The Submittal Package: Truss Engineering

    In the world of building permits, manufactured roof-truss engineering exists in that grey area between designing a set of building plans and submitting those plans for approval and construction permitting. It is one of those last-minute pieces of documentation that all-too-often catches the private builder unawares at submittal time, causing unnecessary delays at the most critical time in the life of a construction project.

Metal-plated wood-truss design is a specialized form of required engineering in which all manufactured roof-truss components are engineered to meet each building’s site-specific loading conditions. Building plans are provided to the truss manufacturer where the truss designs are created using proprietary CAD/CAE software and tested for preliminary approval. These software-approved truss designs are then transmitted to the manufacturer’s engineering offices to be reviewed, stamped and transmitted back to the manufacturer and provided to the client, as well as their quoted price for the delivered truss package. Building officials require that this stamped truss engineering be provided with the building plans as a part of the plan submittal package. As this engineering is considered a part of the quoted truss package, the only fees involved with acquiring this documentation is the agreement to purchase the manufacturer’s roof-truss package at their quoted price.

The truss manufacturer’s designer needs a set of plans to work from in order to produce the required truss designs and engineering.  Unfortunately, it is a common practice that the truss manufacturer only receives these plans after they have been completed and delivered to the client, yet before they have been approved by local building officials. This can oftentimes create problems in approval as well as construction, particularly when dealing with online-catalog type “stock” building plans that were quite often originally designed with hand-framed roof systems where the foundation and walls were not designed to incorporate the loads imposed by a roof-truss system.

It is due to this disconnect within the design industry that current building codes now require this truss engineering be available for review with the building plans at the time of submittal. This allows them to identify any problems and/or inconsistencies between the truss engineering and the building plans and request design corrections prior to plan approval & construction.

Our approach to this dilemma has always been founded both in our long-standing relationships with regional truss manufacturers, as well as over 15 years as a designer and manufacturer of wood-truss roof systems. We are able to understand, as we design, what will be required of the truss designs and convey this information accurately to our providers before the plans are completed. By coordinating the manufacturer’s truss designs in conjunction with the design of our plans we are able to integrate those elements into our building’s design prior to completion of the plans.

This “Top-Down” method of building design creates a clear and identifiable load-path that can then be properly transferred down through the structure to its foundation. Proper truss design is critical to this end and it is understandable why current building codes reflect this method of building design. A safer, more structurally-sound building will be attained by the designer if this often-forgotten step is taken at a more appropriate stage of the design process.

As previously stated, there is no direct cost in acquiring this stamped engineering from any particular truss manufacturer/supplier other than purchasing their truss package at the time of construction. We provide this service in our designs at no cost either, as we feel it is integral to the quality of our plans as well as our business.  Time is money and we are always seeking ways to eliminate costly delays for our clients at all stages of construction, whether it be in the permitting & plan approval process or onsite where the clock ticks the loudest