Do you use your garage rafters for storage

Here's a picture of a house with a roof structural problem that was an easy call out when I first drove up to the house. As you can see the ridge board at the top of the roof is sagging dramatically. If you look closer you will see the fascia board just above the garage door is lifting in the center. So what is happening here? What caused the roof to sag? Could it have been prevented? This was a vacant house when I performed the inspection so I needed to get out my ďcrystal ballĒ to see what caused the roof to sag in the garage area.
The first thing I wanted to know is what type of roof framing was used? I had a pretty good idea it wasnít a truss roof structure by the way it was sagging. This roof structure was built with conventional roof framing which would be okay if NOT used for storage.
As I entered the garage I found that the ridge board and two cross braces had cracked. These cross braces are used to stop the walls from bowing out thus allowing the ridge to sag. (These braces would be the ceiling joist if this garage had a ceiling).
Since there were two pieces of plywood across the middle of the cross braces in the center of the garage, Iím pretty sure the former home owner was using this area for storage. We see people using the rafter area for storage all the time. Itís my guess that the owner had more weight being stored than the roof structure could handle, thus breaking the cross braces and the ridge board. Roof structures are designed to hold the weight of the roofing tiles on top not the weight of storage underneath.
I know a lot of us use the rafter area for storage and havenít had any problems. If youíre going to use the rafter area for storage, try to keep in mind the amount of weight you are putting up in the rafters, try to store items as close to the walls as possible and not in the center where there is less support. You donít want a sagging roof to happen to you.
A little extra note. As I drove away from the above inspection, something caught my eye. Hereís a picture of a large oak tree hanging over the roof of a house. I took a closer look and found the tree too close to the chimney. Even though weíre still having plus 90 degree weather as I was writing this article, we still need to look at safety items for when the weather changes. If you have fireplaces in your home with a tree growing near it, take time to walk outside and make sure the branches are at least 10 feet away from the top of the chimney. If you donít feel safe trimming the branches yourself call a qualified tree trimming service to perform the work for you.