Roof framing on a new-constuction hip roof

Recently, I conducted a home inspection on a home built in 2019, with the most curious (and seemingly incorrect) flat framing I had ever seen. There was notable deflection while walking the upper portion of the roof, and upon getting inside the attic, I determined why.
There were engineered trusses for the lower portion of the attic, but the upper-most portion was “stick-built” scab joints. This cannot be correct, can it?
The Local Permits and Zoning office did verify that the builder had changed the plans without approval. The Building Inspector mentioned that there was supposed to be a room where the empty attic space was, as well as a dormer built into the roof–hence why I believe the lower trusses appear correct, while the upper portion is scabbed.
This builder is well known in the area, and after a meeting with the prominent city official yesterday, he said that he knew the builders well, and would reach out to them to come back out to the property to inspect it. I expect a “stonewall” of some sort, but I am trying to remain cautiously optimistic.
Please have a look at this roof framing, and for those of you who may know, I would love to hear your insights. I even had a roofer come out to evaluate the framing, and he told me that in the tens of thousands of roofs he has installed, he has never seen anything like this. I am a building contractor by trade and have never seen (or built) anything like this either.

Not enough from those little pictures to determine what is going on.
One picture looks like a mis-located truncated truss so the 2x4’s are not on top of the trusses, but haphazardly nailed inbetween.
Too hard for me to tell.

1 Like

Agreed, do you have any shots from further back?

possible a fix for missing H-clips. I have suggested a builder do this on a brand new build. where they used 7/16 osb with rafters at 24" OC and there were missing H-clips all over. walking on the roof it was very bouncy. so instead of tearing off the new roof and sheeting, just in stall 2x4 blocking at the OSB seams between the rafters.

1 Like

What is the distance between those trusses in the first pic? It doesn’t seem to be more than 24"
I’ve seen framing like that in the last pic, as long as the flat 2x4s are not more than 24" span, I wouldn’t be concerned, but like others have said, pics are hard to tell from

The best thing in these scenarios is to cite the performance problems (which it sounds like you did) - softness/deflection when walking, noticeable sagging, etc. Getting caught up with “odd” framing is a deep and long rabbit hole. I agree it looks crazy but engineers stamp all kinds of crazy things every day. As inspectors we aren’t being paid to redesign the house… only to tell them if it’s working or not. Tell them why it’s not working and move on. Stonewalls and other bureaucracy aren’t our problem unless we make it so.


I agree it is difficult to tell without a farther away shot for context. However one very important questions is how did the AHJ miss this on their supposed permit inspections during the build?

1 Like

Welcome to our forum, James!..enjoy participating. :smiley:

1 Like

I do not, unfortunately.

That is the million dollar question.
This is a very expensive home in a very nice neighborhood, and I cannot even speculate without sounding like I am casting aspersions.

I thank you all for your responses. This is a rare circumstance, as it is my business partner’s neighbor, which makes it more personal for him. The owner did not get a home inspection at time of purchase, believing (as most people do) that if the house is new and has just been approved by the jurisdiction, that it must be perfect.

Fundamentally, flat-framing should never meet with approval for structural load capacities, as we all know the strength of a board is simply not there. I have advised the client of our recommendation to consult with an engineer. Hopefully it will not be prohibitively expensive, and my guess is that with some additional bracing/frame augmentation, the current framing will hold up.

Framing is roughly 24" OC

I agree. The flat framing section basically only has point loads at the intersections over the trusses. As long as those trusses are 24" oc, then adding 2x4 spacers between the plywood and truss should solve any bounce. I would not consider it a “structural” issue beyond the bouncy plywood. The sheathing is still sufficiently attached.


They generally don’t have their asses on the line like we do. It’s amazing how much more you find when you’ll literally starve if you don’t. Also, at least in my area, AHJ inspectors don’t get on ladders or go in crawl spaces so there’s a lot of things they just don’t catch. IMO, the whole permit process is one of the most over-hyped things in real estate. It’s kind of like everything else in society/government. It’s a terrible system but it all we have.

