Q&A / 

Roof Trusses and Cranes

DEAR TIM: I am hoping you can help me address a concern I am having with my builder. Being a career military man I have no prior experience in home construction. However, I am planning on retiring in Tampa at the conclusion of my current tour of duty at US Central Command. My wife and I recently placed a down payment on a pre-construction home site with a builder in Pasco County.

Naturally, my wife and I go visit the construction site every weekend to see what progress has been made. A few weeks ago we noticed that there was a piece of particle board used in the framing of the house located at the gable peak above the garage door that has a jagged hole in it large enough for you to put your fist through. It appears as if someone smashed a hole in it with a hammer, and yet the board was used anyway. Since the exterior of the home will merely be stucco, there will be nothing reinforcing the stucco at this particular spot of the house which concerns me a great deal. I also inspected three other homes being built in the neighborhood that were the same model and found that none of the other three had the same damage.

I began sending e-mails to the on-site supervisor concerning the damaged board. This was within a day or two of the board being nailed into place. The supervisor has ignored my weekly e-mails and continues to make progress in the area covering up the board which in turn makes it more difficult to replace.

Yesterday my patience with the supervisor came to an end and I wrote a similar e-mail to the general manager asking for him to look into the issue, and have the board replaced. Much to my surprise he replied as follows:

Mr. Watson,

I reviewed your item of concern. The hole you see in the OSB board at the peak of the gable is a normal construction practice. The framers build the gable on the ground. It is usually done this way. The reason the hole is there is for the hook for the crane. When the framers set the trusses they pre-build what they can and have the crane hoist it up while he is there to set the rest of the trusses.

If you look at other houses with gable roofs you will see the same thing in most of them.

This area gets covered with Tyvek, along with the rest of the gable. It then gets wire lathe and 5/8" of stucco. The hole left from the crane hook does not pose any structural problems and does not require a repair.

I am sorry this was not explained to you when you first brought it up. I will make sure you receive explanations for items of this nature in a timely matter in the future.

Of course, not having the knowledge or experience to know if I can trust the manager's answer above, I am hoping that you might be able to assist me by providing guidance.

Yours in service to our great nation,

James Watson, LtCol USMC - Tampa, FL

DEAR LTCOL WATSON:

In my opinion, the general manager's response was well crafted but it has at least one half-truth in it. My take away from his letter implies that their building practices are indeed industry standards which is debatable. As for a half-truth, I have always felt one is a whole lie.

Let's start with the jagged hole in the oriented strand board (OSB). I am quite sure the hole was chopped by the framing crew so they could indeed insert the crane's sling within the truss webbing. I also agree it is far easier to apply the OSB to the truss on the ground while it is laying flat rather than up in the air in a vertical orientation.

But I have applied sheathing to hundreds of gable trusses myself and I also know it is easy to carefully cut off the top 10 inches of the OSB exposing the truss webbing. This small triangle of OSB can then be quickly nailed in place once the truss is set and braced. From the ground, only a trained eye would see the saw cut line.

Does this method require more work and effort? Of course it does, perhaps an extra minute or two. Would a craftsman invest that time? Undoubtedly yes.

I do not agree with the accepted practice of spanning the void with just wire lath. At the very least a patch of OSB can be installed from the inside face of the truss. This repair will take 10 to 15 minutes, but that is a small amount of time and the penalty should be absorbed by the framing crew or your builder who is ultimately responsible.

In closing I wish to thank you and every other member of the armed services on behalf of my family and myself. We deeply appreciate your service and sacrifice to our country.

Column EM0014

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