How to Design a New Roof

Written by judi light hopson
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How to Design a New Roof
Roof lines define a lot about a home's overall design. (new house roofing image by Gale Distler from

A home's roof area is a significant part of the home's design. In fact, the roof space determines a lot about the architectural style of the structure. A sharply-pitched A-frame roof, for example, may contribute interesting loft areas for a chalet-type house. A flat roof helps to define a high-tech house with lots of glass on the exterior. Enormous roof areas, with multiple roof lines, can give a house the look of elegance and grandeur. Keep in mind that a roof is one of the most costly aspects of house building, so plan accordingly in terms of meeting a budget.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Home design books
  • Sketch pad

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  1. 1

    Go over house designs you find appealing in home design books. Select a basic roof shape that looks appropriate for your project. Choose multiple roof lines for a visually appealing home. Envision how the roof shape might change the home's interior in various ways when the house is completed.

  2. 2

    Use roof shape to expand interior space. Plan to vault a ceiling to make excellent use of a roof's steep pitch, for example. Design skylights or dormer windows on the roof exterior to channel natural light inside the rooms. Use pre-built roof trusses over a large interior space, so that no support framing or posts are required in the middle of the floor space. Create a large family room or kitchen by using pre-made roof trusses in this manner.

  3. 3

    Figure out the details of overhangs. Sketch the size and shape of overhangs to enhance the look of a roof. Plan generous soffit areas and overhangs to make a house look upscale. Don't skimp on these areas of roofing, or the house may look cheaply built. Use generous overhangs to protect the exterior facade of a home and prevent rain penetration into walls as well.

  4. 4

    Draw the roof and house exterior. Design a roof that does not look too bulky for a one-story house or too skimpy for a two-story house with large windows. Use graph paper to fit the house plan to a scale of one square representing 6 inches. Create good proportions on graph paper to ensure the roof looks exactly as it's designed when construction is completed.

  5. 5

    Choose roofing materials. Select a metal roof for a home in a densely-wooded area. Choose a metal roof to keep down moss and mould on the roof. Choose cedar shakes or tile roofing if other homes on the street use these kinds of roof coverings. Pick out roof colouring that creates a good sense of harmony between the house exterior and the roof.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't select a metal roof that is bright blue or red, for example, in most neighbourhoods. Choose a roof colour that is the same as a colour found in nature, if you're in doubt. Pick charcoal, leaf-green, medium brown or beige, for instance. While any colour is appropriate in certain settings or neighbourhoods, try to select a colour that doesn't stand out on its own.

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