Creating an Energy Heel Truss

Reference Number: KB-00032
Last Modified: March 31, 2023

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect PremierVertical SeparatorHome Designer Professional


How do I create an energy heel truss?

Truss with a raised heel


For energy efficiency, some areas recommend an energy heel, or raised heel, so that there is not a cold spot in the intersection where the roof meets the wall. An energy heel raises the roof, and allows for more insulation to reach the outside wall.

In this article, we will build build a basic gable roof over a 20' x 30' structure, create a single energy heel truss, then replicate the truss across the roof.

To build the structure and roof

  1. Open  the plan in which you would like to create roof trusses, or select File> New Plan .  

    In this example, a simple 20' x 30' structure is used.

  2. With the Select Objects  tool, select the left and right walls, then click the Open Object  edit button.

  3. On the Roof panel of the Wall Specification dialog that opens, choose the Full Gable Wall option, then click OK.

    Selecting the Full Gable Wall option on the Roof panel of the Wall Specification dialog

  4. Select Build> Roof> Build Roof  from the menu, and on the Roof panel of the Build Roof dialog that appears:

    Roof panel of the Build Roof dialog

    • Check Build Roof Planes or Auto Rebuild Roofs.

    • Select the Trusses Framing Method.

      In X14 and prior versions, check Trusses (no Birdsmouth) instead.

    • Specify your desired Pitch (in 12) and Roof Overhang values.

      In this example, the default 8" in 12" pitch is specified with the default 18" overhangs.

    • Set the Heel Height to your liking.

      In X14 and prior versions, uncheck
      Automatic Birdsmouth Cut, then specify the Raise Off Plate (+) or Birdsmouth (-) value to the height you want the energy heel.

      In this example, the value of 12" is used.

  5. Click OK to close the dialog and generate the roof planes based on these settings.

To create energy heel trusses automatically*

*Applies to Chief Architect Premier X15 and newer versions.

  1. Click Build> Framing> Build Framing  from the menu.

  2. In the Build Framing dialog that appears:

    Checking the Energy Heel box on the Trusses panel of the Build Framing dialog

    • On the Trusses panel, ensure that the Member Depth and Maximum Horizontal Span properties are set to your liking, then check the Energy Heel box.

    • On the Roof panel, verify that the Rafter/Truss Spacing and other roof framing settings are to your liking, then check the Build Roof Framing box.

      In this example, the default Rafter/Truss Spacing value of 24" is used and the Ridge box is unchecked so that a ridge board/beam is not generated.

    • Click OK to generate automatic trusses, along with any other automatic framing components, such as lookouts and fascia boards.

      You may be prompted to choose whether or not to display roof framing layers in the active view. Whichever choice you choose will not affect the generation of the framing components.

    The trusses located on each end of the structure will be reduced gable end trusses. If you don't want these types of trusses to be built automatically, open the two gable walls up to specification, select the Roof panel, and uncheck the "Include Automatic End Truss Above" box. Once you regenerate the roof framing, end trusses will no longer be built.

  3. Navigate to 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Framing Overview to see the results.

    Perspective Full Overview of energy heel trusses
    Perspective Full Overview of energy heel trusses

To create energy heel trusses manually

  1. Click Build> Framing> Roof Truss from the menu, then click and drag to draw a roof truss.

    Roof truss being drawn in floor plan

    Note: A Message may appear asking "The layer 'Framing, Roof Trusses' is not displayed. Do you want to turn on the display of this layer in the current view?" Click Yes to display the Roof Trusses layer in this view.

  2. Using the Select Objects tool, select the roof truss, then click the Open Object  edit button.

  3. On the General panel of the Roof Truss Specification dialog that displays:

    Roof Truss Specification dialog

    • Check Energy Heel.

      Starting in X14, trusses can be setup to have the "Energy Heel" option selected by default. To do this, navigate to Edit> Default Settings, select the Framing category, then click Edit. In the Framing Defaults dialog, select the Trusses panel, then place a check in the "Energy Heel" box.

    • Check Force Truss Rebuild.

    • Click OK.

  4. Next, Move  the truss to the edge of your structure.

    Note: If you receive a message stating that the "Roof and ceiling planes cannot be found or they are too close together", the truss has been moved too far and is not bearing on the wall properly. Zoom into the area and move the truss so that it is located on the main framing layer of the wall.

  5. With the truss still selected click on the Multiple Copy  edit tool.

    Multiple Copy is not available in Home Designer Pro; instead, use the Transform/Replicate edit tool. As an example, if you wanted to create 6 copies all separated a certain distance from each other, you would check the Copy box, set the Number of Copies to 6, then check the Move box and set the X Delta to be 24". Negative values can also be set for each of the Deltas if needed.

  6. Click on the Multiple Copy Interval  edit button and verify that the All Trusses is set to the desired spacing and click OK.

    Multiple Copy dialog

  7. Move your cursor over the Move  edit handle of the truss. You will notice that your cursor changes to the Multiple Copy  cursor.

  8. Click and drag across your plan to place trusses at regular intervals.

    Copying multiple trusses at 2 foot intervals

  9. Create a Perspective Framing Overview  to see the results.

Now, additional framing components, such as lookouts and fascia boards, can be generated automatically using the Build Framing dialog.