Adding ducting or conduit or pipes to a wall is easy, you just drill or cut a hole. Adding a wall where there is already conduit and pipes poses more of a dilemma, especially if those things are adjacent to an existing wall or structure that the new wall is supposed to abut. I'm used to framing a new wall with it laying flat, then lifting it into place. That obviously isn't the right approach here. If I try to frame the wall in-place then I can't get to the bottom of the bottom plate or top of the top plate (if it touches the ceiling) to put screws through into the studs. If I frame the wall laying down, then I have to leave openings all the way to the nearest edge from each obstruction, which is not ideal.

What simple method am I missing here?

Edit: This is the space I am adding walls to. The walls will each be 9-14 feet wide, and about 16 feet tall. With few exceptions, they will each be adjacent to the concrete columns on both sides. enter image description here

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    are the services running horizontally along the floor, ceiling, or some height between? Or are they running vertically, floor to ceiling? Also what is the cross sectional area of the services (how much area are they taking up)? – Mike Perry Jul 10 '11 at 4:03
  • horizontally along the ceiling and existing walls as well as suspended 1-2 feet away from the ceiling. cross section ranges from 1" circles (electrical conduit) to 1' circles (hvac ducts). – Sparr Jul 10 '11 at 5:13
  • without seeing the exact situation you are dealing with it is a little difficult (at least for me) to give you exact advice (don't want to lead you down a wrong path) on how best to proceed. With that said, I would say you at least would be better off dealing with the service area by constructing around it in place, then maybe infill the remaining part of the wall using your preferred pre-fab method... – Mike Perry Jul 10 '11 at 14:12
  • @Mike Perry I added a photo to the question – Sparr Jul 10 '11 at 16:51
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    if it's within the budget (or the budget could be reworked to allow), I would seriously look into putting in a false (dropped) ceiling in that particular situation. Hiding those services within an accessible ceiling space I think could very! well pay for itself in the long-term. I would at least investigate the cost of doing so, before commencing with internal wall construction... – Mike Perry Jul 10 '11 at 18:42

I'm not sure how long these walls are going to be, but here is a common method using wood studs, even though I still think steel framing would be better in your situation. First step is to secure 2X4's or 2X6's along a chalk line on the floor at wall placement position. This will be the first or two bottom plates. Transcribe location of obsticles onto this bottom plate using a laser or plumb bob. Lay out and scribe the corners, studs, jacks etc onto this plate. At this point you will know where conflicts with the pipes, vents and will be able to plan prebuilt wall sections around them. or areas where a horizontal needs to be added below the obsticle height to allow wall to be fitted. Now lay out your top and bottom plates against the now scribed secured bottom plate and transfer the layout marks to them. (Yes, there will be two bottom plates when you are done.)

Side note: using the fixed bottom plate allows easier and tighter fitting prefab walls to be lifted into place without the angle problem of lifting the wall and having to make the wall 3/4" short to compensate for the lift angle.

Now you can lay out the plates, studs etc and assemble the wall sections with a nail gun,or hammer (uggg) nailing studs through the bottom and top of the plates, so no toe nailing required. Because of your height, a rolling staging or scissor lift would be a great help. Lift the sections to vertical and slide them onto the pre-secured bottom plate. Flush them to this plate and nail the bottom. Now plumb the wall and nail to the ceiling, being sure to check plumb every few feet. This method will allow you to make several smaller wall sections and build around the pipes. Install horizontal nailers just below the pipes/vents etc.

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    +1, last time I had to do a double bottom plate involved a renovation with the ceiling 1" too high. I'll suggest this trick to the guys next time we're framing after the joists have been installed. As for the hammering, we give the volunteers that job, to wear them out until we can figure out what to do next. – BMitch Jul 10 '11 at 15:52
  • This sounds like it will leave a gap in the wall all the way to the ceiling above each obstruction? Also, added a photo to the question. – Sparr Jul 10 '11 at 16:52
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    @Spar: You are correct about the gap above the pipes. Simply add small pieces to the ceiling between studs and over the pipes to complete the wall and give you nailers for your rock. – shirlock homes Jul 11 '11 at 9:25
  • Many of the pipes are 4+ feet away from the ceiling. – Sparr Jul 12 '11 at 0:58

When you frame a wall in place, you toe-nail the stud into the top/bottom plate. To make it easy, assuming you're right handed, install the studs from left to right. Tack a nail into the plate to the left of where the stud will go, so it doesn't slide on you. Then put a nail in at a 45 deg angle into the stud and through to the plate. You should also have a second nail toe-nailed from the other side on a 2x4, or 3 nails for a 2x6 into each plate.

If the angles are getting difficult, or you're just tired of trying to swing the hammer at a 45 deg angle, then use screws.

  • Thanks. I always assume I'm going to use screws for wood construction, and need a reality check when it is time to use nails. – Sparr Jul 10 '11 at 16:53

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