Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Raise the Roof

Trusses are great - they enable us to put a roof (or floor) over long spans so we can have large, open rooms, like this family space with a fireplace, TV, and billiards table.

The truss in the existing room, however, was oppressively low. This playroom was placed a couple steps down from the rest of the main floor level of the house, and to walk from the kitchen into the playroom, the bottom chord (horizontal member in b4 pic) actually encroached into the code-required head room. (Code requires 6'-8" vertical space- the height of all standard doors).

In addition to the code violation, it just felt yucky. Here you were, in a large space, with a not-flat high ceiling, but with those thick, dark beams cutting across the space at the top of the wall, you didn't get the benefit of that tall space- you felt squashed from above.
Old Truss Configuration w/ heavy, low bottom chord
Without changing the roof outside or ceiling inside, we modified the truss to raise the interior volume. Don't try this at home! A structural engineer was consulted and angled metal plates with specific bolting patterns were specified to ensure the roof loads were being carried. The low horizontal chord was removed (and some that wood re-used). New angled bottom chords and a high collar tie (the reused timbers) were secured to the existing top chords that follow the ceiling line.

New Truss Configuration
The result is a room that feels much different. We joked it seemed like a pizza parlor before. Now the feel is much more lofty. We also changed the small, high-silled windows to beautiful low-silled 9 over 9 paned windows with a classic molding profile; they let in lots of light and are much more appropriate from the exterior for this historic home. Removing the dark wood wainscot also contributes to this room's transformation. And installation of a new split system for heat and air conditioning means the unsightly baseboard radiator could be removed, allowing for cleaner wall to floor transition.

New windows (same door to kitchen on far left of both pics)

Before- Yucky windows - no light or view!

Take away: space is about more than just space.

New Room - trusses painted

Newly renovated, more classic exterior

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