Holes bored in roof trusses

Observed tiny holes bored in roof trusses for wiring passage. I had to peek under the catwalk board from the entry ladder to get this picture, sorry for the crumby quality. There are at least (5) ~3/8" holes drilled in what I can see. Although these don’t seem to substantially damage the integrity of the structure, my understanding of trusses is “DONT SCREW WITH TRUSSES!!!”

Am I correct to recommend a structural engineer to further review the trusses? or is that overkill for this instance?

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Overkill!! Your client may ask you to refund the $600 + charge for the SE inspection.


Thanks Tom. I mentioned it during the post inspection walk through that it doesn’t seem to be a large concern, but also that best practices recommend never cutting or boring through trusses.

Would you personally even note it on the report?

If so, what would your recommendation be?

If not, at what point does boring through trusses become an issue? I hate using my discretion about things like this, you know?

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Tom is correct. That is overkill…we live and learn, Michael. :smiley:


Thanks Larry. Definitely wont recommend an engineer. Here’s the comment I landed on, what do you think:

Roof trusses appear to have been drilled or altered to allow wiring passage. Current building standards recommend: “Truss members shall not be cut, notched, drilled, spliced or otherwise altered in any way without the approval of a registered design professional.” Although the holes that have been drilled are relatively very small, inspector is unable and unqualified to make any comment on the structural integrity of the trusses.

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Unless there are more and bigger problems, I probably wouldn’t even comment on that.


yea, Im very tempted to strike it altogether, but my understanding is that it is a deficiency that I’m legally required to note in the state of Texas. I’m more comfortable attempting to be diplomatic about it than I am with using my discretion to make a judgement call about the condition. My boss agrees, too.

edit: that quote was taken from the IRC, by the way.


Your not an SE. You do not inspect to code. The trusses were performing and will continue to do so. What is the consequence? None. In my opinion, I would either make a recommendation or move along.

Or, you could say, alterations must be approved by an engineer and you were not provided any documentation. Put it back on the seller.

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Thanks for that Brian.

This is commonly stated, but that seems to be a grey area. Texas regulation states:
The inspector shall report as deficient deficiencies in installed framing members
What are “deficiencies”? Well, I have to assume anything that doesn’t align with current code. If not, how would you define deficiencies?

well Im not qualified or required to comment on that.

Now, I do not operate in Texas, so you will probably know better than I do. But, this is what our SOP states.

I. The home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
II. The home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

1.2. A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

Good point, good point.

If I may play devils advocate, though… What if there was much bigger hole in the truss and there still wasn’t any deflection observed at that time? I feel like that would be a no brainer: call it out as wrong and in danger of failing. So from that perspective, me not writing up these holes is essentially making a call a structural engineer is only allowed to make. I would in effect be saying “ehhh, i took a look at the hole and decided: its fine!” I don’t want to make that call and I’m not qualified to.

Okay, so you are on the fence with this one. You have received a few opinions and are still uncomfortable.

My problem with your narrative is that it makes no judgement. You are confusing the client.
So, back to the basics.

Report what you see - holes drilled - no visible cracking, settlement or sagging
Defect - Trusses should not be altered without SE or design professional approval

Now what are you going to recommend?
I would recommend the seller provide approved designs or evaluation by an SE.

This may give you justification
drilling_of_trussed_rafters.pdf (106.0 KB)

Yea, that slightly bothers me too. My boss told me, although it’s good to try to, i’m not required to recommend anything. As with anything I call out, the owners are responsible for exercising their own prerogative and discretion thereafter.

edit: and to be fair, my judgment is that it is not in satisfactory condition.

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Well, I am not going to argue with your boss, but you knew enough to see the defect so you should now know a corrective action may be needed.

Not providing any guidance is more dangerous IMO because you have many other options. If the trusses fail, what did you do to transfer the responsibility to the customer?

Is the insulation above this “catwalk”?

The attic space was spray foam insulated.

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These double stacked truss bottom cords are like this on all the trusses?

Yea, I was actually considering adding “corrective action may be considered” as a diplomatic way of saying “strucural engineer review”.

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Good question. Maybe its just in this section of the attic. There is a second attic space that you walk into from the second floor. The attic space this is in is above the second floor by way of an attic ladder. Maybe the initial plan was to keep HVAC & water heater appliances up there? Furnace is in the walk in attic and tankless water heater is outside.

You’re not getting my point. Either call it out or don’t mention it. The customer will decide if they want to spend $600 on an SE. Your ambiguous statements are trouble makers.

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