Truss Design: Doing the Impossible

As truss designers, we are fortunate to have built into our job description constant mental stimulation. Our job is really about putting “pieces of the puzzle” together and “making everything fit”. Sometimes we run into design project assignments that cover all 3 aspects I have just mentioned. This article is about one such project.


This particular assignment is one of those that have just about every condition you can think of in it. It would have helped if the building designer would have taken the time to figure out how to support all of these unusual conditions, but, thankfully, he left that up to me. This job was so mentally stimulating that I found it hard to walk away from it when it was time to go home.

I won’t take space to relate all of the details of the project; rather I want to focus on 2 particular conditions that a truss designer just does not see every day and hopefully inspire some creativity for when you run into something like this in the future.

Radius Wall Framing

As you can see, this project has a radius tower at the entry. The problem is, below this tower is totally open to below and no bearing is available to support it. In fact, in the first draft of the architectural plans, the radius was pushed back 7’ from where it is now, making it impossible to support. This is what I came up with to solve the problem.


To say this was fun is an understatement. It took a great deal of thought and careful mathematics to even consider this type of solution. It requires trusses on 2 different levels to transfer loads down to the foundation in order to support this 19’9” radius tower.


Upper Loft Framing

This project also had another fun challenge to overcome. There is a sloping flat roof that connects to an upper loft balcony overlook that is open to below.


In order to access this loft, some imagination had to be used, as the ceiling height over the stairway was on a plane sloping down. I ran some butt-cut, tail-bearing monos that bear directly on top of monos at the level below at one end and hang into a sloping flat girder at the other end.  Fun!

In addition, the sloping roof had to be turned and supported by the loft beam to avoid having to place loads down to a beam in the floor system that barely worked carrying only wall, jacks and floor loads.


What types of creative design have you run into recently? How did you “Do the Impossible”

Designers Wanted



If you have ever wanted to start your own business and work from home, GDI presents a unique opportunity to do just that. Below, I have co-opted a blog post I wrote last year to provide a sense of what GDI, INC looks for in those we partner with and how to assess yourself to see if you would be a good fit.

GDI, INC is looking for designers who are self-starters, and eager to operate their own business. We have the clients, agreements, and the workflow. You control your schedule, pace, etc. While many are dissuaded by the lack of a “steady” paycheck or a fixed hourly rate, I would present this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. As a contractor, your earning potential will be directly related to your performance.

One thing before I continue. Fundamentally, GDI, INC is about being in business with integrity. We don’t cut corners. We don’t knowingly do things wrong and then send it in regardless. We respond to mistakes with humility, make restitution, and learn from them. We are in business so, yes, we are about making money, but not to the exclusion of our integrity. GDI, INC is a company operated by folks of integrity and so we expect integrity of people that we partner with.

If you are interested in providing us with remote design services, contact me after you finish reading this article.

So, let’s face it, this is the age of the entrepreneur. If you are considering a move to remote truss design work start with this article before making the move.  We are going to look at the essential characteristics to help you succeed and reach your goals:

  • Humility
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • Discipline
  • Ownership
  • Communication



Want to succeed at any vocation? Be humble. This goes hand in hand with all the other traits and forms a kind of feedback loop that allows you to gauge where you are, honestly, and where course correction needs to occur.

Humility is a frame of mind which governs how we conduct ourselves, how we respond to criticism, and how we criticize others. It allows us to see our own weakness and then take steps towards growth.

How do you improve humility? One way is to become a beginner at something, where you rely on others to teach you, and where you place yourself in a position to receive criticism. Humility is always hungry to learn.

Some ideas:

  • Volunteer with a charity
  • Take music lessons
  • Take a martial arts class
  • Ask your kids to teach you something (huge for them and you!)

Humility and humor share the same root. Being able to laugh at yourself is the key to humility. Don’t be so serious that you can’t see the humor in your foibles. See them, laugh at them, and move on!

Effective and Efficient

These two are so interconnected that I will discuss them together. Tim Ferriss has a useful definition that I’ve adopted. Being effective is doing the right things, being efficient is doing those things right.

To succeed at remote truss design, we need to determine the right things to do, then we need to determine the most efficient ways to accomplish them. Doing the wrong things efficiently does not provide value. It’s still doing the wrong things.

