What I'm Seeing Now


Cracked Roof Truss

Some roof designs are designed for heavy loads, not only because of the style of the roof, but its size.  One thing you don't want to see is a cracked roof truss.

This is a hip roof, with two large gable penetrations.  This creates a lot of valleys on the roof.  So many valleys sets up a design for long supports.

The long truss in the center of the photo to the right is one of four in the house.

It holds a lot of weight.  There are roof sections from both sides tied into it, with collar ties everywhere (the horizontal members) that help stabilize the sections and keep the roof from lifting upward with heat.

Because these long trusses carry so much load, where they anchor to the house structural support is very important.

Surprisingly this truss rests on a corner.

They notched out the end so it fitted around the corner at a lower point and would align with the level of the roof sheath and other rafters.

But less than half of the truss actually rested on the support!

It cracked!  This arrangement was too little support!

Looking into the crack, this did not happen yesterday.  The house is 14 years old and I am thinking it happened not long after construction!

Emailing all this info to a structural engineer friend, he said it needs to be addressed, but it has been there a while so shoring up is probably all that can be done at this point.


The owner has been there from day one.  The new owner would like to feel comfortable.

And my job is done.

There were some fun emails last night between the buyer (retired fighter pilot) and engineer (rugby coach) because the buyer went to Clemson and the engineer to VA Tech.  They had some fun together last night, including me in on their antics.


My recommendation:  this house design created a large attic space where everything was easily visible.  Some attics aren't so accommodating.  When it isn't dangerous or too difficult, the attic needs to be investigated as completely as possible to see what can be seen.  And take a good flashlight with you...



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 37 commentsJay Markanich • May 04 2012 03:51AM


Thankfully, you brought in someone who can give suggestions for the solution to the cracked truss. I am sure that gave the buyer some peace of mind when addressing the issue with the seller.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 7 years ago

Morning Jay

And that is why each home should have an inspection done before the sale is finalized.  I have had only two people decline the inspection and you best believe I had it well documented

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

needs to be investigated???????

What about "needs to be repaired"?????

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Kathryn - I did that right away.  Some care needs to be taken when doing this because I don't want it to appear that I am involved in anything beyond suggesting further evaluation.  No collusion!

James - and why not!?  Heck, they are buying a very expensive thing!  Inspections are cheap, by comparison.

First things first Lenn!  This was late yesterday (in Waterford) and the engineer didn't see the photos until 830 last night!  Yes, the repair step is in process now too.  I have been included on a half dozen emails already this morning, and really my job is done!  But I want to be included.  I would love to see how this shakes out.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Good find. There are a lot of "cracked and sub-par" trusses out there, it's our job to find each and everyone of them.

Have a great day in Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

Thanks Clint.  For sure.  I had one last month that I think was cracked by the HVAC guys when they put a new system in an attic.  They didn't bother to tell anyone that it had cracked, or that the sinking roof might be the result of their work!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good thing they had an inspector who is not afraid of crawling around in an attic, good job Jay.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

I have come across this issue before. I hand it out to a general contractor licensed and bonded to do the work.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 7 years ago

That's a pretty big attic David!  But still, you do have to peep into the cracks and corners.

Harry - that's where it is likely to go from the engineer!   They are keeping me posted.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

First of all go VT.  Okay that's out of the way and another reason whey a home inspection and good home inspector are critical for home buyers. A cracked roof truss is nothing to sneeze at and even though it's gone 14 years without a problem doesn't mean it doesn't need to be fixed. 

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 7 years ago

Ouch!  That's a nice crack there, Jay.  Fortunately, I don't much crawling around attics anymore, but I've seen my share of damage like that when I did.  Unsuspecting home owners have no idea.  The advent of the home inspector has been a good thing for sure!

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing this situation.  We always recommend a professional home inspection.

Have a great day and an outstanding weekend!

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 7 years ago

I recently sold a property, with a detached roof, in much worse condition.

Good post and pics.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) over 7 years ago

Ouch....makes you want to crawl into the attic with a flood light "just to be sure"...our hips are not in need of replacement !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

Great explanation on what's important and why.

Jay we Truss.

