There are 3 horizontal lengths of timber stretching across the centre-level of my attic/loft space and are attached at either end to the rafters with a single nail. I can wobble them by hand and they don't seem to be under any tension/compression. The House is a bungalow in a T shape and in the picture attached, I am facing towards the top of the T from near the bottom of the T. The roof is a purlin roof and the supports under the purlins are on top of 2 central masonry walls (the hallway) and the house is a solid masonry structure.

From what I can tell, these horizontal members are either leftover temporary supports from the initial construction or are mid-level collar ties?

Could I remove these 3 timbers to open up the attic space for easier access & light storage? I would move them up higher, just under the ridge board, either way.

Any insight is appreciated as I'm not sure which way to go exactly and just looking for some guidance before I talk to an engineer.

Thanks, Derek

attic pic

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi Derek. Do you live in an area where you get heavy snow fall or is it windy? Although now, they don't carry any loads, if there is heavy snow fall that will change. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Nov 13, 2020 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @NMech I live in the South West of Ireland; a pretty mild climate temperature-wise and snow is a rarity. Windy; yes, although I'm pretty sheltered in a valley the area can see hurricane level 1 speeds from time to time. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 13, 2020 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ do you mean level 1 in the Saffir Simpson hurricane level? $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Nov 13, 2020 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's correct. It's rare that it would get to that extreme though, normally maximum wind speed inland in my area would be 50-60mph at most. The last large storm Ireland encountered was in 2017 with Hurricane Ophelia for example. Those extremes would only occur every few decades realistically. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 13, 2020 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @NMech I did think that these ties were to help prevent the rafters being pulled from the ridge board originally, but they are just so flimsy and attached with a single nail on either end; I'm can't see how they would help much if there was enough force externally to do something like this. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 13, 2020 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


Simply said, no.

These are tie refers and they carry the tension load of the attic framing.

By looking at the ceiling insulation one can tell that the ceiling rafters are perpendicular to these tie rafters, so they couldn't help either.

If you desperately need the space and only for lightweight storage (because eventually, you are planning of using a 10lbs/ft2 framing to 40lbs/ft2) you have to remove the insulation and find substantive framing members to install new tie rafters to them at the ceiling level flatwise.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi @kamran I was wondering if it you would be possible for you to comment on a compromise I gave as an answer on this problem. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Nov 13, 2020 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ @NMech, thank you for believing me. I like your answer, if a bit above DIY type of task. My qualms with these type of questions is we dispense answers that do not cover all concerns, legal and technical. Like in this case, what about the seismic impact of extra mass up there or fire insurance if a fire satrt from the converted attic or sloppy framing of the existing ceiling joist say using common nails or cut joists? We try our best to address OP as directly as possible. $\endgroup$
    – kamran
    Nov 13, 2020 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help Kamran! I do appreciate your input and I’m going to arrange a talk with an engineer before going any further of course; and yes even if one issue is solved with removing those horizontal ties then it opens up other issues in terms of loading on the joists also. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 14, 2020 at 12:38

Kamran is much more experienced, so I would go for his opinion (I also upvoted his answer). Especially given the circumstances (i.e. level 1 hurricane).

However if you are that desperate to use the space, one compromise which might be useful to you and maybe structurally sound at the same time (kamran might have something to say about that).

enter image description here

You could try replacing the horizontal beams, with all of the following:

  • a longer beam running along the bottom of the floor
  • two diagonal beam connected to the new beam

Additionally, (but highly recommended) would be to use a steel wire across (where the old beams used to be. The point would be to use an adjustable cable (with a turnbuckle)


alongside an easy release

example of easy release

This way if you wanted to put something big in the space, you could untie the buckles and then tighten them back again. (NOT foolproof but if you are desperate for some space then it might be helpful).

However, as I said, I would have liked to hear from kamran, if this has a chance...

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks both of you! Some really good info there. The insulation that’s pictured above is actually a second layer on top of a lower layer between the joists. The joists are actually parallel to the rafters below this (but I can see how the insulation makes it seem like the opposite). Would this make any difference to the above in this case? As in the rafters are tied to the ceiling joists at the bottom on top of the masonry walls already. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 13, 2020 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ Hi given the circumstances of your location, there are no guarantees unless you have a certified professional have a look at it. Please, consider my proposal as a contribution to a brainstorm, which needs further investigation before deciding on it. @kamran -as usual- has put it very eloquently, that there are many factors that need be considered, and issues to be addressed which are impossible to do with absolute certainty from an online forum. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Nov 14, 2020 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Nmech, thank you for the advice & as I said already to Kamran; I do appreciate it as this is not in my skill set or expertise by any stretch. $\endgroup$
    – DerekOS
    Nov 14, 2020 at 12:40

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