Recently I had the opportunity to shadow my boss as he posted a blog and reviewed his social media content for the business.

He follows a sequence that he does every day, quickly moving from task to task, and he had it wrapped up in a half hour (it was that long cause he was showing me things as he went).

He posted a blog article, wrote notes to connections on LinkedIn, reviewed groups that he manages, added new connections, accepted invitations, shared an article or two that he thought would be useful, all this within a short span of time.

As I reflected on this I thought of how ineffective (not identifying and doing the right things) my social media time was. As distracting as social media can be, he found a way to navigate it through a series of tasks to be performed, completed those tasks, and moved on to the next thing on his plate while staying true to his goal to provide value to others.

That kind of approach is important as a freelancer because you aren’t often paid by the hour, but rather on a job by job basis. A job that I bill out at $200.00 will be that regardless if I spent 2 or 20 hours doing it. Succeeding at remote design then is directly related to being as effective and efficient as possible.

Now, whenever I hear someone complaining about not having enough time I wonder if they really don’t have enough time, or if they are doing the wrong things with their time. If time is a currency, then what you spend it on is more important than how much you have.

How can you become more effective?

  • Make a list of your top priorities
  • Make a list of things that you do in a day/week/month/year. Determine if those things are aligned with your priorities.
  • Ruthlessly deal with the non-priority things that you find yourself doing. Schedule them out of your time, or schedule them in where they don’t interfere with your work (e.g. check social media at lunchtime or at the end of the day, don’t allow that to enter into your work-time).

How can you become more efficient?

  • Stay up on developments in your field and the tools you use. Keep educating yourself.
  • Find ways to reduce “clicks” of the mouse, or taps on the keyboard. E.g. shortcuts to eliminate using the ribbon and drop down menus.
  • Automate as much as you can. E.g. set up a labeling scheme so that you have very minimal manual labeling to do.
  • Is there a menu default that doesn’t match up with what you need 99% of the time? Look into settings to change the defaults. Now you only change it for the 1% of the outlier situations.
  • Give yourself time limits and goals for completing a job. This can add a sense of urgency and focus on the task at hand. E.g. aim to have a job done by 3 pm so you can spend time with your kids when they get home from school.



Like we talked about, Freelancing is the dream. You have leeway in setting your schedule, the frequency of work, what work you accept, etc. But, is it the freedom that everyone craves?

Not without discipline. Without discipline, being a freelancer will be torturous. Deadlines won’t be met, money will be tight, everyone at your house will hate you because you are stressed out.

Discipline is that inner voice, yours (I hope!), telling you what to do and then obeying it.

How do you improve your discipline?

  • Start the day with a simple goal and follow through with it. E.g. set your alarm and get up when it goes off!
  • Continue through the day with goals that you set ahead of yourself and execute.
  • Decision fatigue will give way to discipline. Discipline in one area begets discipline in other areas.
  • Don’t put it off! Take little steps now!


Is it possible to “own” something that you don’t truly own? Absolutely. When you take on the mindset of treating a company or a job as if your own interests are at stake you will enter into an ownership mindset.

Personally, I have been both an employee and an employer. I know what it is like on both sides and so whatever hat I happen to be wearing the “flip side” has informed how I operate.

Whether as an owner, employee, or freelancer it is important to view the success or failure of your employer or clients as your own. Taking ownership means owning the failures and owning the solutions to the problems that you encounter and not putting them off on others.

What does this mindset look like? Here are some examples:

  • Bill your client as if you were paying the bill. That changes things, doesn’t it? Adding in padding that shouldn’t be there only hurts your client and could even end your work relationship. Think about how you would respond to an invoice that was higher than expected or reasonable.
  • Treat omissions as opportunities. When you realize that you missed something in your work, don’t ignore or hide it. Take it to your client. Say, “Hey, I did this work and in reviewing it later I see I missed X, Y, Z. What can I do to make this right?” They may not be happy, but this would at least give them the opportunity to correct the issues. Ultimately, I think they would respect you more and it would increase rather than detract from your credibility.
  • If a project fails don’t blame others. Blame yourself and learn from your mistakes. If someone under you fails, don’t blame them, blame yourself for not giving them the direction they need. Then take it upon yourself to train them up to avoid those mistakes in the future.
  • Ownership is all encompassing. It is saying “the buck stops here” even if your title doesn’t say “CEO” or “President”. That doesn’t mean you park in the CEO’s parking spot. If you do, you didn’t get that advice from me!

