Unconnected Ceiling Rafters

Hey Guys-

This was in a 60s home above the garage area. The ceiling joists over the garage area were only toe-nailed in at the base and at the transition from the house to the garage, it seemed to be pulling away a little bit. Structural issue worth noting and what would you say?


They look twisted to me. I’d refer it to a licensed contractor. I’d also say:

“Additions or alterations have been made to this property. Therefore, you should request documentation that should include permits and any warranties or guarantees that might be applicable, because we do not approve of, or tacitly endorse, any work that was completed without permits or by unlicensed contractors, and latent defects could exist.”

The wiring is another indication that the addition was likely built without a permit.

Kenny, I agree with Joe F, the joists should have a strong back to prevent twisting (2x6 on edge with 2x6 flat , L shaped, nailed from under and above). Also it doesn’t seem to have adequete roof bracing. I don’t know what the spans are, but from the pics it doesn’t appear to have any purlins, purlin braces, ridge bracing or collar ties.

Hip roofs are very strong, it looks like you have 2x6 rafters (not sure about the species) which typically can span around 12 ft. If you suspect there are structural issues (I take it you mean load bearing) then you should take pictures of the ridge / rafter connection to show any separation.


As Jeff mentioned, 2x6 rafters and joists can go awhile, but around here, there not gonna go much more than 8’ without blocking and definitely would have been blocked at support (wall) or header, we may have shear/pressure blocked at the plate connection. Joe F makes a good point that there is a few items there that indicate an unlikeliness of permitted construction. But you never know!

Wow, what a mess.
To me the garage was built a few years after the home, either in the late 60’s or early 70’s. That would explain why brick on the house and 12" Masonite siding on the garage.
You can’t see the brick inside the garage meaning they built a 2x4 wall to support the joist as you see in the attic and also where you can see the 2x8 that capped the brick veneer now hidden and the framing of the house wall. That was the plate for the original gable end.
You can also see the new valley rafter that intercepts the house rafters.
The 2x6 joist in the garage are running the wrong way and over spanned.
Improper headers provided on the two joist on each side of the access hatch.
The joist should have run parallel to the ridge where one could have hand built a truss with a bottom chord to shorten the span of the ceiling rafters.
In other words, the ridge, rafter, and ceiling bottom chord would have been a truss.
This was definitely done by amateurs and I would recommend repairs by a licensed qualified building contractor.
I am sure no permit was pulled on this one. The electrical is a giveaway as was mentioned earlier. :slight_smile:

Jeff, you talk about ridge rafter seperation, that’s what i was talking about collar ties missing, which of course ties opposite rafters together between the ridge.
Tim i’m sure you meant “not going to go awhile without blocking” was meant to say bracing . (bracing is not bocking).
Qoute from Tim- "Joe F makes a good point that there is a few items there that indicate an unlikeliness of permitted construction. But you never know!
*I don’t think *Joe F said that

Marcel, with all due respect, as you said " I don’t think a permit was pulled on this one". What’s that got to do with anything about inspecting the home? We all acknowledge this is a 60’s or 70’s house in this post. In my area in TX many homes were built outside city jurisdiction without permits (so?), but are now in the city limits, so now they still get inspected by independent inspectors. Who cares if it had a permit in 1960 when it was built, how does that make a difference with your current inspection,? Just curious. What does having or not having a permit 40 or 50 years ago, or even on a more recent remodeling have to do with an inspection at this time and date? It’s either right or wrong.


Not sure I follow you. How did you determine the joists are running the wrong direction? You said they should run parallel to the ridge. There may not be much of a ridge on a hip roof, and it looks like a hip to me. And given that there is a ridge, I see joists perpendicular to the ridge as the norm.

Please clarify. Trying to learn something here.

I didn’t understand the truss thing at all.

Joe, it is an old carpenter trick I learned many years ago.
When stick building a hip roof and the ceiling joist as in this picture are over spanned and need support, you create a truss girder using the ridge.

And I believe I might have mis-spoke on running the wrong way.
With the ridge girder truss, that cuts the span of the ceiling joist in half, because they are now attached to the bottom chord of the girder truss.
The common rafters directly at the end of the ridge are all or would be part of the girder truss.
Properly secured, it also helps prevent the walls from bowing or pushing out and act as a rafter tie.
Once the girder is in place, it provides the ability to add chords to support overspaned rafters if any, and another chord could come down from that point to pick up some of the load on the ceiling joist if required.
Wish I could find a picture, but I don’t think I will find one.

