Skip to main content

Residential Construction Types

Learn About Different Types of Construction

It’s important to understand the various methods and approaches to constructing a home before you get started on your project. We put together information you can use, along side our House Plans, to plan a successful construction endeavor.

Wood Frame

Wood Frame construction is the most common type of residential construction. Typically all the wall studs are factory milled to 2×4, which is milled to 1 ½” x 3 ½”, or 2×6, which is milled to 1 ½” x 5 ½”, members. The exterior walls are then finished with a variety of materials depending on the desired architectural look such as Vinyl Siding, Hardwood Siding, Cement Siding, Aluminum Siding, Brick Siding, Stucco Siding or Rock Siding. Roof trusses are generally prefabricated wood trusses made of 2×4 or 2×6 construction and are covered with ½” plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB). The floor joists are prefabricated joists manufactured by Trus Joist or a similar company. The floor trusses are typically covered with ¾” plywood or OSB. The floor framing is supported by a concrete foundation and footing.

Timber Frame

Timber frame construction is one of the most straightforward types of home construction. It is a form of wood frame construction that relies on large wooden beams and columns for its basic construction, with more narrow timber beams in between the roof beams and wood studs between the columns. Timber frame homes often leave a majority of the timber frame exposed for aesthetic reasons. The exterior walls can be finished as noted in “Wood Frame” construction above.

Wood Panels (SIP)

Unlike timber frame homes, wood panel homes use prefabricated wall and roof panels that sandwich rigid foam insulation between thinner pieces of wood. The panels are called Structurally Insulated Panels or SIPs. The panels are pre-manufactured and then delivered to the project location for installation. Wood frame homes make use of a timber trees, a renewable resource and are relatively inexpensive to construct. The exterior walls can be finished as noted in “Wood Frame” construction above.


Manufactured (or prefab) homes use components that have been constructed elsewhere in large numbers. While some wood homes may be considered partially prefabricated, other homes make much heavier use of manufactured components using plastics, fiberboard and fiberglass. Mobile homes are one example of house construction that uses entirely prefabricated parts. Manufactured homes, which buyers can have delivered to a lot anywhere and placed with or without a permanent foundation, also use prefabricated components. Wall finishes are determined at the factory and are completed prior to delivery.

Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)

Insulated Concrete Form, or ICF, construction is a growing type of home construction. This process uses insulated concrete forms that are filled with concrete to provide superior structure and rigidity, all while removing the need to harvest trees or manufacture prefabricated plastic components from petroleum, making ICF an environmentally sound option. While ICF home construction is expensive, it partly pays for itself by saving the homeowner money on heating and cooling bills over time. ICF construction is also highly resistant to fire and insects. The exterior walls can be finished as noted in “Wood Frame” construction above.

Concrete Masonry Units

Concrete masonry units (CMU) used in residential construction is used typically in the exterior walls. This type of construction is used to create a very environmentally resistance structure. Although the ground floor could be constructed as slab-on-grade, the floor could also be wood construction as noted in the “Wood Frame” section above. For a non-combustible construction the interior walls and roof trusses would be made of light gauge steel studs. The exterior walls can be finished as noted in “Wood Frame” construction above.

Steel Stud

Steel stud construction is popular with commercial buildings, but some home builders also use it in construction residences. It uses many of the same building techniques as wood frame construction but replaces the wood members with steel studs. Screws, rather than nails, hold the components together and help form the basic structure, which may be indistinguishable from wood frame construction when the building is complete. Steel stud construction is resistant to fire and insects, which is why some people choose it over a wood frame method. The exterior walls can be finished as noted in “Wood Frame” construction above.