Let me answer one objection. It would run along the lines of, “But, if I take ownership of mine and other people’s mistakes, I’m going to be sacked” or “I’m going to lose clients!”

If you lose your job because you took responsibility, then the company wasn’t worth working for and you are better off. No. What happens when people take responsibility for mistakes and who work to grow and learn from them all the while creating solutions? They are given more responsibility. What is responsibility? You guessed it: “Ownership”.


We have had many good blog articles on communication that you can find here and here and here that I will refer you to for review if you want to go into greater depth on this topic. Here are the basics.

It is important to remember that our communication is with people, not robots. People have thoughts, feelings, stresses, and tensions in their life… all of which affect their communication.

Working remotely requires the right balance of communication, but it is better to err on too much to start, and dial it down, rather than not enough.

Here are some ways to improve communication:

  • Determine how to communicate on a person by person basis. What method (phone, email, texting, or another messaging tool) and what style (personal, formal, chatty, to the point, etc.).
  • Follow up vital information provided over the phone with an email summarizing that information. Get your client to confirm.
  • Ask questions. If you think they will make you look stupid, just think about how stupid you will look if you provide a product that is wrong… all because you didn’t ask. Ask questions!

Remember that communication is more about building relationships than just gathering information.


We hope this gets you thinking about what it will take to succeed at remote truss design or whatever it is you have set as a goal. What thoughts do you have on what it takes to succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales – – 276-492-8020

Gould Design, INC

There Is An “I” In Team

We are all familiar with the old adage “There is no “I” in team”, right? Well, it might be time to give that conclusion a second look. Seems that times-are-a-changing! In order be successful, we will need to change with the times or get left behind.


Here at Gould Design, Inc., we like to use an acronym for “TEAM” that some of you may be familiar with:





This acronym says pretty plainly how important unity is to success, does it not? Yet in our day and age, things have changed. We live in an age where there is more instant gratification than ever before (text messages, email, etc.) and somehow we have become addicted to it. Think about it. How many times do you check your phone an hour? A day? Do you ever turn it off for an entire day? You probably just checked it right now!

In a team, even that “space” in the picture referenced above has its place. How? One word: Perspective. Sometimes we can learn the most, not from those that agree with us, but those that don’t!

Even an @$$hole has its place and time. Everyone adapts this trait from one time to another. Or at the very least, we certainly know someone who resembles one, right? At the end of the day, there is only One who can judge, our job is to find a spot on the team for that “space.”

What’s the point?

When we can persist with the perspective of an open mind, sometimes our worst enemies can be our best teachers. As one wise man once said, “I would never have understood success had I not failed first.” Another said, “Success is failure turned inside out.” After all, a man I am sure everyone has heard of named Walt Disney filed bankruptcy multiple times until he found success. Yet, he persisted. Click here to review some other famous and successful people who also has a similar path to success.

When a business-minded person can use the invaluable tool of empathy to try to really understand the other person’s point of view, success occurs. Learning is the natural result. When we truly have the best interest of the “TEAM” at heart, we will take the time to listen to those willing to share their opinion, success occurs.

I would like to introduce another acronym for you to ponder:





Empowering &



If you can find a way to make that “space” fit in your team, you will benefit more than you can imagine. What have you got to lose besides becoming that “space”? Give yourself a chance to find out!

Gould Design, Inc. Administration

Continuing Education: A Cost or an Investment?

I was privileged to attend a Virginia Tech continuing education course titled “Introduction to Structural Design of Wood Buildings per the 2015 NDS”. The course instructors included the legendary Frank Woeste P.E. Ph.D., John “Buddy” Showalter P.E., and Joe Loferski Ph.D.

In later blog posts, I’ll touch on some of the topics covered during the three-day course as well as introduce some of the resources that are available to those involved in the building industry for those who may be unfamiliar with them. Today, however, I want to answer the question posed above.

