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Messages - Fred H

Hi Nathaniel,

Haven't been here for a while so I read through the later postings. I'd followed you on Kickstarter and was disappointed when you didn't reach the goal. I'd like to offer a couple of thoughts:

1) Your neck: My old eyes required me to move my head to see all of the screen, giving me stiff necks. I recently started using an ErgoMart Limbo desktop stand for my monitor. It has the bottom of the monitor resting on my desktop, allowing me to have all of the screen in focus without moving my head.

2) How I use the truss plugin: I was new to SU and couldn't understand how to create roofs, particularly since the pitch will be critical for us. So I just used your plugin to create the roofs, mostly ignoring the trusses. I suspect that many new SU users have the same problem. How about a separate plugin for beginners? It could create the roof surfaces, leaving the necessary information for the full program to create the trusses (or just hidden until the full program is purchased). The quick roof surfaces program could be your mass market product.

Best wishes,

QuoteThe vertical line next to your main entrance is offset from the exterior wall line, this is skewing your secondary roof (dormer) from the perpendicular to the main roof line.

Thanks; I woke up this morning realizing that I must have done that and planned to delete or edit the message. I appreciate your looking at my model and the clarity of the explanation.

QuoteAnother hint:  Click on the global settings and turn on layers and materials, this will let you peel back the roof  and look at things easier.
I've done this in some versions, but since we're just working on the overall "look" right now we don't need that detail.
Hi Nathan,

I'm using your plugin to guide the "look" of a house we're not sure we can afford to build. Until we get it to look like we want we can't ask for any bids.

To break up a too-large roof expanse I wanted to add a dormer. Since that's not fully implemented yet, I thought I'd just do an additional roof. But the result is weird; it seems to be rotated a few degrees clockwise as seen from above.

I put the file on dropbox so you can look at it: I made the "dormer" using a Fink truss with a 9/12 pitch, 16.6025" energy heel and 24" overhangs and gables. The three points I used are the two vertical dotted lines on the front where they intersect the green wall, and where the horizontal dotted line intersects the brown wall.

Either I'm misusing the program or there's a bug. Would you please take a look?


Thanks for the FPSF additions, I'm looking forward to working with it.
I found the references again. The most complete is from the Alaskan Housing Finance Corporation,, page 13. It has advantages and disadvantages, with drawings showing their use. This was the most complete information I found

Foard Panel has some good detail on what they term a "dropped heel truss", which seems identical,

This: shows a dropped chord in a flat truss.

I found a few other references to them, but they are redundant with the above information.

Have you considered adding insulation? We're planning on using a Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation because of it's cost, our zone 6 location, and the rocks and ledge we know are there.

As the insulation thickness and extent vary with zone and occupied/unoccupied this has those two parameters, but is well-specified in the code. Here is an explanation with links:

Additional complexity would come with unoccupied slabs (e.g. garage, front porch, patio) contiguous to an occupied slab. Edge insulation would be an issue too.

If this is outside the bounds of your plans, please feel free to ignore it.
Quote from: Medeek on May 30, 2017, 01:56:27 PM
I am interested in these drop-heel trusses you have described.  Please feel free to email me some pictures or drawings, I am not familiar with this configuration but if it something that I'm missing from the plugin I would definitely be interested in adding it in.
I've lost the references to drop chord trusses. I do a lot of searching on my phone while kind of watching TV. The phone doesn't keep the records for long and I researched this weeks ago. But I remember the description and the points -- although I'm not technically able to evaluate their correctness, so I'd appreciate it if someone else did.

Description: A chord below the top of the wall that the ceiling is attached to. Think of a long squared U (e.g. └───┘). Of course, some spans would require additional vertical members for support.

Benefits claimed:

   1. No bracing or blocking needed (vs. energy heels, particularly more than 5.25") as the wall provides the necessary structure.
   2. Air sealing should be easier as the complexity of top plates, etc. is above the sealing level; just the ceiling and ceiling to wall seals.
   3. Avoids ceiling lift in winter because the structural bottom chord (my terminology) is the same temperature as the top chord. Note that this requires the drop to contain enough of the insulation to expose the structural bottom chord.

My potential application:

   * To be certain of all three benefits I'd need a drop equal to my insulation depth -- 15+" for R50 cellulose -- to expose the entire structural bottom chord to the same temperatures as the top. This adds that same 15+ inches to the top of my SIP walls to leave the bottom chord above the insulation. My estimated cost of doing this is $515/inch, I doubt that it would be worth it.
   * If I use a drop of 15 - 4.625 (minimum 9/12 heel) = 10 then the top of the bottom chord would be close to the surface of the insulation, and might yield benefit 3. But this would cost about $5K, which is probably not worth it to me.
   * If I use a drop the same as the energy 5" heel I get the first two benefits. This might be worth the cost of $1575.

Note that my cost analysis is entirely dependent on my use of SIP walls. Other construction has much lower material costs, which is what effected my costs. This analysis makes me more interested in investigating non-SIP walls. (Particularly after I found InsulationDepot dot com this morning, which sells recycled insulation.

Implementing drop chords in the plugin will require more point identification than a common truss. Obviously, the inner points of the walls will need to be marked -- as these are the ends of the dropped chord. But overhangs are possible too: my design has an overhang above the front door. (This is easy with a Fink truss, as i just extended the roof line.) I don't see any easy way of doing this with a drop chord truss; I hope you do.
Quote from: Medeek on May 30, 2017, 01:56:27 PM
Hopefully the plugin made it quicker and easier to generate the roof geometry, that is the intent at least.  I really need to get to work on the wall plugin to round out my plugin family.
The plugin was crucial for us to choose a roof pitch. It was why I purchased the plugin and I'm very pleased.

The wall plugin (which I haven't looked at yet) would be useful if we don't use SIP walls. Although, this detail will probably be handled by our contractor.
Quote from: Medeek on March 01, 2017, 09:48:52 AM
Hopefully a few of you will take me up on this offer since I am really curious to see how the plugin is actually being used by real architects and designers.   
I'm not an architect or designer (in recent decades I've done mostly software), but I have a purpose and your plugin has served me well. We are determining whether we can afford to build a second house on some land we own in Vermont. To do this we need a design and it has to serve two purposes: Cost and aesthetics; your plugin has served the second for us. Here's what we did:

We found a design on the Internet that we liked. One of its failings was too low a roof pitch for our taste (we live in a cape). Another was its ceiling height; since the house has to be small, we felt that 9' ceilings would help it feel more spacious. So I learned enough Sketchup to model the house. We tried different wall heights and roof pitches to be sure that we will like the way it looks. As the overall size and inside layout changed, we repeated the tests. That's now past and we're refining the inside design.

So far, we've used it for a preliminary quote of building and erecting the shell with SIP walls with trusses including sheathing. This appears to be the lowest cost method of getting the SIP benefits, although we won't go this route if the builder resists. But it was a good place to start; we now know that we're in the ballpark.

The quote was done with two alternatives: (1) 9' walls with 5" energy heel trusses; and (2) 9.5' walls with 5" drop-heel (or, we've also seen, dropped chord) trusses. The latter, for it's higher wall costs, was touted as providing easier and more complete air sealing. We don't know yet which alternative our (unknown) builder will prefer, if either.

I mentioned the drop-heel trusses for completeness. It's apparent that you (like me) are driven by this, so it's yet another potential item to add to your lists.

Thanks for all your efforts,