Monday, February 22, 2010

The Hip Roof

When we built a two story addition on our first house in Santa Fe ( background, above ) I tried to keep the overall look as low as possible because there were only a few two story homes in our neighborhood and I didn't want to stick out any more than I had to. So started my infatuation with the hip roof.

 I found the hip to be a far superior roof system. It gives the overall profile a more subdued look as there is no tall gable end. It also gives the house more protection in high wind areas for the same reason. And it sheds water equally on all sides. There is an overhang all around. Later we acquired the home in the foreground which was originally had a flat roof. Now lets be clear, I can't stand a flat roof. It defies the laws of gravity. We want water off the roof as soon as possible. The flat roof had its place in the history of New Mexico when lumber and roof coverings were limited or none existent. But since the railroad first arrived in the late 19th century we have had mills for turning logs into lumber for framing a pitched roof and access to precious metals for covering a roof. There may be some nostalgia for the pueblo style roof on the faux adobe house but it is manufactured by the style police and promoted by builders who know that a flat roof house is way cheaper to build and still charge the unsuspecting buyer an outrageous price. The builder is long gone when the first leaks start to appear. As you can see above I infected the whole end of our block with the hip roof before I was done.

And I didn't give up. This house, above right, had the flat roof, built probably in the 1940's. The roof rafters had begun to sag creating pools on the roof. By adding the pitched roof I was able to take the load off the rafters. With the overhang and gutters I was able to keep water away from the adobe walls. As you can see I had gutters going everywhere as I collected the rainwater for use in the garden and for keeping water away from the walls. You will also note that I really like corrugated galvanized metal. It is inexpensive, long lasting, and relatively forgiving in the installation, although it should carefully be attached with metal roofing screws. I am a fan of the 4 in 12 pitch as it sheds water well and can be ( carefully ) walked on for installation and maintenance. It also keeps the roof profile lower. Other parts of the country may require a steeper pitch depending on the climate. The hips you see here are dutch hips which means they have a small gable at each end of the ridges. These are a great spot for roof vents which is a whole other topic for another time. I got to be quite good at framing the hip roof by the time I got all these roofs built. It is more challenging than the gable end roof. A good carpentry textbook can explain it easier than I. I loved learning how to use the tables on the framing square.

The above hip roof we found in our travels around the country and shows another way to use the hip. Below is the framing on the inside with the king post going up through the center. If I can find more examples of this in the future I will revisit this subject. In the meantime if you are building a house or just the roof consider using the hip roof. It is practical and stylish and sets a house apart from the others.