The Cost

For truss design, there aren’t any “truss designer” continuing education requirements from outside governing bodies. This is primarily because responsibility for overall building design doesn’t fall on the truss designer. So, why attend? Isn’t that just a waste of time and money? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on delivering a quality service to our clients? Consider that we incurred direct expenses (the course cost, hotel, food, travel, etc.) Indirectly, the staff at Gould Design, INC. had to cover for me while I was out of the office for three very busy days. In short, one way to look at this course is its cost. Was it worth it?

The answer will differ depending on perspective. A pure accounting perspective would attempt to measure the cost and project a return. However, a return on education is difficult to measure and the return on investment (ROI) may look different depending on the individual.

Investing for the Future

To invest is to enter into a long-term mindset. We have accepted the use of time and other resources now (the cost we talked about earlier) in the hope that the short-term sacrifice will benefit the organization in the future. Education supplies us where we were deficient and equips us for the complex challenges we may face as we apply our new found knowledge and skills in our work.

Not only does the individual who received the education grow, but he or she can then take what they have learned and teach others. This magnifies the impact of that initial investment.

Without this long-term mindset, an organization will stagnate and loses its ability to compete with other companies that are investing in their people.

Fortunately for me, Gould Design Inc. has and will continue to invest in its employees which in turn is an investment for the future growth of GDI, INC.

Tim Hoke – Design Manager / Sales

Gould Design Inc.

Look for more posts regarding this course in the weeks to come!


The 7 “H’s” of Words and Their Power


Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble. – Yehuda Berg

Have you ever stopped to consider why you have 2 ears and one mouth? How much time do you spend talking instead of listening? Why do we, as humans, think that words are harmless? The fact is, words are more powerful than we admit. As the opening quote relates, words can either harm or heal.


There is a brilliant author named Joseph Telushkin who has written an incredible book called Words that Hurt, Words that Heal: How to Use Words Wisely and Well. I cannot possibly add to his brilliance and eloquence in that masterpiece of literature, so I will simplify the teaching for those that wish to read on.


Words that improve something or someone.


Words that correct something.


Words that prevent something positive.


Words that diminish something or someone.


Words that inflict pain on something or someone.


Words that embarrass something or someone.


Words that enhance something or someone.

Think back to one your own most painful event in life. Was it words? Do yourself a favor and choose them carefully.


Gould Design, Inc. Administration

Bidding Practices that are Just Good Enough Can Cost Tens of Thousands in Additional Net Profit


Two very distinct aspects of the bidding calculation could be costing your company tens of thousands of dollars. If you were shown a better bidding method, would you allow your pride to prevent you from testing it and, if it works, taking the time to embrace it to improve your company’s bottom line? It is all too often stated, “This is the way we have been doing it for decades, and it is good enough.” Good enough bidding practices may be costing you tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profit.


Your manufacturing has a finite amount of total production time, and the old saying that time is money has never been so true. Net profit is derived using the total gross margin (GM) rather than total sales, so make sure the bids that your company is winning are providing the greatest GM dollars for the least amount of time possible. (Sales Price – Material and Labor Cost = GM)

Time is money, and the labor estimation in the bidding calculation is far more important than just accounting for the labor cost. Too many managers say, “Our labor estimation is good enough because our labor costs average out pretty well.” Instead of spending the time to make the labor time estimation generated by the truss program accurate on the individual order level, most managers believe using monthly averages is good enough. Most CMs have only made small changes to their dollar per unit labor estimation and simply ignored complex individual time factors.


Most companies have about a dozen labor factors in the labor estimation configuration setup that are supposed to adjust for every condition. This is not enough! When you’re serious about understanding the results of your current labor estimation practices, use a spreadsheet to review the actual versus estimated labor time over a given month for each of the individual orders. (Labor time, not labor cost!) Most are quite shocked by how poor their labor estimation is at the individual order level, let alone the individual truss cutting and assembly time.

Too many falsely believe that they can use recordings of historical order labor time to develop their own time standards, which is a flawed method by industrial engineering standards for many reasons. Instead, why not plug proven time standards into your truss labor estimation programs? There are over 120 different factors to choose from based on equipment and material. TDC’s are accurate down to the truss build and cutting activity level. (


Just because your competition’s pricing may make it seem like they are a bunch of monkeys throwing darts at a wall, this does not mean you cannot improve your bidding methods. It is very simple and can be proven using a spreadsheet and past orders’ actual labor times versus their true GMs. The key to garnering better profits is to win the bids that have higher GMs per man-hour instead of a cost markup.

