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Re: Ceilings/soffit panels

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I'd be concerned with adding any weight to the bottom chord of the roof
trusses. Typically, they are designed as tension members and don't carry
the additional loads.  What I've done in the past with similar
situations, is to support the soffit structure at panel points of the
trusses.  This at least keeps the members loaded axially but sometimes
requires a heavier soffit structure.  In addition, with the installation
of a soffit structure, there will probably be light fixtures, and
insulation added so these too add to the weight.

If there is existing plaster or other finish material at the existing
finish ceiling line, the removal of it might be a consideration to keep
the loads to the trusses close to original design loads.  Especially if
you can design the soffit to load the trusses in a manner similar to how
the existing higher ceiling loads are transfered to the trusses
Otherwise you may be looking at reinforcing the truss members and/or the
connections.. Especially the heel connections.

I've had a tough time making most older trusses "work" when calced with
the addition of any loads.... Sometimes they don't work even with the
existing loads...  Are these like the 70 mph driving range screens built
in the 110 mph zone??

You might also consider metal framing... It is lighter than wood

Steve Privett CE