Wednesday, December 9, 2009

another roof problem

Carl Lehmann writes a weekly column for Bluffton Today:

Sunnyside Up for Dec 10, 2009

Recently the truss problem in Sun City reared its head once more. My readers may recall that a couple of years ago one of our residents, an engineer, alerted building officials and Pulte that the fastenings of valley trusses to the underlying trusses were improper. It took a while but the county finally decided to investigate and found that trusses were indeed attached incorrectly. The county hired independent inspectors who checked over 2,000 homes and found that about 25% needed repair. Those of us with homes built before 2004 were assured that all of our trusses met the building codes. We all thought that this would settle the problem.

It now turns out that new homes being built in the Reflection section of Sun City also have problems. A private house inspector discovered them. Of course, Pulte’s immediate reaction was to deny any problems exist. The county also called the inspector’s report incorrect. Subsequently, the county, Pulte and the inspector met and determined that there was a problem again.

Up to this point, I had really ignored this whole thing. When it first came up, I took a quick look in the attic and saw plenty of hurricane clips holding truss to truss. Obviously, I didn’t have a problem.

Then came the new allegations. I decided to take advantage of being in the attic getting our Christmas decorations and took another look. As before, there were plenty of hurricane clips. Instead of valley trusses improperly fastened to trusses I found a much different problem. The main roof trusses were fastened to a rafter right near the little storage platform in the attic. What I saw scared the living daylights out of me. Each truss was held in place by a metal hanger. Each hanger was securely nailed to the rafter. The trusses should have fitted so that they would butt up against the rafter and then be nailed to the hanger. This is where the problem comes in. Every rafter was between one inch to one and a quarter inches too short. None of the nails that were supposed to nail the truss to the hanger even touched the truss or went into the rafter. (See the picture)

What did this really mean. Would my roof fly off during the next storm? What should I do to fix it? I didn’t know and so I asked an expert who came over and took a look. Although he had inspected numerous truss problems in Sun City, this one was new to him. He suggested several possibilities of fixing this mess. None will be easy to do.

He finally concluded that it would probably take a major hurricane to produce enough upward pressure to lift the entire roof up. However all bets would be off if the garage door was compromised and the wind could exert both pressure and pull on the roof.

I think Ray Koenig, a Sun City resident, deserves a big great thank you for initially finding the problems and keeping the pressure up until something was done by the county and by Pulte.

As for me, I nominate Pulte for the “Quality Homebuilders Award of the Year”

Carl Lehmann is a Sun City resident. You can reach him at

The photo in Carl’s column shows one of about 20 trusses supporting a section of his garage roof. All 20 or so are the same as the one in the photo.

Another name for hurricane strap or hurricane clip is “tie down”. It doesn’t take an expert to tell that the ends of these trusses aren’t “tied down”.


  • Why didn't the subcontractor's roof framer who did this do it right?
  • Why didn’t the roof framer’s foreman require that it be done correctly?
  • Why didn’t the Developer/General Contractor require that these trusses be tied down?
  • Why didn’t Beaufort County’s building inspector require the Developer/General Contractor to tie down the trusses in Carl’s garage?
  • How many homeowners here (including me) have been sold shoddily constructed houses that don't meet the state building code, because of the reckless actions of Pulte Homes, Pulte's subcontractors, and the Beaufort County Office of Building Code Enforcement?

Some Master Builder!



Yaj said...

Ray, I took time to write to Carl. Here is my email.

Carl -

I read your article. Ray sent it to me. Ray and I have corresponded for some time regarding all these Sun City problems. I have many many suggestions, including the private inspections. Not only are the problems found laughable, in a dark way, Pulte's responses to the many requests for repairs and fixes are just as laughable.

To answer your bullet questions at the bottom:
1. The roof framers did not know what they were doing. Perhaps they were, what I call, 7-11 construction where the sub goes to 7-11 in the mornings to pick up cheap "roofers." You get what you pay for. Such a practice is common around here. You all probably have your own version of 7-11 and you know what I mean.
2. The roof framing foreman probably did not even notice. If he did notice, he obviously did not care. I don't know which is worse.
3. The Developer/GC probably did, and assumed it was done correctly. You know what happens when we assume.
4. Are you joking? They are very interested in seeing the big picture. They diligently check GFI outlets and smoke detectors (liability). The rest is detail that is universally overlooked. Here is a link to my website of something typical I saw just the other day -- enough said?

I confess I have never seen such an installation as those roof trusses. I don't know what they were thinking. But I do see very poor quality work nearly every time I do a new home inspection. My reason for the poor quality of the work is professionalism. And that, in my opinion, is because of the people hired to do the work. They are often mostly illegals and have no idea what they are doing. Again, you get what you pay for.

Good article. I hope something comes of it for you. My fingers are crossed.

Jay Markanich

JFM said...

Photos showing the hanger condition from further away would be necessary to completely understand which framing members are involved. The term "rafter" is not appropriate. However, based on explanation by Mr. Koenig, it sounds as if the hanger is supporting roof trusses over a garage.

The hanger is face-mounted to some supporting element that is not (and should be) identified. If the supporting element is another roof truss, the connection should have been designed by the truss engineer. Otherwise, the connection should have been designed by the building designer (architect or consulting engineer).

Even if the end of the garage truss had been installed up tight to the supporting element, the short angled nails are too short. In general, the hanger manufacturer specifies that the angled nails must be 10d or 16d nails.

The angled nails must distribute wind uplift force from the garage truss to the hanger.

Clearly, construction supervision and municipal inspection was grossly deficient.

As I noted in various postings on the Island Packet web site (and recently on this blog), initial connection problem discovered with valley trusses is very likely only the "tip of the iceberg" relative to the entire roof truss installation (design, construction & inspection). Discovery of new problems such as faulty hanger installation for garage trusses is not surprising.

The odds of finding even more serious problems are now increased.

PE, retired said...


The hangers support the main garage trusses (20 or so) that, in turn, support valley trusses that support the roof. These main garage trusses frame into a double truss header.

The garage valley trusses on top of the main garage trusses tie the main garage trusses together such that all 20 or so of the main garage trusses would have to come off together for the garage roof and trusses to be uplifted from the hangers. That being the case, tying 4 of the main garage trusses to the double truss header would stabilize all 20 or so main trusses.

I hope that this is clear.

PE, retired said...

It looks like from the link to your photo that the builders and government inspectors in No. Va. (my lifetime home until I moved to SC) aren't any better than the builders and government inspectors here. Maybe they ALL should be required to read "Home Building For Dummies". Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe some day folks will wake up, and this mess will get straightened out.