Each order that you manufacture is essentially renting your company’s production time with GM dollars. Some orders provide greater GMs per man-hour than others. However, most are clueless about this concept because they do not track each order’s actual labor time, let alone on a GM per man-hour basis. Too many are satisfied with monthly averages without ever knowing that some orders are consuming far too many man-hours for the amount of GM dollars earned. These high labor orders with low material cost drastically reduce the total GM for any time period when the cost markup method is used. It is far better to use this simple GM formula:


Yes, I understand that cost markup has been used for decades, but it is a seriously flawed method. Every time people test the GM per man-hours against a cost markup to establish a baseline for the sales price, GM per man-hours wins hands down every time, no exceptions. For more about this proven bidding method, contact me for a spreadsheet that proves this concept. All who have embraced it swear that it has garnered tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profits.

Now that you understand why accurate time standards are so important, you should find that the purchase price for TDC’s time standards is far cheaper than the flawed methods of trying to derive your own based on historical data or trial and error. TDC’s time standards can easily be proven in the manufacturing area and then quickly applied in the bidding process after confirmation. It works great with MiTek MVP®.

To summarize, one needs to accurately estimate the labor time for each order and then use it as a baseline to establish the minimum gross margin. Once you pay attention to expected GM per man-hour, it is very easy to understand why it makes perfect sense to lower the GM when your company is only experiencing spare capacity. Your company will begin to earn tens of thousands of dollars in additional net profits using this proven bidding method.

Todd Drummond Consulting, 90+ Consultations, 25+ Years in the Truss Industry and 10+ Years in the Consultation Business. The most comprehensive and refined consulting service in the component industry. No one is better than TDC to provide your company with proven results. See the many testimonials on my website.


Todd Drummond Consulting, LLC




How Solid Is Your Foundation?

In the world in which we live, the foundation upon which something rests determines its sustainability and longevity. The quality of this foundation determines all of the factors that go into the successful utilization of whatever is built on it. A weak foundation means that whatever rests above is merely temporary. A solid foundation ensures something much more permanent. The question becomes: How do we know if our foundation is solid?


In this article, I am going to answer that question by addressing different types of foundations as they relate to the “4 Quadrants” of life.  These quadrants are:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual

I am sure many of you already heard of these quadrants and are wondering how I can add anything to your knowledge base. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. For those of you not familiar with these quadrants, you are in for a real treat!


A physical foundation can be many, many different things. A concrete slab of a house. Earth. A steady, sustainable job. Education. A properly maintained vehicle.

For this article, I am going to focus on the material aspect from a business standpoint. When my husband and I started Gould Design, Inc., we started with the foundation of his skill set and my own. We built a business that was based on the eternal principles of honesty, integrity, open-mindedness, quality and willingness to adapt and innovate. This foundation was very secure because it was unwavering. It had built into itself the necessary tools to dictate its direction. The results have been more than I ever imagined.

Since his retirement from the company, I have been able to maintain this solid foundation just as we implemented it over a decade ago. Why? Because the foundation was unshakeable. It was built the same way it was intended and was quality checked by our peers. There have been times where I have wanted to expand revenue and get into other areas of the construction industry, but have decided not to after some experimentation. I simply was not willing to compromise the foundational principles that I built this company on. Sure the expansion would have been nice, but at what cost? If even one of the founding principles was compromised, the cost was simply too great a price to pay.


When most folks think of the mental foundation, they think of education. As you can see from the above, I disagree. Education is a physical foundation. What then is a mental foundation?

Simply put, it is optimism. In each and every event in my life, I challenge myself to look for the good in it, no matter how dark, dreary or inconvenient it may be. A successful mental foundation requires me to look for the good. After all, as Earl Nightingale said back in the 50’s “We become what we think about.” Click here to listen to this incredible, perspective shifting recording and here to read a previous article written in detail on this topic.