1 Like

Agreed! My question was more rhetorical than anything. Most of my business (90%+) is new construction from ground breaking to one year warranty inspections. In our area many municipalities have inspection results online and it is amazing how many significant issues they pass. Of course many AHJ’s here rely heavily on the Builder’s Third Party Inspection results.

1 Like

Many funny responses, again.

I would start by asking for the roof truss manufacturer’s plans and specifications. They show the required bracing locations and sometimes how they should be installed.

Changing the plans is a potential problem, as any modifications to the original engineered plans must be engineered. With how stupidly complicated the modern house is engineered to meet modern design loads, you don’t want to mess around.

Deflection when walking on 7/16 inch OSB roof sheathing supported by 24 inch on center trusses? Well, I’m not sure what you were expecting. If you look at the APA rating stamp on the 7/16 OSB sheathing, you’d likely see the 24/16 span rating(I guess you can’t actually see it due to the radiant barrier on the LP tech shield, but tech shield starts at 7/16 inch thickness minimum anyway so it still works out), which tells you maximum 24 inch oc supports for the roof application and 16 inch oc supports needed for floor application. If you are walking on 7/16 inch sheathing, you are in the realm of floor loading. The deflection wouldn’t cut it for a floor assembly obviously. Not only that, the span rating is for uniform loading. If you stand between two trusses at 24 inch oc, you are clearly a point load, so it’s going to feel like the deflection is even worse. Now, if there is some specific area of the roof that deflects more than the rest of the roof comparably, it might be damaged sheathing, trusses set more than 24 inches apart, bowed truss top chords, or other issues.

I hate to break it to you, but from your pictures alone, I don’t actually see anything particularly wrong with the framing.

The flat 2x4s are called hip cats and do actually serve a very important purpose. Here is my interpretation for how it works:

On normal roof trusses, the sheathing is spanning between the flat top surface of the top chords of the roof trusses. You nail the sheathing to that 1-1/2 inch wide surface. Easy peezy right? WRONG, it’s actually not easy. Today’s wood sucks ass. There are lots of knots, bows/twists, wood that just explodes when you nail into it and so on. Couple that with your minimum wage laborer on a tract build and lots of those nails are going to miss or be ineffective. you get the point.

Think about what happens on a hip section of the roof with roof trusses. The roof sheathing is flat to the corners of the trusses’ top chords. That 1-1/2 inch wide nailing surface you had with the normal trusses just became a fucking line. If you don’t hit the nail perfectly, you are going to hit air and get reduced nail penetration into the garbage wood as explained previously, which will render the nail ineffective. Here is where the hip cats come in. The hip cats provide a flat 3.5 inch wide nailing surface, which you can’t possibly miss. Also, the hip cats basically improve the amount of bearing/bearing area the roof sheathing have on the hip trusses.

With just the sheathing nailed to the hip cats, even if you didn’t put any nails between the sheathing and the actual hip trusses, the sheathing wouldn’t slide off normally(obviously not counting wind/seismic loading) as the hip cats grip onto the top chords of the hip trusses.

Bottom Line: Hip cats are a structural part of hip truss roof framing. If you don’t have them, oh boy you better hope whoever sheathed that hip section of the roof was a marksman with that nail gun, wasn’t high off his ass, and the wood was in good shape.

Here is some reading for you:

1 Like

“Also, at least in my area, AHJ inspectors don’t get on ladders or go in crawl spaces so there’s a lot of things they just don’t catch. IMO, the whole permit process is one of the most over-hyped things in real estate. It’s kind of like everything else in society/government. It’s a terrible system but it all we have.”

Spot on. Precisely the same acenario in my area.

1 Like

Excellent, and thank you for sharing that. So, they are “hip cats”, eh?
This is why I say the best, non-custom built homes in the US were constructed before 1967. Physics is physics, and quality lumber is no more. We don’t build homes to last, anymore; we build them to sell.
Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
Much obliged.

So, it wasn’t the AHJ inspector’s fault after all? I don’t get it?