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Avoid Structural Problems with Your New Home

Last Updated on

One of the reasons we like to build a new home is to create a safe structure that we know will last for generations to come.  So, we want to avoid creating structural problems as we design and build the new home.  Unknowingly, many builders create potential problems by not properly integrating the different parts of the home together.

Roof Trusses

Your roof trusses are designed by the supplier to give the look you want.  Whether your new house plan has a hip roof or a simple gable setup, your truss supplier will create a roof that matches your plan while creating a roof structure that will work as a system. This system starts at the top plate of the walls and goes all the way up to the underside of the shingles.

Where you can get into trouble is when the roof truss system is designed without taking into consideration the affect it has on the rest of the home.  There will be reaction forces, also called point loads, in the structure below that will need to be supported.  You want to make sure these point loads are integrated into the house plan and properly supported to prevent future structural problems.

But doesn’t the roof truss design come with the plans?  No.  Your house plans may have a layout for the traditional rafter and beam setup, but if you want to go with trusses, you will get this design from your supplier.  Your truss supplier will design the truss system based on the local code, house plans, and the options you choose (vaulted ceilings, attic storage…etc.).  You should seriously consider trusses for your new home as they will typically save you both time and money.

Floor Framing

There are several different types of floor framing members that can be used in a new home.  Manufactured I-joists, floor trusses, and standard dimensional lumber all have the ability to support your new floors.  The pros and cons of each type of structural floor member are too much for the discussion here, but be sure to check each of these out thoroughly before making a decision.

If you do decide to go with floor trusses or manufactured i-joists, the supplier will typically provide a design.  This design usually includes everything needed inside the floor framing including beam sizes, structural members, and connectors.  But just like your roof trusses, there will most likely be point loads or concentrated reactionary forces coming down from the floor system.  These forces need to be supported properly by the home below to prevent sagging, cracking, or even structural failure.

People Involved Before Construction

In order to make certain that your new home works as a system and will be structurally sound, several people need to communicate during the pre-construction phase.  The suppliers of trusses, beams, joists, columns…etc., need to work with your architect or structural engineer to properly size all components.  The roof truss supplier will give the reactionary forces from point loads to the structural engineer (or architect) to size the columns, headers and beams below.  The same goes for all of the other component suppliers to make certain each and every part of the new home works well with the others.

Integration During Construction

The person managing the construction of your new home will make certain the workers on site install the components as prescribed by the architect, engineer, and supplier.  Something as simple as mistakenly switching the locations of two different steel columns can create future structural problems.

It’s a good idea to have all of the specifications for each critical structural member added to the house plans.  This way, the workers in the field will know exactly what needs to be done without having to ask.

Having your team members work together before and during the construction will ensure your new home will be structurally sound for years to come.

Michael Luckado

Michael Luckado has built, remodeled, and repaired thousands of homes across the U.S. He co-founded ArmchairBuilder.com to help people save money and time creating their dream home.

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