A good foundation is key, but having a roof over your head is equally as important. The top methods in roof construction are rafters and trusses. Trusses have become the most common and relied upon method for framing a roof in recent years. Having a construction background, I always thought rafters would be the preferred option, but after doing some research, it turns out trusses are the cheaper, more convenient, and more versatile option.
For those that don’t know, roof trusses and rafters determine the shape of the roof and ceiling while supporting it. Trusses are made in a factory using lightweight materials, like 2x4s, and are shipped directly to a construction site. On the other hand, rafters are made from larger pieces of lumber, like 2x8s or 2x10s. As opposed to being pre-built in a factory, they require the skill of an expert carpenter to be custom-built and installed directly on the job site.
Trusses can be produced and purchased in large quantities, which drives down their price. The labor cost for the installation of trusses is also lower as they don’t require the skilled labor of an expert carpenter. Often, they are labeled on plans for the carpenter to be laid out correctly. Once all of this is taken into account, trusses are about 30% cheaper than rafters.
Cost isn’t the only factor, though. Trusses also distribute the weight of the roof onto exterior walls as opposed to the interior walls and come in a variety of designs. With fewer interior load-bearing walls, developers and homeowners can create and utilize an open floor concept if they wish to do so. With countless designs such as King, Queen, Fink, Attic, and Scissor, there is a truss that will meet your needs.
In the end, it seems that trusses are easier to install, cheaper, and much more versatile than rafters. Working with a trusted architect or structural engineer (and Civil Engineer for land development!) is the best way to guarantee to meet your county’s building code requirements.