Tedious (And Sometimes Insane) Design: Attic Bonus Rooms

Tedious (And Sometimes Insane) Design: Attic Bonus Rooms

Truss designing can be a relatively tedious job, day-in and day-out designing buildings that may just seem to have the same conditions from job-to-job. Surely, house designs can and do differ, but at the end of the day, a hip roof is a hip roof; a gable is a gable; a coffered ceiling is a coffered ceiling. Rarely, an architect comes up with some off-the-wall idea to tier a tray and then coffer ceiling, or a vaulted ceiling with a coffer. This does not mean that architects do not constantly push the physical limitation boundaries of wood plated trusses with a wild promised dream to a client; it just means they are not reinventing the wheel.

Most commonly, I have noticed on several of the high-end homes I designed trusses on, lean towards a higher ceiling and then the builder framing down coffers below the plate height. From an efficiency point, nothing beats having trusses with all flat bottoms. I am thinking the same thing right now, “Can I have some cake with that,” and “where does the physical limitation boundary pushing come from with a flat bottom chord?”

A personal favorite of mine, the bonus room truss. Something that seems so harmless, but can cause such a headache!

Is the pitch steep enough that we can achieve a desirable head height?


(Bonus room with a 12/12 pitch, too tall to ship without a piggyback, but still too tall to piggyback above the collar tie. Instead, we split the truss into two and tail bear the upper on the room walls.)

Is there enough width to provide a cozy room size?


(Maybe not the largest room, but for a 50’+ truss, with a coffer and bonus room, it looks cool!)

Is there a dormer or a deck coming out of the bonus room?


(We have a cantilever deck, coming out of the bonus room. 44’ Main span, split into 3 spans plus piggybacks to accomplish this goal.)

Do they need an elevator recess built in?


Just some of the questions I am sure the architect thinks of while talking with the client. Nevertheless, some questions the architect may not consider, truss-shipping height, tying in that cantilevered deck, or span-to-depth ratio. When designing a house with a bonus room or multiple bonus rooms, tedious task goes out the window and it becomes a “truss-design” obsession that sometimes requires a couple of Excedrin to finish the endeavor.

What types of things have you seen with bonus rooms?

Neil Laporte – Project Manager

Gould Design, Inc.