Sometimes diy-ers have more energy and initiative than construction knowledge. If that describes you, this page may be where you should start. Framers who spend every day building houses don’t spend a lot of time perusing truss websites, they already know this stuff. We’re here for those who don’t know it all, but have what it takes to figure it out anyway.
What is a truss?
Many people call us wanting a quote on rafters. We do our best to be polite (that’s just how we were raised) but RAFTERS ARE NOT TRUSSES.
A rafter is a piece of wood. It can be any length, depth, or width, and can even be engineered, but a rafter is ONLY one piece of wood.
Trusses on the other hand, are a highly engineered collection of wooden components of varying sizes and grades, fit and assembled precisely according to an engineers specifications, using various sizes and thicknesses of engineered steel truss plates. They aren’t rafters or joists, they are trusses.
Mistakes and miscommunication run rampant if we don’t use the same language to describe the pieces and parts of trusses. Take a look at the graphic below. These are industry standard terms we’ll use to discuss specifics parts of trusses.
Hip vs Gable
We use the terms “gable” and “hip” to describe the two most common roof profiles. Below is an example of a gable roof:
Below is an example of a hip style roof.
Some houses are all hip, and some are all gable, but most home designs include hips and gables.
I’ve got my quote. How do I verify measurements and order trusses?
Lets be clear about something: When you measure your own job, you are assuming the liability for those measurements. That’s okay. You can read a tape. You can pull a measurement or two, or ten if need be. If you decide to do it yourself, we do recommend asking someone to help you and double check your measurements.
When you sign off on our quote to order trusses, you are acknowledging that the quoted trusses are correct and are what you want us to build. It’s extremely important to verify EVERYTHING before signing off on the quote, because we’re going to build the trusses in that quote.
Most people don’t want it to be their fault when their trusses don’t fit. Who are we kidding?! No one does. In-house and unscientific studies have shown that when the trusses don’t fit, at least 99% of customers blame the truss manufacturer. We’re okay with taking the blame when we messed up. We’re human, and it happens. When we make a mistake, we fix it. At the end of the day, we want our customers to be happy. Just remember that when you order trusses you are entering into a partnership with us, and we expect you to hold up your end of the agreement. Part of doing that is taking responsibility to verify the trusses before you order.
How long does it take to get trusses after I order them?
The amount of time between when your trusses are ordered and when they will be ready for delivery is referred to as lead time. Lead times can vary from two weeks or less during the slow season to four weeks or more during the busy times. When we give you a quote we usually note our lead time. Keep in mind that lead times change, and the lead time we gave you with the quote may not be valid when you call to order. The best rule of thumb is to always order your trusses in plenty of time.
We do our best to get trusses built and delivered according to the dates we discussed when you ordered the trusses. Sometimes things happen beyond our control, like employees taking sick days, or equipment breakdowns. We do our best to communicate with you as soon as we realize we may not be able to meet a scheduled delivery date. We’re not going to just tell you what you want to hear and then put you off for two weeks. It is extremely rare for us to be more than a few days later than scheduled.
I ordered my trusses early, like you said. Now they’re built and I’m not ready for them. How long can you keep them at your shop?
We understand that weather, job site space, and other factors beyond your control play a big part in when you will be ready for trusses. We don’t mind if trusses sit in our yard for awhile when necessary, but our first preference is to deliver them as soon as they are built. We cannot store trusses indefinitely. If delivery is refused for an extended time after the originally scheduled date, and you’re not taking our phone calls, we reserve the right to dispose of the trusses at our discretion. That won’t happen as long as you remain in communication with us and are actively working to find a way to take your trusses within a reasonable time.
I got my trusses, and noticed that some of the interior webbing, and some of the splices aren’t the same as the drawings showed on the quote. What gives?
Unless you specify that you want a certain webbing pattern or specify top or bottom chord sizes we will most likely make adjustments to your trusses after your order them.
When we do a truss quote, we don’t get super in-depth to make sure every joint or piece is designed in the most efficient way for our shop to build it. That would waste our designers’ time. We are quoting the profile of the trusses, and unless you specify otherwise, interior webbing, chord sizes and grades, etc, are subject to change without notice during our optimization process. The final engineer-stamped sealed drawings always match the trusses we build.
What if we need to measure to match trusses to an existing standard gable end?
We’re always happy to help you figure out what you need. Most of the time, a generalized quote will be enough to get you on track with pricing. When you order the trusses though, we’ve got to get serious about having exact measurements so that the trusses match your existing roof.
To match an existing standard gable end, we need to focus on four measurements: Span, Heel Height, Peak Height, and Overhang. That’s all. Once we have those measurements, we have EXACTLY what we need to match your existing standard gable end.
There’s one caveat we’ve used in this discussion so far… We’ve been careful to say standard gable end. What does that mean? When we use the term standard to describe a gable end, we mean that both outside walls are the same height. The ceiling inside is flat. We expect the peak to be in center, because we expect the same pitch on both sides. Both heel heights are the same. That’s standard.
But what if it’s not? Read on…
How do I measure to match trusses to an existing, NON-standard gable end?
This is where we get off into the weeds. If you’re an aggressive diy-er who is looking for the challenge of figuring this out for yourself, go for it. Take a look at the following graphic.
Essentially, we need a measurement to every point where the trusses profile changes. The more measurements we have, and the more accurate they are, the better. When we are pulling these measurements, we aren’t looking for best guesses or “close enough”. If they aren’t right your trusses won’t match.
In complicated cases like this, we’d like to meet you and help you measure the job. It’s worth it to us to get it right.
What if we’re adding onto a hip?
Adding onto a hip end can be both easier and harder than adding onto a gable end. When you add onto a hip, you have a little more leeway in matching the pitch, because your first truss isn’t slapped right next to an existing truss. Minor plane differences can be taken out gradually, and will not be seen.
The fact that you are able to do that also means that you HAVE to frame above the existing roof and get it to plane out. That’s not always easy, but it’s seldom a good idea for us to try to provide over-framing (technically called valley trusses) to sit on top of an existing hip.
When adding onto a hip end, you have to deal with the ends of the trusses or rafters that sit on the existing end wall. Assuming you want to take that wall out, you have two options: A header, or a girder. A header is framed below the existing trusses and supports the trusses from the floor. A girder is a specially built truss that is engineered to carry the ends of the existing trusses while spanning the entire width of the hip end. We highly recommend using a girder. Even if you aren’t taking out the wall, you will have the option later.
To measure a standard hip end for trusses, we need three measurements: Heel Height, Span, and Overhang. And we need the roof pitch. This is best measured from the top of the roof with a level that is at least two feet long. Hold the left end of the level on the roof, and lift the right end until the bubble shows level. Measure straight down from the right end to the roof. You don’t have to figure the pitch, just tell us the exact length of your level, and the exact length you measured from the right end of the level to the roof. We can do the rest.
As always, anytime you feel you’re getting in over your head, just give us a call. We’re always glad to help our customers figure out what they need to order.
I can hear it now, there’s one guy reading this going, “so what if have a non-standard hip end? How do I measure that?”
Just give us a call.
How do I install and brace trusses?
The purpose of this website isn’t to re-write industry standards that are already in existence. On our Tools and Resources page you will find documentation on almost any question you might have. If you have a specific question, feel free to call us and we’ll give you any help we can.