In vertical void spaces, they mostly go to the top plate and build downwards. I've done some in 12' ceilings. Here's one: http://picasaweb.google.com/pyxicephalus/May62008#5197464836342079474
Between floor joists they most always begin building just on the other side of the band board, going as deep as the void space will allow them, but... They only seem to go so far, even when very mature. Longest one I ever did was twelve and a half feet long. Most are no longer than 9', with the average maximum somewhere between 6 -8'.
Now throw in to the equation human intervention and things can change quite drastically. Once the colony is established say for example some person decides to caulk and seal the original entrance, if the bees can find another way in to get to the hive, they will. I had a fellow do this very thing and bees were entering 18' from the original entrance to get to the hive.
Rule of thumb before a cut out, ask a million questions, even ask neighbors about the colony/colonies. You'd be amazed at what you can find out from neighbors.