A pitched roof is one of the most popular and practical roof structures, a strong triangular shape that stands up well to many stresses. It is the most common roof style adopted across the US for reasons of practicality as well as aesthetics.
But a pitched roof brings with it additional expense, not only at the timber yard, but also with regard to the size of the foundations required. Before you commit, take a detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of a pitched roof.
Advantages of Pitched Roofs
Let’s start with the main reasons why pitched roofs are a great option.
Good Water Drainage
Water will run off a pitched roof into your gutters and away quickly, so if you are in an area where you are likely to receive high rainfall then a pitched roof will be the most appropriate choice.
As long as you ensure that outlets and downspouts are properly maintained then rainwater will not give a pitched roof any problems.
Additional Storage or Living Space
A pitched roof can give a building valuable additional storage space for all of those seasonally used items, such as holiday decorations, college books, or old toys and games you might not use anymore but do not want to throw away.
If you build a pitched roof big enough it could become additional living space, if not now, then certainly at some point down the line. If you can afford to future proof the design then it’s a wise move to upgrade the ceiling rafters so that they are large enough to take the strain of being floor joists.
When further funds allow it could then be a straightforward next phase of the project to upgrade the attic space to a bedroom, an en-suite bathroom or study. Giving a project this future-proof option is a sensible money-saving move. Make sure this option is submitted at the planning stage to save time and bureaucracy later.
Building a pitched roof is a longer-term investment than the alternatives. Concrete tiles are expected to last the lifetime of any building, from seventy-five to a hundred years. Natural slates will last likely up to fifty years, and sometimes even longer.
A pitched roof is a very strong triangular design, which makes it resilient to any number of stresses. A time-served design which has stood the test of centuries of human construction practices across the world, as well as the United States.
Pitched roofs require little ongoing maintenance once built. Inspection is a simple matter of walking around a property to see where something might have slipped, or whether a valley or gully has become blocked with a build-up of leaves or other debris.
Tradition and Versatility
A pitched roof simply looks good on most residential buildings. They are, after all, a solid, traditional way to top off a house and are ultimately very practical.
A pitched roof structure can accommodate pretty much all floor plan layouts, with hips and valleys easing transitions between levels and directions. Pitched roofs have even been used on curved and circular structures to good effect, perfect if your dream design involves a turret or two.
All you need is a smart architect and a skilled roofer.
Disadvantages of Pitched Roofs
With all that said, there are disadvantages to pitched roofs too – below are the main ones.
High Upfront Cost
A pitched roof construction is not cheap. Apart from the cost of lumber there will also be the higher cost of tiles or slates, insulation, leadwork, not to mention the time and labor that a pitched roof entails.
You could save some of the cost of building a pitched roof by using a lower cost material such as wooden cedar shingles, however, these will require changing sooner than slate or concrete tiles as they will not last as long. Some manufacturers will give a good guarantee, but they are vulnerable to rot, warping and splitting.
Complexity by Design
A tiled roof is a lot heavier than other roofing alternatives, which will have to be considered when designing the build. Your architect will likely recommend more extensive foundations for a building with a pitched roof.
The wind loading of a pitched roof will also need to be calculated. This is especially needful in a maritime or exposed area that is subject to high winds from time to time. Pitched roofs are particularly vulnerable to high winds, stormy weather, and freak weather events.
Orientation of a pitched roof to prevailing winds should always be considered when designing a building. The view might be better in one direction, but can the roof covering cope with the exposure to onshore, or mountain winds? In certain areas there could be higher fixing costs to ensure the slates or roof tiles remain in place.
Maintenance costs can be quite expensive for pitched roofs, with access being the most expensive issue. A scaffold, or powered platform may be required, needing specialist training.
Challenge with Choosing the Right Angle
Rapid discharge of rainwater from a steeply pitched roof can cause drains to be overwhelmed if they have not been specified as large enough to cope. Before embarking on your construction project, it would be wise to ensure the plans have taken this into consideration.
A steeper roof pitch will usually be expected to perform better than a roof with a lower slope, but there may be height restrictions in your area that will determine how high you can go, which will have an impact on the resulting pitch of your roof.
A low pitch can cause problems if you are in an area of high snowfall, as the additional weight of a build-up of snow can cause structural problems, sometimes even collapse. Always check local codes to see what is acceptable in your area or climate zone. There may be a minimum pitch requirement.
All buildings require a roof so when deciding on how to complete your build it is a good idea to take some time to decide what you want from your building, and how far your budget can stretch. A pitched roof has a number of advantages, but these often come at a price.
If you understand how it compares to a flat roof and are set on building a pitched roof then be prepared for the additional expense of lumber and foundations. If you need a two-story house, then in order to offset the extra cost perhaps consider using the attic space as a living area.
Finally, it is always sensible to start by consulting your local building codes to understand what is expected, and what works in your area. These codes have been developed over time by people experienced in construction planning where you propose to site your project, so should give a good outline of what it is possible to build.