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Experimenting With Truss Design

Over the 2014 summer months there was a series of article written about Crazy and Complicated Truss Design. Here is the link to first article in the series. https://goulddesigninc.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/crazy-and-complicated-truss-designs/

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In a world of truss companies trying to maximize profits and increase efficiencies, there are a few key questions we must ask ourselves:

  • How do we as truss designers get to the point where we are experimenting with truss designs and sending them to the shop for production?
  • Who is driving the changes?
  • Is this a customer driven issue or is it the ability of the truss designer increasing?

We can all agree that roof trusses have come a long way since their inception.  When I first started in the truss industry over 20 years ago, the most complicated truss on a house would most likely be a partial vault that at times may have a fir down on it.  Not a lot of thought there.  Most of the complicated roofs and ceilings were stick framed.  Fast forward to today and not a lot has changed in my area.  Sure we do a little more intricate designs than the vaulted truss, but for the most part the designs do not stray too far from where they always have been.

What brought about this idea in my head was overhearing a conversation between the general manager at my plant and a new designer.  I had helped the new designer out with a plan that we received.  The plan showed attic trusses with a coffered ceiling below.  The general consensus in the office when the plans came in was, ‘This is CRAZY, can’t be done.’  But I had just recently read the ‘Crazy and Complicated Truss Design’ article and in fact designed and delivered trusses very similar to the trusses the house designer was looking for.

The new designer sat down with me and we designed a truss that was pretty close to the picture on the plans.  He finished the job and turned it into the manager for pricing.  The manager gave it back to him and said, ‘Trusses like this won’t work and we don’t do stuff like this.’  Why?  Where does this thinking come from when obviously in other parts of the country extravagant trusses are being produced and delivered?

So this brings me back to my original question, how do we as truss designers or even truss plants, get to the point of stretching our abilities?

Most truss plants these days have design criteria for just about everything.  Some plants won’t build hip trusses that pick up all the roof planes they cross through. Other plants may build the hip master and then make all the trusses behind it the same.  None the less, we all have criteria that we need to stick to and the truss plants have trusses that they would prefer to build.

So how is it that some plants will design and build the complex junk, while others will keep trusses mainstreamed?

I believe that a lot of this is market driven.  If the truss plants in a specific area are used to building the trusses ‘The Way We Have Always Built Trusses’, it will take someone thinking outside the box to come in a convince a Production Manager that it can be done.  But this will also take a little acceptance on the buyer’s side as well.  If we as truss designers are willing and able to get creative and make abstract trusses work on a house, then the people purchasing them will also have to be willing to pay the higher price for the end product.

In what ways have you seen “experimenting” done successfully at your facility? Please share your thoughts.

Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.