffit material to your lumber checklist.

In closing, figure it like you would build it and you can't go wrong. After you have done it a couple times it will become very easy.

Mike Merisko (C)2009

More lumber takeoff articles.

Figuring Lumber Amounts for Homebuilding




Door Openings


Garage Door Openings


Lumber Takeoffs

Nail Guns

Plywood Deck 


Roof Framing


Sill Plates

Speed Square






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