To Truss or Not to Truss

Truss, Can I ?

Truss? One of the common misconceptions made is that home designs can easily be converted to trusses from a traditional or stick framed roof system. Sometimes this is true, but most of the time, people don’t understand the mechanics involved to really make it work!
First of all, I am Pro-Truss, because they can greatly increase not only the speed a home is framed, they can also greatly cut cost in both labor and materials! However, that being said, not all homes are suited for trusses!

Multiple Ceiling Heights?

Homes with multiple ceiling levels, may look great and really add to the initial WOW factor, but they also add to the difficulty of using trusses! Looking at the basic design, with walls aligned with truss direction or running at ninety degrees to the trusses, this is easily accomplished. However, things get much more difficult when rooms run at odd angles to the trusses with varying ceiling heights!

Rooms running at odd angles to trusses with varying ceiling heights make it difficult but not impossible accomplish with trusses. If you have a vaulted room with the walls running at a forty five degree angle to the trusses, whether the vault is flat or peaked, it is difficult to get the trusses to land correctly, forming the vault. It is easy to put on paper, although much more difficult to accomplish in a real life!

Off Angle Wall Lines…

The reason roof trusses are not ideal for angled wall lines and assorted room heights is simply that if the trusses miss a wall slightly with rooms running at odd angles, the trusses are not easily modified on site to solve the problem! Further, when they are a bit off in one room, the problem compounds itself by messing up succeeding vaults in the adjoining rooms!

Assorted Room Heights

Where you have assorted wall or room heights, a stick frame or conventionally framed roof may be much more effective and cost efficient! Creating the design with various room heights and running at forty five degrees or any other angle for that matter to the trusses can be a nightmare for the framer and when it is a nightmare for the framer, it can be a major hit on your wallet.

The Ideal Truss Situation

Simply put, the ideal truss situation is a design with one top plate height on either end of the affected trusses. The way around this limitation is to make the plate/ceiling height all one level, say ten or twelve feet. You can then add whatever ceiling height and ceiling treatment you want, be it trey or coffered or even vaulted over specific rooms. By running trusses either parallel or perpendicular to the walls, you can incorporate the ceiling features right into the trusses!

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal (Facade) can be greatly enhanced by varying wall lines in and out on the front of the home and changing the roof pitch. This is easily accomplished and much more cost effective!

Raising the walls in the front to give that larger than life look is a common theme with stock plans. Bear in mind, Stock plans are intended to have a WOW factor or a hook to catch prospective plan purchasers! Raising the wall heights to gain curb appeal is more costly than varying wall lines.

I draw lines on paper or at least on virtual paper as does the truss designer. In real life, not everything works out as precisely as drawn! I spent the first phase of my life building large (6000 SF plus) custom homes. I have seen first hand the problems that can and will pop up if trusses are used in the wrong situation. Carefully consider when the designer tells you it may be more cost effective to stick frame as opposed to truss!

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