The Lean Design Blog: Are TJIs costing you more than they should?

December 6, 2011

My psychiatrist told me I'm going crazy.  I told him, "If you don't mind, I'd like a second opinion."  He said, "All right. You're ugly too!"

When it comes to TJIs we should take a cue from Rodney Dangerfield and get a second opinion or at least a second look at our joist layout. We send our plans out to the lumber company. The lumber company creates a truss joist layout, develops an estimate, and once agreed upon sends the joists to the job. Simple right?

It can be, but what I have found is that more times than not the joist layout is incredibly inefficient often having extra joists which create hundreds of dollars per home in additional cost. Why? Well often the plans are not complete at the initial bid stage, and everyone is in a hurry to get the bids out resulting in multiple mistakes. I have seen joists that are far too deep, spaced too close together and as well as extra unnecessary joists. I have also witnessed joist layouts setup inappropriately.

Don't get me wrong the joists must meet the governing code as well as the customer code in terms of deflection, however the situations that I am referring to far exceed both. In one case recently on the West Coast a builder was paying an additional $700 on a home because the layout was inefficient. This can add up to serious moola when applied to a multiplier.

My advice is talk to your supplier and have them take a second look at your joist layout. With completed plans and a bit of time at his/her disposal I am confident your second opinion will be much more favorable than that given by Rodney's psychiatrist.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at or 248.446.1960.


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