Take it from the top: choosing a roof type for your home

How well do you know your roof? If words like jerkinhead, saltbox, cross-hipped and sawtooth are new to you...then you're about to discover a whole new world. Those are just some of the names you might come across when planning your roof renovation project. In this article, we give an overview of some different design options, along with their pros and cons.

Roofing materials

If you’re adding another storey – or creating a ground-level extension – your renovation brief could also involve choosing a new roof design.
Your roof shape plays a major role in defining the overall look and style of your home; whether you want to keep it sweet and simple, or make a big architectural statement.

What are the most common roof types in Australia?

Although there are numerous types of roof design (including some weird and wonderful names), the three most common shapes in Australia are the hip roofline, the gable roofline, and the mono-pitch.
A hip roof (or hipped roof) is a simple design, where all sides slope downwards to the walls, usually at a fairly gentle slope. So whichever way you view the house, there will be roof coverage sloping down to the gutters.
This is the least complex of the three roof styles, so it’s usually the most economical to build. For larger homes with more than one wing, you might have a ‘cross-hipped’ roof. The line where the two roofs meet is called a valley.
The gable style is also very common, and easy to spot with its triangular frontage. It’s also known as a pitched or peak roof. A simple gable is also very cost-effective and sits about mid-range. A crossed-gable is where two triangular roofs sit perpendicular to each other, so it can also be used for homes with separate wings.
As the name suggests, a mono-roof has just one slope. (Other names include a skillion, a shed roof, or a lean-to). A ‘butterfly roof’ is when two skillions are joined together. For larger houses, a single sloping roof can also be combined with other roof shapes.
Mono-pitch roofs generally cost more, compared to the other two roof styles, due to their extra engineering requirements. A sawtooth roof (so-named because it resembles the side view of a saw blade) is another roof profile used in modern homes.

A roof for all occasions

When you’re building a whole new storey, the roof profile you choose will be critical terms of maximising space. If you want to use the roof space as a full attic or living quarters, a mansard roof design is ideal. Also known as the French roof, it is a large four-sided roof usually with windows installed. The gambrel (or barn roof) is similar but only has two sides.
If you’re adding a new wing or ground-level extension, this is a great opportunity to add interest to your roofline. Combining different roof types, or their varying heights, will add architectural interest. For example, you might have a hip roof with gable over dormer windows, and a skillion over the deck area.
If you’re thinking of doing a simple loft conversion, having a steeply-pitched roof (of almost any type) will make things much easier. If you don’t need to alter the existing roofline – and can simply install some dormer windows or skylights for natural light – this will reduce the building costs significantly.
The roof profile can also have a big impact on the home’s interior. A raked ceiling is whether the ceiling follows the same angle as the roof. These soaring spaces create a wonderful sense of light and airiness; and having an exposed beam structure creates an interesting aesthetic. On the flip side, all that space will be more expensive to heat, and makes hanging a light-bulb or dusting the ceilings quite the mission.

Which roof materials work best

Choosing your preferred roof style is just part of the equation – you’ll also need to decide which materials you want to use. Certain styles will restrict your choice of materials. A curved roof, for example, is only feasibly constructed from metal; while a flat roof has specific waterproof membrane requirements.
Generally speaking, a hipped or gable roof can be built from most types of materials – steel, shingles, tiles etc – but the costs of materials vary quite significantly.
As with any building project, the larger or more complex your roof design, the higher the cost. There will be additional labour/time, materials, structural engineering requirements, and compliance costs.  

Contact Refresh

The beauty of engaging the experts, like Refresh Renovations, is it gives you the freedom to test out your ideas and preferred designs. Your Refresh consultant will help you compare the costs at the early design stage; so you can achieve the ideal roof that’s within your budget.


You may be interested in this house extension project, carried out by Refresh

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