The fact of the matter is, whether you realize it or not, your positive thoughts radiate energy and influence your health. The people around you sense this energy. Think about it. Have you ever been near someone you did not know that made you feel uncomfortable, even though they were well groomed? Chances are that individual was a pessimist and was radiating negative energy through their thoughts. Do yourself a favor and radiate positive energy. You family, coworkers and everyone you meet will thank you for it. Besides, they deserve that from you, and, more importantly, you deserve it for yourself.


The emotional quadrant is quite complex. It begins at birth, and, in the early years of our lives, is controlled by our family. As we mature, we begin to take control of this area of our lives long before we even realize what is happening. As adults, this quadrant controls us and how others see us in life.  How do we get a solid emotional foundation?

If you are married or have children, you already know the answer. If you are not, the answer is simple, yet very complicated: True Love. You see there are all kinds of love. Some people love things, some feelings, some even live thrills or attention. None of these are “true” love. In order for something to be true, it has to be built on honesty and self-sacrifice. It will not always be how you think it should be, nor will it always be pleasant. In fact, you are going to find yourself bonding closest with the person you truly love in the worst of times, not the best.

A solid emotional foundation begins and ends with you bring to the relationship, not what you take from it. So many people today marry for the wrong reasons, and the divorce rate is now hovering around 50%. Sad but true. If a new couple would take the time to get beyond the main issues of money, property or prestige that they would “get” from their prospective spouse, they could have a chance at a solid foundation. My husband and I are complete opposites in just about everything you can think of. This is an excellent foundation for our relationship because we always have to compromise and consider the other person’s point of view. We have to agree to disagree. We have to communicate. What a gift this is, as our love continues to grow ever so much deeper each and every day. It is such a blessing as our 4 children get to watch us live in this sturdy emotional foundation.


I know, I know. You are thinking religion, right? Wrong! Religion is about rituals that foster spirituality. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting it at all. We practice our religion each and every day in our home. The fact of the matter is, religion is not spirituality. How many “religious” people do you know that aren’t spiritual? On the same token, how many “spiritual” people do you know that aren’t religious?

What then is a spiritual foundation? Such an easy answer to say, but difficult to understand, and, oftentimes, to carry out. A spiritual foundation is doing G-d’s will as He would have me do. It is making the world a better place than it was before I entered it. This could be as simple as holding open a door for an elderly person or letting someone “in”, in traffic. It could be making donations to the needy or volunteering at your local soup kitchen. There are so many different ways to feed the spiritual side our ourselves. And in so doing, we reduce the time we spend thinking of ourselves, thus leading to true happiness and contentment in life.

When my spiritual foundation is solid, I naturally feed the other 3 quadrants and improve them. I naturally live a principle-centered life and try to help others as often as I can. The spiritual side of life is the one that contains all the gifts that I read about in religious literature, which teaches us that humility is the greatest characteristic a human being can possess. Humility naturally generates gratitude. And gratitude enables me to so many things that I do not have the strength to do. After all, there is only one thing I can truly take with me when I leave this world: my good deeds.

So, dear reader, how solid is your foundation?

In reading this article, I hope I have opened your eyes to just one thing that may help you assess your current foundations. If we are building foundations on things like referenced in the picture above, the sooner we recognize this, the better. After all, our spouses, children, co-workers and fellow inhabitants of the earth are counting on us. I look forward to reading your comments below and learning about your own personal foundations.

Naida Gould – Owner

Gould Design, Inc.

How Are You Rewarded For Your Performance, Part 5

It is clear when browsing through business related articles, that the primary concern of professionals in every industry is performance. Performance can be defined as:

“The action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.”

We also see this in articles and books that focus on being effective, efficient, or productive.

Performance is action-oriented. It is geared towards getting things done. This is rightfully a concern among professionals. It is a valid pursuit to improve our performance, our ability to overcome obstacles and accomplish tasks. Beyond performance, however, we must assess the why and how of our work.

Why do we work? How do we go about it?

It is at this point that I want to remind ourselves that humans are in fact, human. Humans are not robots. It is important to remember that about ourselves and about those we work with.

When a co-worker is underperforming, it is important to look at what is going on behind the scenes in this person that could be contributing to their not meeting deadlines or letting details slip in their work.

