DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   Roofing/Siding (
-   -   Anyone know anything about roof framing sitting on wood? (

aj123 02-03-2013 07:07 PM

Anyone know anything about roof framing sitting on wood?
I am considering buying a 300 year old house. We had a structural engineer out to look at some things. In the attic he noticed that the rafters were held up on one side by long pieces of wood, and below that was small pieces of wood holding it above the wall framing. It seems like none of it is nailed down or attached because all of these pieces of wood holding up the rafters were moveable.

Anyone know why this would have been done? We have some circumstantial evidence it may have been that way since the 1960s.

Anyone know how big of a concern this is?

Anyone know what type of contractor I could get out to investigate this?


joecaption 02-03-2013 07:11 PM

Without a pictute how would anyone know what it is?
You had an on site engineer and he did not know what it was?
What kind of engineer was he?
He does not drive trains does he?

aj123 02-03-2013 07:23 PM

He's been doing this for 50 years and said he's never seen this before.

I will try to post a picture. I have to get approval first.

sixeightten 02-03-2013 07:30 PM

I agree, we need pics. But, if it has been up for 300 years, sounds like someone did something right.

Daniel Holzman 02-03-2013 07:31 PM

After you post some pictures, perhaps someone can assist you in understanding the framing. In a 300 year old house, which has undoubtedly been repaired numerous times, it may be difficult or impossible to understand "why" unusual framing is the way it is. I have seen numerous bizarre framing, wiring, plumbing, and HVAC systems installed. Often the "reason" is that the installer was utterly clueless due to lack of training, or they had developed their own unusual methods through years of "experience".

Regardless of the reason for the specific installation, you presumably paid your engineer to prepare a report on the condition of the house, and recommend needed repairs. Or was the engineer a friend who did the inspection at no cost? Assuming you had a contract with the engineer, you may want to review the contract to see if they owed you recommendations for needed repairs. If not, you may want to either write him another contract to recommend repairs, or hire another engineer to do so.

jagans 02-03-2013 07:31 PM

It does not matter if he has seen it before. If he is really a Structural enginner, he can do the math. If he can't, he ain't. Where are the pictures?

aj123 02-03-2013 07:34 PM

The real problem is you can't really see whats going on underneath because there are floor boards and blown in insulation. The engineer said they would have to do some demolition to find out what's really going on underneath, and I don't think the owner will agree to that. I was just hoping someone online had seen something similar.

I will post pictures tomorrow if I can.

joecaption 02-03-2013 07:53 PM

Take a look at these pictures and see if you find one like it.

Just a guess but one thing it could be is the ridge beam or part of the roof was sagging and someone tryed to prop it back up.

Help me out you framers what's another real name for a hogs trouth when it's in an attic like that.
I also tryed to spell what sounds like a perlin and could not find it.

jagans 02-03-2013 08:22 PM

If its really 300 years old, it could be anything. Destructive evaluation is the only way to go. I would be very concerned regarding iron nails at this age.

joecaption 02-03-2013 08:39 PM

Never understood how those old cut nails could hold so good.
On a taper like that you would think they would just pull right out, not.
I've seen them used in trim with no splitting, how can a wedge not split the wood?

BigJim 02-03-2013 09:56 PM

The old homes didn't depend on the old iron nails for holding power. The old homes were build where the framing members actually held the house together. For example, the ceiling joists ran from front wall to back wall and were notched out to fit snugly over the top plate or beam. This would hold the walls out, and also keep them from spreading.

Back then the rafters set right on top of the ceiling joists, the ceiling joist ran out past the top plate/beam and formed the bottom part of the cornice, the fascia nailed right on the ends of the ceiling joists.

If there were places that needed holding power the pieces were mortise and tenon with a wooden dowel or peg drove through to hold.

Joe was that a king post?

joecaption 02-04-2013 12:30 AM

Nope, what it looks like is three 2 X 4's nailed into the shape of a U. It's used to try and keep the ceiling joist from sagging or spreading.

jagans 02-04-2013 07:47 AM

Yes I know Post and Beam. and pinned Mortise and tennon. It really depends on whether the age is correct, and what Harry had in the hamper back then.

BigJim 02-04-2013 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1109081)
Nope, what it looks like is three 2 X 4's nailed into the shape of a U. It's used to try and keep the ceiling joist from sagging or spreading.

Joe I just called that stiff backs or hog troughs.

jagans 02-04-2013 09:21 AM

Do you guys see pictures from the OP? What are you talking about? We called an L made of 2 x a strong back. A Hogs trough? Just goes to show you. Do y'all keep hogs in the attic? :thumbup: Good way to continually increase your insulation, I guess.

Joe, I dont think they are cut nails that old. Probably hand forged nails like in Williamsburg.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:59 AM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1