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Where ceiling joists are not connected to the rafters at the top of the wall plate because they rest at a lower elevation, rafter ties are connected to the sides of the rafters where they rest on the top plate to provide restraint from the end thrust of the rafters created by the weight of the roof structure.  Ties connect between the bottom of the rafters at the top plate to the ceiling joists or to the opposing side of the building to provide a continuous tie.