Looking for affirmation of what I think I called out correctly

Inspecting new construction the other day, I saw something that made no sense to me, and made less sense the more I looked at it. Check out the photos.

These rafters were essentially bisected, and the ends toenailed to the single 2x8 to which the ends abutted. Why?

I can kinda see why the framer may have wished to provide additional support to the rafters (although I have seen much longer rafter runs that were unsupported and performing fine), but why on earth would someone cut entirely through the rafters this way?

One of the photos shows the small gap between the sheathing and the top of this mystery beam. Although the sheathing would be supported along the length of the beam, you are still left with rafters which should be supported by the top plate, a purlin, or a properly designed joist hanger.

I have never seen this before, so I recommended the client have a structural engineer take a look.

Is this proper or improper? If it is, I can’t imagine why, as it flies in the face of what I think I know about proper framing practice.

Thanks in advance for your responses.

Unless it was specified in the plans (I seriously doubt it) then it appears to be a poor attempt at using leftover wood to to construct rafter runs. Can’t tell from your picture but was the rafter cut full through, ending on one side, and resuming again on the next?

If they were attempting to use up lumber they may have been able to get away with lapping it over a purlin as you noted. Also in these pics the fastener schedule/placement is wrong.

BTW when I run into a suspect item I recommend the client have the builder display the plans to show it was called for (if plans were not available on site which most times they are not) and/or the builder’s PE to provide a review and approval letter. This helps the client save money on calling in a PE particularly if it is a one off issue.

Good advice Manny, thanks!

It is as you stated - rafters were essentially bisected, with maybe an inch of rafter resting on top of the beam. The nails are not visible in one of the rafters; it was toenailed on the reverse side.

When you say the fastener schedule/placement is wrong, I assume you are referring to the lack of a joist hanger, instead depending on toenailed 16-penny nails to bear the load. Would that be correct?

I’m used to framing for significant snow loads. To me, the “purlin” header looks inadequate even if you were to add hangers to support the upper sections of rafters. Definitely ask the seller to produce engineering proof that it is something more than a framing error that wouldn’t hold the weight of a roofer after a heavy lunch.

The AHJ may have a copy of the prints.

Like Manny, on new construction, I typically advise them to have the builder refer back to the plans to ensure that the as-built conforms to the engineered plans. When it’s atypical like this I usually advise the client to have the Builder’s engineer review and sign off on it in writing in order to put the onus back on the builder and not have the client stuck trying to find and pay for their own engineer.

In your pictures, the sloppy overcuts exacerbate the situation. I wouldn’t be concerned with the cross member not contacting the roof decking as it’s the rafters that are supposed to support the deckin.

It looks like two pieces where they basically notched the whole thing out at the end except that short piece resting on top of the horizontal member. That’s why I was thinking they were trying to improperly use scrap wood in that way to create a rafter.

I’ve seen this situation before with a decorative change in slope for a roof plane but it was with vertical support to a bearing wall below. Because of the duct strap and reflection from the radiant barrier decking it is hard to tell how that horizontal member ran and how the possible supports at the end are connected.

Re the fastener comment there is no specific fastener requirement for this atypical arrangement and I would expect hangers but the method of connection is expected to have been called out in the plans if it was a designed point. However I would of expected them to at least apply fasteners to both sides instead of one. This displays the typical connections to hip/valley rafters and ridges.

In any case I would call it out as atypical and dump it back on the builder to display it was engineered that way. If you get to find out what comes of it let us know.

Here you go. A daily affirmation.

I’m going to do a terrific inspection today and I’m going to help people.

Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me. :wink:

The only thing holding the rafters above the large 2x is the nails, if this was designed by an engineer it would likely have some additional mechanical connector (hanger).
From the top it looks worse it look like the rater is top loaded!

Thank you. That made me smile.

As trite as pop psychology often is, there are a few gems. One that I have latched on to is this:

“Expectations are resentments under construction”

I find that the less I expect of other people, the greater my personal peace.

The obverse of that is that the greater my expectations are of myself, the greater my success.

The builder is trying to duck the issue by saying that they adhere to Frisco building code, and that they (the builder) do not take action based on third-party opinions.

Per the advice offered by those here, I have recommended the client ask the builder to produce a rafter plan for that house and engineer’s letter if the framing deviates from that plan. I offered another approach which would be to take their concern to the AHJ, who the builder *has *to pay attention to.

I agree with Manny and Chuck. Affirmed.

Even with no snow load that “header” should be doubled up with hangers on the rafters.

Yep. Agreed.

A little anecdote. Over the years I, like others, have been telling clients if they have problems to take it to the AHJ. This AHJ never had a set procedure to handle buyer requests/complaints and just last year created one Homebuilder Complaint Policy | Frisco, TX - Official Website . Had a client try it after a pre-drywall inspection for issues that would be covered over quickly once insulation and drywall is applied/installed. As you know builders typically have those scheduled very quickly after they get the green tag from the AHJ and most times, unless they fail the AHJ inspection, they generally do not allow client inspections until the green tag is received. If you read over the procedure you can imagine how effective it is in protecting the builder and that is what appeared to have occurred with this client as the client described it to me.

Would you mind emailing the builder name and development name? That would be interesting to know. For the past couple of years the vast majority of my jobs have been in Frisco. escanlan@psinspection.com

I have worked with contractors for 40 years and the best advice I can give you is: Contractors are in business to make money. You control their money you get their attention. If they don’t comply with reasonable requests your client has the option to withhold payment. BUT, there is another part to this situation, the contract documents. The contract documents are composed of the contract, plans and specifications. These documents are typically spelled out in detail in commercial or government work, but residential work the contract is usually provided by the contractor written to benefit him not the homeowner. Plans, if any, are usually poorly drawn and lack the details necessary to adequately enforce the contract. In residential jobs specifications are virtually nonexistent. If your going to get in the new construction inspection business, do your clients a favor and insist they provide a well-written contract, sealed architectural plans and specifications to the contractor to bid on. If you ever worked on a commercial or government job these documents make all the difference when problems pop up during construction.


When I worked as a Realtor, the first time I read through a home builders contract I was stunned. I was used to the TREC contracts that sought to provide protection both parties in a balanced manner, and was confronted with a document that was all about the client’s responsibilities, with little to no accountability on the part of the builder. I would point this out to my clients, but there was not a lot to be done. If the client did not like the builder’s contract, the builder would just wait for the next client to come along.

That wasn’t designed by an architect. That’s a carpenter’s invention to make do for some reason, probably to make use of short rafter material.
Structurally inadequate, it works kind like a head out for a skylight, but to be correct it would have to be (at least) doubled and the ends would have to be adequately supported by doubled rafters or posts down to a bearing wall. as is… it’s a hinge.