The analysis could go along two avenues, first, is there something that we are doing as a company that is inhibiting this person’s ability to do their work? Lack of information, resources, or tools (as well as many other factors)? Second, is there an issue at home that is acting in a debilitating manner on their ability to work. This should be handled discreetly, but also with true concern for the individual, not merely the companies bottom line. What can we as a company do to assist them in bringing their home life into order, or create a better balance between the two?

Rewarding or punishing merely based upon performance may, in fact, be shortsighted and overly simplistic. Looking deeper at underlying issues will enhance our ability to understand why someone’s performance is at the level it is. This is true for both the over-achiever and under-performer.

Do we as a company reinforce a work/life balance that is not balanced at all? Do we “reward” those that work overtime with accolade and bonuses? Do we look down on those who “just” put in their 40 hours and go home to invest in their families? Asking those questions and reflecting on the answer will give you a picture of what you and your company values.

Remembering that my co-workers and my clients are human beings worthy of my respect and thoughtful consideration is essential to the satisfaction I derive out of my own performance. What about you?

Read Part 4 here

Read Part 3 here

Read Part 2 here

Read part 1 here

Properly Analyze False Bottom Under-Framing

What is false bottom under-framing, you ask. To put it simply, false bottoms are non-structural filler chords attached to the bottom chord of a truss (see below). They are used in a number of different situations including, but not limited to double step ceiling conditions, ceiling height changes, and vaulted ceiling conditions. The benefits of using false bottoms consist of less on-site framing, less expensive truss material cost, and more efficient labor during truss manufacturing. Client preferences, architectural plans, and designer discretion determine when false bottom under-framing is useful.


Briefly, I would like to talk about how a false bottom is created using MiTek. The command can be located under the “Tools” menu in the upper left, by placing it in a toolbar, or by creating a hotkey for it. Once the command is open, the dialog is completed with the information needed for the filler.



In the location box, the option of which side to start from is provided. In this case, the filler started at 5-1/2” in from the left end of the truss. The “End at” field indicates where the false bottom stops. 6’ 8” was used in this example. The starting height of “0” indicates that the underside of the false bottom is the same as the plate height, or bearing height, of the truss. If a false bottom is being applied to create a ceiling height change of 1’, the starting height would be 1’. Either a slope or an end height may be used to create a vaulted false bottom. Extensions left or right will extend the bottom filler chord; however, the vertical filler members are not present over the extended horizontal member. “Stud spacing”, “Min. Stud Length”, “Butt Cut”, and “Stud From” are all adjustable and are used to meet client specifications and building codes.

Alright, now we can move on to the important stuff. The filler chords in a false bottom are non-structural because they don’t contribute to the matrix of the truss itself. However, when analyzing a truss with a false bottom condition there are certain aspects that the designer must consider. Normally drywall is applied directly to the bottom chord of a truss. When there is a false bottom, the drywall is applied to the filler chord instead of the bottom chord in that area of the truss. In other words, the false bottom under-framing must still be analyzed by the software.

In another instance, the filler chords require plates throughout the false bottom and plates to affix the under-framing to the bottom chord of the truss. Sometimes, based on location, plates will overlap in the area where the truss bottom chord and the filler chords join. Overlapping plates are not O.K., they are bad. When plates overlap it causes an insufficient grip between the teeth of the plate and the member of the truss. Improper plating of a truss has a significant structural impact and will cause the truss to fail. In the following example, the plates overlap slightly. The integrity of each plate is intact and so the joint plates and the truss passes.


We want to make sure that the system is setup to provide a proper analysis in the two previous scenarios. Prior to analyzing the truss, verify that the system will plate non-structural members. There are a couple ways to access the plating options in the MiTek engineering program. The edit dropdown at the top left houses the plate options menu. Plating can be viewed by going into truss basics (Ctrl+B). Another option would be to setup a hotkey for the plating options menu.


Once inside the plate options menu, scroll down until you see the following:


Make sure that “Plate separately” is selected from the drop down next to “Non-structural members”. Next, analyze the truss. Analysis of a truss will provide any necessary bracing required. Any bracing displayed by the engineering drawings must be adhered to in the field. As discussed previously, the drywall for the ceiling is applied to the false bottom. Purlin bracing must be used in those areas. If there aren’t any structural issues, the truss will pass and may be saved.


