I am doing research for clients who have flat roof trusses to which they are adding a second story. We are now looking for information on the trusses to determine what their load capability is. What do you need to know to help us determine this?

Recently, I was invited to view a newly-constructed 60 ft. by 36 ft. barn, with homemade big timber trusses as follows: 36 ft. span, 12/9 pitch, construction was 26 ft. 2x12 rafters, bracing 2x6, ceiling joists were 36 ft. boxed, 6x12 out of overlapping (6 ft.), 2x12 glued and nailed center, 16 feet of joist doubled as an 8 ft. high loft, floor trusses were on 12 ft. centers atop posts deeply anchored with good footings, roof and wall cross ties were 2x6 on edge every 24 in., floor cross ties in the loft were 2x8 on edge every 16 in., 4 ft. snow load.

The lumber used in most metal plate connected wood trusses is either visually- or mechanically-graded solid sawn dimensional lumber. However, the Truss Plate Institute's ANSI/TPI 1 allows the use of structural composite lumber (SCL) products such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), laminated strand lumber (LSL) and parallel strand lumber (PSL). These engineered wood products can conceivably compete with sawn lumber and complement it in truss designs.

How do you avoid floor performance problems?

We have designed a custom home that needs a good solid floor, with low vibration perceptibility. The system we have specified consists of 2 in. of gypcrete over 1 and 1/8 in. thick plywood or OSB. The floor trusses are 20 in. deep at 16 in. O.C., spanning 31 ft. 6 in. The preliminary truss design shows a double top and bottom chord with a total load deflection of 1.30 in. (l/290) and a live load deflection of 0.65 in. (l/581). The basement ceiling will be 1/2 in. gypboard nailed to the bottom of the trusses.

Some building designers believe that gable end webs need to be L-braced to 90% of the web length, which sounds fine. However, they spec that scissors gable end webs need to be braced to 100% of the web length. That means that in the field they are notching the braces to fit around top and bottom chords – you can imagine how difficult that can be. Is that necessary or even the intent of the web L-bracing?

In our one-year-old home, as you approach the hallway, the floor slopes downward. Our home inspector said that this was most likely due to the fact that the walls were resting on the floor as opposed to being load-bearing walls. What has been your experience with sloping floors in a new home? The floors are very flat elsewhere until the walls start. Do you think this sloping could turn into a structural problem eventually?

I am a structural engineer on a project with a wood trussed roof. I have noticed some variations in the peak height in a run of identical trusses. Do you have any information on tolerances for the final dimensions of manufactured trusses?

Our home has 2x4 roof trusses spanning 25 ft. spaced 16 in. O.C. Currently, there is limited attic storage on a plywood subfloor on the bottom chords, accessed via a small hatch in a closet. We would like to install a fold-down attic stair with a rough opening size of 25.5 in. x 54 in., with the long dimension perpendicular to the trusses. This would mean cutting the bottom chords of three trusses to frame the opening. Is this possible?

Is it possible to retrofit a standard rafter/joist style roof to a scissors truss configuration without replacing the existing construction?