Can House Trusses Be Modified?
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Can Truss Members Be Cut?
I received an email from a reader today asking me some questions about trusses in his home. The homeowner is interesting in creating a spare room in his attic. He noticed that there’s lots of room up in the attic that might have the potential for a spare room. So he asked me if I thought it was ok to cut certain truss members and reinforce others to structurally accommodate his new room.
So the burning question is: Can Truss Members Be Cut? My response to him was don’t do anything without a consultation with a licensed structural engineer. All manufactured wood trusses in this Country (this should be the rule) are designed and stamped by a licensed structural engineer. Cutting, modifying and altering a structural truss without the approval of the engineer of record is actually a very bad idea if not illegal in some states.
Can Truss Members Be Cut? The answer is maybe. Without knowing anything about the readers house framing it’s hard to say. I have seen situations where someone wants to build a room in an attic that has existing trusses. The easiest way to do this is by building a rafter system from inside the attic in the area to be modified. However, this is not as easy as it sounds and it still requires some oversight / input from an engineer. There are many issues to consider with this type of renovation; roof support, ceiling below, new floor framing, etc.
Don’t Modify / Cut Wood Trusses
My recommendation is really simple. If you live in a house with engineered, manufactured trusses then don’t mess with them. If you really want to modify the framing of your attic and roof then consult with a licensed professional structural engineer. I think you’ll find that this type of renovation will be extremely expensive and time consuming. You may find it’s much easier and cheaper to just rip off the room and install new attic trusses or rafters. Of course that raises all kinds of interesting issues such as protecting your home from the elements until the new roof is fully built.
It’s also very unlikely that a local building code official would allow you to modify trusses. However, most local code officials should have a copy of the truss plans on file for newer homes. This would certainly be helpful to a structural engineer that might be hired to evaluate the options of modifying the existing trusses.
Has anyone ever tried to modify trusses in order to build a room in an attic?
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