Now we are able to properly create and analyze a false bottom in MiTek. Not only are false bottoms a time saver, but also they are more economic. In a few short and easy steps, fillers may be added to a truss. The Proper analysis provides accurate truss drawings that must be replicated both by the truss manufacturer and the builder.

Those are just a few tips we have. What tips and tricks do you use?

Admin – Gould Design Inc.

Eight Reasons for Reflective Conversation Emails Following Verbal Instruction

Any man who has ever tried to provide driving instructions to his significant other already has a full understanding of the purpose for a reflective email. Though I would never suggest sending the significant other an email with the directions, the man already knows that within 5 minutes he will get a call and have to start over with which turn is next and what the road will look like.


My point here is that people can only retain so much. Even taking notes during a conversation doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes valuable instructions are missed or forgotten.

  • Interpretation

Communication is an amazing thing. It takes on a life of its own from one person to another. Language is deeply immersed in an individual’s culture. That being said, the degree of understanding is profoundly impacted by how something is said as well as the level of comprehension on a matter. During verbal instruction, the direction is given. One way to make sure that the directions are followed is by sending a follow-up email. The email should be a summary of the conversation and highlight any action items or tasks that need to be accomplished. It should not rehash the conversation again.

  • Completeness

This is twofold. A person may have a list of what they want to be accomplished sitting in front of them during the conversation. Maybe there wasn’t time for a list. In either case, when one sits down and makes a list of directions he or she may realize that pertinent information was inadvertently left out of the conversation. To revisit interpretation, the person receiving direction may not have gotten everything the first time around. An email providing a complete rendering of the verbal direction is helpful for both parties.

  • Record (Cover Your Tail)

It is always important to make sure that your bases are covered. Depending on someone else’s integrity or memory is a sketchy plan, at best. Plus, with all the conversations and emails I go through in a day, it is a wonder that at 5 pm I still remember my first name. Once the verbal instruction is given, only the people in the conversation are privy to it. A reflection email makes it so that both sides have something to fall back on should there be an issue with the matter in the future.

  • Professionalism

Again, men do not send reflection emails to your significant other after verbal direction. That will only bring you misery. If the verbal instruction is provided in a professional forum, make sure to keep it professional. Sending an email outlining what was discussed is a lot like sending a thank you note after an interview or including a cover letter with a resume. It is a professional way to make sure the information stands out.

  • Reflection (Questions from the instructed party)

In my experience, when I’m receiving verbal instruction I like to write down the main points and I like to make sure that I’m understanding what is being requested of me. Sometimes, the conversation gets a little off track. When I receive a reflective email after verbal instruction, it gives me a little extra time to interpret what was said and formulate any extra questions that I might have. If I find that I need to ask more questions, there is no need for me to go into an explanation about my query. I can simply reply to the email with my question near the correlating instruction in a different color.

  • Check List

One of the main reasons I appreciate a reflective email after the verbal instruction is because it allows me to work through a comprehensive list of what needs to be accomplished. Being able to run through item by item and check off what I have gotten accomplished affords me the ability to provide a timeframe for completion as well as a way to stay on track. Both of these things are of extreme importance in a professional atmosphere.

  • Reference

Technically speaking, an email outlining an instructional conversation is a reference. The idea is that the person accomplishing the tasks set forth in the original conversation will have something to look back on. It is a way to ensure proper completion of the direction. When used properly, the “Check List” aspect and the “Reference” aspect work as one.

  • Flow of Communication

It is important to ensure a good flow of communication. Of course, verbal communication is very important. Much can be encompassed in a few short minutes by speaking with someone else. However, in this age, there are a number of different ways to communicate. It is important to utilize as many forms of communication as necessary. An email outlining a directional conversation is just another form of communication. The email also provides the opportunity for the instructor to indicate availability to address any concerns or questions on the matter.

There are pros for both parties. They can be sure the directions were detailed and complete. They can also revisit the email as many times as needed to get the job done. In reality, sending a follow-up email only takes a few minutes and it manages to alleviate confusion, frustration, and incomplete tasks. It isn’t necessarily the email itself that opens the lines of communication, but more the act of sending it. As far as business best practices, a reflective email after verbal instruction should be an integral part of any professional company.

Admin – Gould Design, Inc.