Crazy and Complicated Truss Designs

Crazy and Complicated Truss Designs

The complexity level with each architectural plan has evolved 10 fold since the introduction of roof trusses. Today, they have become the norm for roof framing. Early on, a vaulted scissor truss was considered unique. Then came the coffer/tray, the attic truss and now today we have the vaulted scissor truss with a coffer and an attic room all in the same truss!

As a remote truss designer, I have designed building components using plans from all over North America, including Canadian plans. The one thing I have learned and that remains a constant is that the demand for crazy, tricky, complicated trusses is growing. When I first started designing trusses, I had this vision that trusses were not so complicated, as it were. Boy was I wrong. My idea of trusses went from a basic fink truss, to a piggy backed mono attic truss that has a coffer in the bottom chord. This complexity at first was a big shocker to me. In the state I am from, Colorado, the design set up and snow loads make for a very hard time to get these more difficult designs to work.

In my time of performing as a remote designer with Gould Design, Inc., I have come across even more outrageous truss designs. Now I don’t say that with distain, I say that with excitement. Its stuff like this that makes me proud to do what I do. To know that I just created a whole new level to a house in the trusses no matter what is going on in the ceilings is kind of cool. Being able to design for places such as Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia (just to name a few); all of whom have lower snow loads and what appears to me as lower design set up allows us to fully max out what you can do with trusses. In the following I will show you examples of things we as designers can come up with. Below are some designs are what I like to think of as extremely crazy & unique.

Capped mono attics with a coffer. This one isn’t too extreme, but still not your typical run of the mill truss.


This one on the other hand, you have raised ceiling with a coffer, then a catwalk, plus another raised ceiling. All in the same truss! This however isn’t the tip of the iceberg.


These two trusses aren’t your average attics. These fun little guys are tail bearing on both ends with the attic. Not to mention they span over 40’. Granted they have internal bearing, they are still not easy to work on.



This truss has an attic, raised ceiling and 2 coffers.


This truss was quite the “doozie”, in this truss you have a 12’ wide attic with the pull down stair access cut out located right next to it.


These are just a few or dozens of examples I could show you of trusses that are more complex than I have ever seen before I was began with GDI. I am sure there are tons of more “creative” designs out there, as I have seen them from my fellow design team members.

I would now like to show you what we can do to a full house design within the trusses. Some of these I wouldn’t mind doing to my house if I ever build one someday.

This house has an attic space that connects the entire house, one end to the other. What’s even better is that it can be accessed from the garage or 2nd floor! Designing this one in Sapphire made this design smooth and easily workable. The 3D capability is just awesome.


On this house, we have an attic on the top end that runs the full length of the house. On the other side we have and attic and coffer combined. Talk about pulling your hair out!



This cut section shows what the trusses look like that have the attic with the coffer built in. The one below is similar except that the attic runs the entire length of the house.


This was one of my favorites; this section shows virtually everything you can possibly imagine doing to a ceiling in one truss. Tail bearing, coffer, raised ceiling, attics. This house has it all.


My hope with this piece is to show exactly what we, as truss designers are capable of. Being with GDI has taken my skill set as a designer to a whole new level. Not only that, but it has opened my eyes to what we can do with trusses. Which is why, if I have learned something, I know you can too. So the next time you think something needs to be stick framed or can’t be done let us take a look and see what we can do.

Zach Failing – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.