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Trussway Asks: Do Trusses Really Matter?

I get asked all the time…what does it mean to have a well-built truss? Or, what’s the big deal if it’s off a little? After all, that’s what caulk is for, right? Not really. I’m oversimplifying a bit to make a point that when it comes to trusses, you have little-to-no room for error and doing it right the first time can make all the difference.

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In my last edition of Rough Openings, we covered the basics of why a well-built truss is critical to the success of a project. If a truss isn’t designed well, then you could have performance issues or no room for the vital mechanicals—plumbing, HVAC, etc. That’ll be a big problem when you get to the job site. Dimension incorrectly and the trusses don’t fit. Use cheaper grade lumber and smaller plates and trusses can break during handling. All this can add up to project delays and warranty issues. Delays and issues cost money. Delays mean tenants can’t move in, so there is no revenue being generated. Warranty issues mean tenants are at best, inconvenienced, and at worst, displaced while repairs are made, leading to lower tenant retention.

Let’s notch this up a bit. Ever lived somewhere and experienced noisy neighbors? You can hear them through the floor or hear the dreaded creaky floors as you walk? It can be really annoying. I even know folks who have moved to get away from the noise. Maybe the issue isn’t the neighbors. Maybe it’s the build. More specifically, the trusses. If the trusses aren’t designed for the appropriate conditions, excessive deflections can occur, leading to sagging, creaking, and bouncing floors, and a whole bunch of noise.

Now, you ask… are creaky floors and noise really that big a deal? The answer is yes! Noise translates into an uncomfortable living environment as do drafty windows and doors, poor air conditioning or heating, and leaky roofs. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not happy. And, you’ll go to what makes you happy.

Noise can translate into unhappy tenants who move out, leaving you with empty units to fill. And, we all know it’s a lot more expensive to market and fill an empty unit than to keep an existing tenant in place. I recently was in an apartment complex in Houston where they had signs in the elevator offering a $1000 incentive for new tenant referrals. That’s quite a costly recruitment effort!

I think this whole concept of occupant comfort gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to designing and building. We often think in terms of meeting construction deadlines, etc. But, do we ever stop to think how what we do affects the end user?

It is important for truss manufacturers to embrace this concept: a comfortable tenant is a happy, rent-paying tenant. With that said, rents keep coming in, helping builder/owners keep a healthy bottom line. Trusses DO matter and are critical to this. We must accept the responsibility that trusses are a key component to occupant comfort, which directly impacts the bottom line. If we don’t make a product that helps our customers accomplish this, then they’ll be looking for a new supplier.

So, yes, Trusses matter!

Next time, we talk about designing for the appropriate conditions. The reality vs. myth of what floor trusses can realistically handle.


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