Hope this explains a little better, if not let me know. :):smiley:

Re: the joists running the wrong way… glad you said that Marcel, I wouldn’t have said anything :-). It’s so mish mosh anyway. But in the second pic I think the ridge appears to be perp to the joists.

Also, as the joists terminate on a different plate than do the rafters I thought that was an ugly way to do something… as you said, a mess.

Last and not least.

North East Lingo vs. West coast lingo. When you mentioned ridge girder truss, are you talking about a carrier or girder truss? (I’m hung up on the ridge girder is all) and I think we’re on the same page. Can you still stick frame those where you are Marcel? I can’t… at least I don’t think I can. Last time I checked I can not field fabricate webbing and such. It’s a scam anyway :slight_smile: My framing books all have basic designs that a beginning carpenter could fairly easily design a 30’ span 2 point truss.

If it’s different than that, maybe a Marcel hand drawn detail and scan is needed!

For here a girder or carrier would be 2 or 3 ply (wide) and shop made. But yes, handy to break spans.

Probably can’t stick build like that anymore here either Tim, but I was trying to explain how it would have been done in that era.
The girder truss would have incorporated the hip, the common rafter on each end and spaned the garage depth.
Then the ceiling joist would have been attached to the bottom chord of that girder support truss splitting the span in half. From that point of intersection of joist to bottom chord of the girder, you could add a truss chord back up to the common rafters perpendicular to the ridge and pick up some load.
This is not something most carpenters would know how to do today, since everything is trusses engineered.
They have taken all the fun out of stick building. :wink:

If I steel had my drafting tools, I would draw it up.

Back in 1972 I framed a stick built roof for a restaurant that was 12/12 pitch with a span of 40’ and was concave outside by 12" and convex on the inside with no ceiling. Had an 8’ flat top on the top of the roof and 16’ flat ceiling on the inside.
Was one of a kind with no engineers. I was 21 years old. It is now a Church. Still up too. :mrgreen:

Got it! Admittedly you had me lost trying to visualize it until i pictured it perpendicular to the ridge.

All the fun is gone… I had to think about how to do something that used to be second nature, I compound cut a barge rafter on a ladder/rake to intersect a level/plumb fascia…

“A little paint and caulk to make up for what a carpenter’s not” I think it’s how it used to go.

A little story about trusses… Why we as HI’s should keep our “peepers” open.

Trusses are OK… until you need to repair or modify. Just went thru something recently for a repair where someone drilled all the bottom cords for their BX cable install…

I tracked down the manu of the truss by the stamp on the web/hardware (with a little help of a local truss co). Out of bus. Since a repair should come from the truss engineer for those particular trusses, no other truss engineers wanted to touch it, at least the 3 I called. They all said “Call a SE Tim”. My SE wants to redesign/re-inforce the carrier as his name is last on the “books”, he didn’t like the configuration of the 20’x20’ section of trusses landing on an intersecting on the girder/carrier truss. The calcs for some of that are difficult to figure out… just figuring overturn can be tough for lil 'ol me.

Here’s what happened.

Had received a call from an old construction customer of mine who was getting ready to close escrow as he had received a pretty damn good inspection (looked like basic “word” report… a crud load of pics and well written) his report indicated “Bottom chords of trusses in garage have been modified and are structurally compromised, repairs needed as catastrophic failure is possible if not repaired” that was it… not much else needed I guess,but had been told by Agent and everyone else he asked that it was no big deal. A 1" hole smack dab in the center of a bottom chord aint a small deal.

Three and a half inches with a 1" hole centered is now only a 1.25" of contiguous surface. Oops.

If it was cut and stack it would be easier to fix. I’m sure the truss engineer would have had 2x4’s sandwiching the affected areas for some length based on where the hole was in the truss with 16d’s on some kooky pattern. I’ve done repairs like that - 16d’s on 3" staggers. “What’s left of the wood?”

Bank rec’d estimate… said “Nope” buyer backed out… He was mad at everyone who downplayed the inspectors findings. I reminded him: He hired the inspector, he didn’t follow someone’s advice that he paid money for.

The other side of the fence can be interesting after an inspection is done too.

Interesting post Tim.
In the land of WalGreen, they would use all trusses now for these hip roofs. Not enough craftsmen left that know how to build them. :slight_smile: