Roof Framing? Fastback?

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Old 09-10-09, 06:42 PM
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Roof Framing? Fastback?

Due to time limitations, I've had to get a general contractor to inspect the attic on my former home to satisfy the relocation contractor.

I had expected the fellow to just pop his head into the attic and sign a piece of paper that he saw no issues, but instead, he's telling me that the roof framing is supporting the ceiling joists with (I believe he means) a bunch of 1xs that run between them, which aren't centered on the walls.

He says the code has changed and though it might've been proper when the house was built 57 years ago, it isn't code now and that he has to recommend running a "fastback" the length of the house at a cost of around $3k.

A google search of this and the architectural forum doesn't produce any results for "fastback". Therefore can anybody tell me if he's probably just trying to sell me something because I'm in a bind, if it'd ordinarily be required for a home inspection on a 57 year old house, or if $3000 sounds extraordinarily expensive for 65'x25' main house and a 12'x30' former garage?

I'm actually more than a thousand miles from my old house, so I could be misunderstanding what he means, but here's a photo of the attic, pre-added insulation, if it'll help with the interpretation.



Thanks in Advance
Any and all explanations would be appreciated.
---

ETA: The contractor couldn't fit into the attic access, so he's basing his inspection and his recommended remedy on what he could see from the access and after removing the vent at one end.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 07:53 PM
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I usually see a collar tie across the ridge, but that looks pretty normal to me. Admitted this is not my strong area, but we have become too used to seeing trusses crisscross our attics and sometimes forget the simple old triangle.

Also, I'm not familiar with his use of the term fastback. I have used it to describe a brace that would hold all of the rafters in the same plane. It sounds like he is asking for a kneewall and even at that, the $3,000 sounds a bit high. Of course if he doesn't fit through the access hole, he may be adding a bit for grease.

Let's see what some of the pros say about codes and new requirements.

Bud
 
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Old 09-10-09, 08:55 PM
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I now have his written report and in addition to upping his estimate by more than 50%, he says;

"Roof rafters were attached directly to ceiling rafters with 1"x4" struts and the wood struts must set on top of a wall or on top of a strong back or beam that sets directly on top of a wall or supported by posts on wall"
I really think that his inspection was hampered by the fact that he never actually entered the attic and the fact that he didn't seem to care, when I tried to explain to him over the phone which walls were concrete block and that some of the ceiling is completely new, so the framing was inspected and approved by the city.

I still don't understand exactly what he's talking about because in the photo, the 2'x12" ceiling joists cross over an interior wall and they overlap with the 2"x8"s, which also rests on that interior wall. The 1"x8" up and down pieces may or may not be over the wall, I can't really recall and there's now 8" of cellulose in the way, but the overlap of ceiling joists actually rests on the wall and I know that I checked that fact.


If anyone could help me understand what this fellow means, or that almost $5k would be the estimated price (without listing materials or labor) for what would essentially be about a 40' span, I'd appreciate it.

Note: My estimation of the span has now reduced down to 40' because in the photo, the roofline which comes down in the distance rests on concrete block and there's a concrete block divider between the former garage and the main house. This really only leaves about 40', with a total width of 25' at its widest spot or 12' 6" on either side of the center dividing wall.


Again, I kind of think the fellow is off because he didn't go into the attic and since he didn't provide a proper estimate, he obviously doesn't realize that I need something more exact. Therefore tomorrow, I'm going to have to get someone else in there. Someone who'll actually go into the attic and preferably a straight home inspector, who's not going to be motivated to sell me something else, but that'd be hard to get.

Again, if anyone can help me understand, I'd appreciate it, but in this case, I just don't think the guy wants the work.

Thanks
 
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Old 09-10-09, 08:55 PM
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When I read "fastback", the first thing I thought of is a strongback. I'm guessing that's what your guy probably meant.

from my carpentry book:



It's basically just 2x4 strapping across your ceiling joists. If you really want you can tie a second 2x4 on edge for extra strength. (this is actually a strongback by definition, a single board on the flat is known as a ribband)

I don't imagine how that could possibly cost $3,000, maybe this guy is talking about something else.

While your up there you might as well add in collar ties like bud mentioned. The knee wall that you can see in your picture helps to take any snow load on the roof, but for the amount of time it would take to put in a dozen collar ties you would be doing your roof some good. You don't have to put them on every rafter, just space them under 8', then tie them all together with a ribband/strongback/strapping.

Do both of those and you'll have a much stiffer roof system. You could replace your stucco ceilings with drywall and not have to worry about any screw popouts. Wouldn't that be great?
 
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Old 09-10-09, 09:04 PM
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Also not an inspector or one that is up on roof framing codes, but I don't believe that older homes must be brought up to each and every new standard that comes out. I also know that some "unscrupulous" inspectors will find and feed work to contractors on their "approved" list of buddies, or offer to do/oversee the work for you.

Either way, the roof looks normal to me... the vertical 1x's are probably just stiffeners and the only load they would carry would be any load that "may" occur if the rafter deflects, which it should not if it is sized properly and is not beyond its limited span. Getting rid of the vertical 1x stiffeners is one option, if that is what he objects to. They are obviously not structural because nailing a board onto the side of anything is not structural in any way.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 09:14 PM
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Rob - I appreciate the illustration and it does look like what he was describing on the phone. Obviously we were preparing our replies at the same time, so though your picture looks like what he said, I really don't see the connection to the position of the uprights or why it doesn't count for more that the ceiling joists are actually resting on a center wall.

Also after looking at your illustration, I really can't see how it could possibly cost almost $5k, except maybe because the fellow doesn't want the work.

Thanks


BTW: After reexamining my photo, I know that the vent pipe is about two inches from the center wall, so this also tells me that the uprights are about a foot from that wall. Though again, the joists do overlap over top the wall and I know this for a fact.
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XSleeper - The "problem" was that a home inspector was contracted by the relocation company, but he couldn't fit through the access. I then got a buddy to enlarge the access, but he laid some kind of specialty strip up there to keep from having to cut new sheetrock and when the home inspector came back, he didn't try to move the stick and just said that he still couldn't fit in the hole.

Because my time is running out and because the home inspector was balking at coming back for a third time, I just called a regular licensed contractor because that was suggested as an option.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 10:17 PM
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I took a look in my code book (Ontario code book, so there are probably differences) and from the looks of things, it's ok if your knee wall doesn't fall directly over the load bearing wall if there's blocking between the ceiling joists.

The purpose of those boards that are in question is to reduce the span of your roof rafters, particularly important if you have heavy snow in the winter.

There are a lot of other ways you can reduce your joist span, which is why I recommended the collar ties earlier.

 
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Old 09-11-09, 06:45 AM
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If he is up to $5,000, I could probably fly out to where ever this is, buy the materials, rent some tools, do the work, take a weeks vacation, and fly back and still make money. There should be a law against inspectors/contractors like that .

Sorry, just drives me wild.
Bud
 
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