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I am planning to build a 12'x12' cabin. I cannot go bigger than 12x12, but there are no height restrictions so I'd like to incorporate a loft. I'm thinking front wall at 16' tall and rear wall at 12' feet tall with shed roof. Loft floor will be 12'x10' and tie into side(non roof load) walls at ~8', leaving a 2' gap between the loft floor and front 16' wall. Question is, can I frame these tall(12' & 16') load bearing walls with 2x4's? I will use blocking, and exterior sheathing will be glued and nailed. Thoughts?

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Yes. This is called balloon framing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(construction)#Balloon_framing

The catch in 2015 is that it might not be all that easy to find 16' 2x4s that are all that straight.

I'd personally go with 2x6's in this case for added rigidity, load bearing abilities, increased insulation space (important on that high wall) and just plain easier to deal with in terms of getting straighter walls.

Unsolicited suggestions:

  • have you considered leaving the gap along the side wall? That will allow you the maximum head space up in the loft area towards the front (tall) wall.
  • I'd consider going with a 3' gap rather than 2' just to make it that much easier to get stuff up into the loft (namely furniture).
  • Thanks for the response. I'm aware of balloon framing, but just wasn't sure of the integrity of an unsupported 16' tall wall. Some things have changed and I will be going with 2x6 as suggested, and leaving a 3' gap too. We got a variance that is going to allow a slightly larger footprint, so I've got some wiggle room now. Thanks again for your response. – htgriff Sep 23 '15 at 19:37

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