What is a Hip Roof?

 

A hip roof is a structure consisting of 4 sloping slides that meet at the top of the roof, with two longer sides and two smaller surfaces. When constructing a house, the roof structure can greatly influence the style and aesthetics of the building as well as alter the structural integrity. For those who have a traditional architectural style, a Hip Roof will provide both good looks and a sturdy build.

Design

A Hip Roof, or commonly called a Hipped Roof, has 4 sloping sides that meet at the top of the roof to form a ridge at the top. The sides of a Hip Roof are usually made up of 2 longer sides that resemble a trapezoid and 2 triangular sides at each end to join the longer sides at the ridge, also known as the hip.

Hip Roof

Hip Roofs may have 4 equal sides to meet at a point in the centre of the roof, however these are much less common. Whether the roof is equal or not, a Hip Roof is always symmetrical about both centre lines.

The pitch of a Hip Roof can vary between buildings depending on their intended use and where they’re built. While the slopes tend to be fairly gentle, some areas that are prone to extreme winds and hurricanes have a pitch of 35 degrees or more. 

Due to their simple shape, almost any roofing materials can be used on a Hip Roof including tiles, slate, shingles and metal. They also have a consistent fascia around the edge of the roof, making the installation much easier and aesthetically pleasing. This gives architects and builders many options to choose from making them a popular choice due to their versatility alone.

History

Hip Roofs first became popular in Europe during the 18th Century for domestic housing such as bungalows and cottages. Soon after, they made their way across the pond to North America during the Georgian period where they were incorporated into many stately homes and Southern plantation houses.

Since the 18th century, Hip Roofs have remained popular in the West especially for domestic use. Their popularity led to the development of many other popular roofing styles such as the Mansard, Tented and Half Hip roofs that take after hipped shape.

House Hip Roof

Advantages of a Hip Roof

  • Aesthetically pleasing – Hip Roofs are a classic roof design. Their simplicity and symmetry mean they look good from all angles and have a traditional aesthetic. Also, the versatility in terms of materials that can be used means they can be made unique to suit anyone’s taste.
  • Stable – The pyramid-style shape of a Hip Roof makes them incredibly strong so there is little need for extra support. This means Hip Roofs require less diagonal bracing than a typical Gable roof, reducing the cost of construction.
  • Reliable Drainage – Due to their lack of flat surface, Hip Roofs have excellent drainage, so they are perfect for climates with heavy rainfall or snowfall. Roofs with flat surfaces or shallow slopes can lead to a build-up of water that can result in damage or leaks.
  • Aerodynamic – The sloped shape of Hip Roofs gives them aerodynamic properties that mean they can withstand extreme winds and hurricanes. When the pitch of the slopes are 35 degrees or more, the shape of the roof forces the wind to move around it so that the wind pushes down on the roof instead of lifting it up.
  • Extra Living Space – Hip Roofs can easily be converted into extra living space with the addition of roof windows to add ventilation and light. If the pitch of the roof is too shallow to live in, a dormer window can be added to extend the space available.

Disadvantages of a Hip Roof

  • Complex Design – Although a hip roof looks simple to the naked eye, they have a complex system of rafters and trusses underneath that make them more difficult to build than a Gable Roof.
  • Expensive – The complexity of the design makes Hip Roofs more expensive to construct than alternatives. The combination of more materials and lengthy installation times increases the cost of a seemingly simple roof structure.
  • Leakage – While Hip Roofs have excellent drainage that prevents water build up, the ridges at the top and sides of the roof are prone to leakage. To avoid leaks through the ridges, the construction must be completed to a high standard and maintenance must be done routinely.
  • Sloped Roof – Hip Roofs can be converted into living space, especially with the addition of a dormer window, however the sloped roofs make them less suitable than other roof types. Shallow roofs may result in a lack of standing space making the roof space unsuitable for habitable rooms such as bedrooms.
Sloped Hip Roof

When is a Hip Roof Suitable?

The most notable benefit of a Hip Roof is their superior ability to withstand extreme weather including heavy snowfall and hurricanes. For that reason, Hip Roofs are recommended for buildings in climates where extreme weather conditions are common.

Hip Roofs are a sturdy and durable roof structure that can be adapted to any sized building. However, they are more commonly seen in domestic buildings such as houses and bungalows due to their conventional style.

If you are looking to construct a building with a usable roof space, a hip roof may not be the best option. It is possible to convert a Hip Roof by adding dormer windows but structures with steeper slopes are much more suited to loft conversions.

Find out more about how to install roof windows into a Hip Roof.

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