What I'm Seeing Now


Completely Remodeled - We All Sag With Age - (#3 of 3)

In this last post of the "remodeled house" that proved so interesting, when I pulled up to the house I noticed that the roof was sagging in many places.  Not just sagging, but BADLY.

It is common for an older house to have a couple of roof sags here and there.  This house was 55 years old.  I can tell you that some things do in fact sag at 55.  But that is perhaps fodder for another post...

I pointed the sagging out to my buyer during the exterior inspection, promising that we would investigate further from inside the attic.

We did.  Here is what we found.  This house had 48 trusses similar to the ones you see here.  Of those 21 had been broken or cracked similar to this photo.  This attic was used extensively to store things.

This roof was "stick built."  You can see that the trusses were individually cut and put together.  But not like they do it now - trusses are pre-fabricated with metal plate connectors.  This roof was done with smaller 1x3 wooden connectors simply nailing each piece one to the other.  This is very weak, especially over time.

If you pile enough weight onto those angled members, they can separate.  You can see that these connectors pictured here simply broke in two.  And there was a lot of separation in this attic! 

Looking carefully you can actually see that the upper, larger rafters have sagged.

Imagine the amount of sagging that can occur with nearly 50% of the roof supports broken like this!  This was a badly sagging roof!

My recommendation:  do not use an attic for storage.  If you do, create shelving that is up on the rafters but that cannot hold much weight.  Roof supports are made to support upwards, and can do a great job of that if left alone!

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 11 commentsJay Markanich • July 11 2009 05:47AM


This is a scary post. I have seen homes where they store a lot of things in attics.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 11 years ago

Gita - two obvious things can happen - the insulation can get crushed and the structure can get compromised.  Either event is not good!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

I never, absolutely never sell a home without warning my home buyers that attics are not meant for storage but for ventilation. 

It's often a hard lesson for folks to learn. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

A roof...storage...gee in the sunny midwest that is what folks have basements for...and you collect with regret....sooo much stuff ! Maybe you should consider a tag line about being the plastic surgeon of home inspection...hmmm ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 11 years ago

Wish we had basements here, but in Florida, well it is rare, so we have alot of folks with the attic stuffed to the gills or garages that have never seen a car! Thanks for the information and will definitely pass it on!


Posted by Dick and Dixie Sells, Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale (Sells Real Estate, LLC) over 11 years ago

I see attics on a daily basis. Love your post

Posted by Eric Villaverde (DoubleTree Home Inspection Services L.L.C.) over 11 years ago

Jay, it looks to me like someone had no clue as to how to construct field-built trusses.  They can be just as strong as factory built but the plates can't look like that:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 11 years ago

That is just plain ugly. Man what a mess. You must've spent alot of time writing that report.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 11 years ago


I try to wear clothing that minimizes the sag. Perhaps the house should be clothed as well.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Lenn - that is true.  Attics do not make good sheds.

S&D - this particular house was a ranch, no basement.  Plastic surgeon of home inspections??  Can you hear the receptionist?  "Thank you for calling Plastic Surgery Home Inspections.  What can we firm up today?"

Dick and Dixie - they are all stuffed here too!

Eric - well, we see a lot don't we!

Charlie - they were nailed together.  1954 vintage homes are usually very sound.  Old, dry wood and weight don't mix.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

James - ugly report too!  This whole house was a mess.  I had another one today, same old, same old...

Steve - I bet a house dressed in James Hardie siding doesn't sag much.  I wonder if James Hardie has a clothing line?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

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