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    Cut Trusses

    Cut Trusses

    New postby Monica Maday on Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:40 pm

    Hi, I am buying a house and my home inspector found trusses (6 vertical webs starting at the N end of the air handler and continuing North) that look like they were 'maliciously' cut. Possibly by workman when they were trying to get equipment in and out for an air conditioning repair. They are dry wall cracks along the garage ceiling and also along the master bedroom ceiling (which is along the same side of the house.) I still want to buy this house, but am wondering what type of fix will last. How do I go about finding a 'good' engineer ? I am asking on this site Jerry because I know nothing about this and really still want to go forward with the purchase and you seemed to be an inspector who knows what he is talking about and is definitely looking out for the borrower and / or seller.
    Monica Maday
    Posts: 1
    Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:21 am

    Re: Cut Trusses

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:39 pm

    Hi Monica,

    First a question, then some recommendations based on the potential answers to that question and the variances from the answers.

    When was the house constructed?

    You stated "trusses", which is good in that trusses are an engineered product and, with adequate engineering, should be fine for the life of the house, whereas conventional framing methods leave a tremendous amount of substance and longevity on the skill and knowledge of the person doing the conventional framing.

    Starting off with trusses on a house constructed within the last 5 to 10 years, it is quite likely that the trusses will have (they should have) the name of the truss manufacturer stamped on the trusses, and the truss manufacturer may still be in business. If the truss manufacturer is still in business, I suggest contracting them and having them design "appropriate repairs" to the trusses. This places that one manufacturing company with the original liability for the original truss design and with the repair for the same trusses.

    Now, presume that the trusses are not marked with the truss manufacturer's name, and / or the truss company is no longer in business. This presents additional obstacles and liability issues, however, the first place to ask would be a truss company which is currently in business as they are in the business of designing trusses and designing repairs for damaged and broken trusses. They should be able to handle the designing of appropriate repairs without any difficulty, provided they are willing to do so.

    Now, presume that another truss company is not willing to design a repair for those trusses, for whatever reason(s), leaving you with having to find an independent structural engineer.

    In many areas there are independent structural engineers who specialize in truss design, and in fact may work for one or more truss companies on an independent basis - see if a truss company which is currently in business has the name(s) of independent structural engineers who specialize in truss design.

    Lastly, failing to find any of the above, you are left with trying to find a structural engineer on your own, in which case I would first ask your local county or city building department for any names they might have. If you still come up with no name(s) for structural engineers who design trusses, you can call some smaller architects (large architectural firms would be more reluctant to provide names) and ask who they use or recommend for designing their trusses.

    If you are still without any name(s), you are down to searching in the phone book or on the internet.

    Trusses are complex systems which carry complex loads, however, there are truss engineering programs which the truss engineers use (provided they have those programs) which makes designing trusses and repairs almost a simple plugging in the load factors, dead load, live load, exposure of the structure, etc., and the program produces the design or repair.

    However, from your description, the repair sounds simple enough and should be a quite simple repair to design a repair for.

    Most of the above was in answering your question "How do I go about finding a 'good' engineer?"

    From your description of the cut trusses location in the vicinity of the air handler unit, I would guess that the HVAC contractor / installer was the mostly likely person(s) who cut those trusses. It happens all to often, and frequently is a fault of the architect for failing to notify all persons that the air handler is intended to be installed in that area of the attic. A truss company, given that knowledge, simply designs trusses which allow for the equipment to be installed in that area, with sufficient room for repair and replacement of the equipment.

    If the air handler has been replaced recently, then it is likely that the original air handler was installed in the attic before the drywall ceiling was installed, and that this was a result of the architect not advising the truss engineer the air handler was to be located there. Then the HVAC company comes out to replace the air handler and realizes there is no way to extract the old air handler and install the new one without: a) removing a large section of the drywall ceiling (which no one is going to agree to), or, b) cutting the trusses to allow access. If that is the case, I would have the seller present the bill for the repair to the HVAC contractor for reimbursement (but not expecting much of anything to come from that other than an argument - but the point needs to be made, and maybe the seller will actually get something back from them). Finally, *do not use that HVAC contractor* for future repairs, you already know that they do not care about anything other than their own work, even if it potentially can lead to a catastrophic failure of the trusses - which that could lead to.

    Best of luck on finding your truss engineer and getting the repair addressed by the seller.

    Jerry Peck - CodeMan

    Construction and Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC.
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