Posted by Darrin Carey, Real Estate Buyer (Homes and More, Inc) over 7 years ago

Yikes. Here in Colorado we get up to 400 inches of snow. So loads on the roof are a big deal here.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

When I was building apartment buildings for the first time with tow seasoned partners, The trusses where one of the most expensive items on the cost breakdown for the project. I call the truss company and tried to whittle them down, they laughed saying this is what will hold the whole thing together and it costs what it costs...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Jay, that would have been discovered years ago if the home was up here where the weight loads from the snow can really put the strain on the roof structure. Shortcuts can get expensive

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 7 years ago

Jay, another heavy snow like we had a couple of years ago and the roof could collapse. Let us know what the engineer comes up with and the fix.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Jay  It is so easy to do it "right".  I don't undertand why it passed inspection at construction

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

That is a crack that needs repair...I don't know why "crack" has my mind wandering off in other directions as to how this occurred...

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Jay, thanks for the detailed description and photos. I guess this house looks pretty impressive from the outside with all the all the peaks and valleys? Yet from a durability and maintenance perspective it may be a bit more to maintain?

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) over 7 years ago

"Notched" and "support member" just make me cringe wihen they are describing the same thing...

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 7 years ago

Jay,This makes me think that if I ever build another house, I want you or somebody like you looking at it every week.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 7 years ago


Wow!  I hope to never see a roof like this one.  And it is good thing they used a good inspector.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 7 years ago

Most homeowners would NEVER notice this . . . . .  until its way too late!! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) over 7 years ago

Jay -- it is interesting to see the various ways contractors/subcontractors can find to create problems after they have left the site.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

This would alarm me personally, Jay, regardless of how long I thought it had been there... but most issues can be addressed, and finding these issues is why a professional home inspection is so important.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

I agree Cindy.  Not sure there has been no problem, and it seems to me, that with two cracks, this is ongoing.  Oh, I'm a UVA guy...

Mike - I did my first inspection in 1981 before most people had ever heard of one!  I'm not sure how much of an inspection it was, but I thought it was pretty complete!

Thank you Roy.  That flower looks tropical!  Thank you very much for the reblog!

That's serious Anthony!  Outside of this problem this roof was good.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

C'mon down, S&D!  And bring that flood!  You can crawl with me anytime I am in an attic.

Thank you Darrin.  I found a little less truss in this house!

Charlie - we had a super winter two years ago and I have wondered if that second crack did not show up then.

Richie - you can't skimp on the old family recipe!  They notched this one to boot.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

That's probably true Ed.  Roofs need to be OVER engineered, for reasons such as that one!

Mike - it's hard to left that up.  If I am reading right, he is recommending a metal plate to forestall any future cracking.

Karen - hard to know when this happened, but the County would have to LOOK to see it and pass it!

Lisa - is that kind of like why a duck doesn't fly upside down?  He would quack up...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Adrian - your perspective is correct.  It is impressive and all those angles lend need for many gutters and downspouts.  If water flow and removal is not properly done, a lot of wood rot results on the outside.   CAtch my drift?

Jeremy - look at how they notched it!  Not a bird mouth really, like the other properly-cut rafters, and pretty deep to accommodate the roof line.  Then they supported only a part of it!

Tom - my builder hated me!  We were the only family not to receive a fruit basket at settlement...  Then years later all the execs had me do inspections on their houses.  True story.

Thank you Evelyn, but crawling from corner to corner any inspector would have found this!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Well, Donald, 14 years is a long time not to have found out!  They know now...

Steven - this was done a while ago, with the results you see here!  Contractor long, long gone.

Chris - finding this in my house would freak me out too.  But, I don't know how grateful the homeowner was when he received the news.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good find. Trusses are a big deal. I always suggest evaluation but people cringe when they hear engineer but they are a must for a proper repair.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 7 years ago

Thanks Rob.  The engineer is the only way to go!  This is an important structural member and must be handled professionally.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Around here I have been finding a fair amount of cracked and broken rafters after the record breaking and rafter busting winter we had two years ago.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hola Jimey.  I bet!  After some of those broken roof photos you posted then, I would expect my photo to be old hat!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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