I'm redoing a kitchen but I've hired a contractor to do a portion of the work. One of the jobs he was hired to do was to move and reframe two windows. He finished that job today and I'm really concerned that it wasn't done correctly.

I called him on it and his argument was that in old construction with native lumber the headers are so strong that you don't need the typical double header, jack stud, king stud. He basically claims there's no load here.

What do you all think?

window 1

window 2

Click for larger view

  • No load? They are load bearing exterior walls! He just cut three studs out of the middle of both of them!
    – bib
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 2:01
  • Two studs. The thirds were absent due to the original windows.
    – mike
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 6:38

3 Answers 3


The wall seems to have 'full dimension' studs and the markings of old lath and plaster. I don't see plywood sheathing on the exterior walls. All in all I'm guessing that your house was built prior to WWII and is either 'post and beam' or 'balloon frame' construction, both of which are radically different in terms of structure and loads from modern techniques.

Here are wikipedia links for those techniques:

  1. post and beam construction
  2. balloon framing
  3. platform framing ("typical" modern wood framing)

Can you post some photos that show the original framing for the original windows? I'm guessing the original construction did not include headers above the windows. Also I do not see any indication that jack studs were used in the original construction.

If your house is post and beam, then I don't think there are any significant structural issues.

If your house is balloon framed, this is how I would 'fix' it, with the jacks (red) and cripples (black) going through the floor to bear on what ever the existing old studs bear upon. The header (green) consists of two 2x10s sandwiching two rippings of 1/2" plywood (or whatever).

Based on the current state, achieving this is rather quick and simple. It does not require starting from scratch: the window and existing new 2xs do not need to be removed.

enter image description here

  • Yeah. You nailed it about the balloon framing. The more I researched the more I realized this was just how it was done. When we tore the walls down and saw how the windows were originally framed we thought it was missing a lot of structure but that's just how they did it then.
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 13:13
  • Also thanks for the drawing, that was very helpful.
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 13:14
  • I don't have any before pictures, but you're right. There were no headers above the windows.
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 20:13
  • 1
    @BZink - Thanks for the updates. Last night I ended up writing my answer using the term 'fix'. At the time, I debated what word to use. 'Fix' might be too aggressive. If the carpenter who did the work has a good deal of experience with balloon framed homes in your region, then I would put a fair amount of weight in his word and give him the benefit of the doubt, but would still mention that I would sleep better (or some such nicety) if he cut-in a beefy header and jack studs 'just in case'.
    – mike
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 20:35
  • 1
    The old studs only extend up an additional 2 feet or so to the original roof. There was no second story on kitchen originally. A second was added just a few years ago. The additional load of an unoriginal second floor was a big factor in having him redo this framing work. He finished reframing the windows yesterday and was able to get a solid header in as well as jack studs that extend down to the base plate. Thank you
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 13:30

OK. You were right in all of you assertions.

Really basic picture of a properly framed window.

enter image description here

The contractor should not step foot in your house again. He is a moron. He can't even make a good excuse. Also and this is worse than the improper framing technique. The current layout is in no way set at right angles.

  • +1 for "The contractor should not step foot in your house again."
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 4:31
  • Your picture isn't particularly relevant since the house in question is balloon framed without the bottom sill in your picture. While it might have been nice of the contractor to nail in some extra wood, it wouldn't actually be doing anything structurally and wouldn't have been used when the house was originally built.
    – Zach
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:36

From looking at your pictures I can say that it was not done correctly. Sad part is that it is so easy to do it correctly when the studs are all open.

There really should be doubled headers above and below the window. They should, in both cases, be resting on the top of studs that extend from the ends of the header down to a bearing surface all the way to the base plate.

There should also be doubled stud material on both sides of the window. It is not fully clear from your pictures if you have that in all cases. One problem of not having full width of double stud material on each side of the window is that there can end up being no solid wood to nail wide casing into and a place to firmly screw in curtain rod hanger brackets.

  • He claimed that he couldn't run full king studs because there's no sill plate. I haven't had a chance to climb in the crawl space yet to see how the current studs are tied in.
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 2:15
  • 1
    He probably meant or said that there was no bottom plate, and that would be consistent with balloon framing.
    – mike
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 4:40
  • That's correct. Bottom plate.
    – BZink
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 13:38

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