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Roof Styles and Details

When reporting on the roof or other systems, it is important to use the proper terminology and include accurate locations.

Inspectors should get into the habit of using standard locating verbiage, for example: “left side of hip roof when viewed from front,” or, better still: “west-facing plane of gable roof.” Adopting this vocabulary makes the inspection report more understandable and reduces the number of call-backs from clients seeking further explanations.

Roof Styles:

  • A flat roof should not be fully flat but pitched down in one or more areas for adequate drainage.
  • A gable roof has two covered planes with a center ridge. The planes may or may not be of the same pitch,
    as with the “saltbox” style of home.
  • A gambrel roof is similar to a standard gable roof, but each of the covered sides has two planes.
  • A hip roof has four planes and meets either at a point or (more typically) a short ridge beam.
  • A mansard roof has four pitched planes with steep sides, and either a flat or lower-pitched, upper-most surface.
  • A shed roof has a single plane, and is the roof most commonly used for additions to existing structures.
  • A butterfly roof has two planes angled down to the center.
A bit of everything in Montreal: tower, dormers, turret and pinnacle.

Architectural Details:

  • cupola: a small square tower built onto the roof’s peak
  • turret: an inverted, cone-shaped roof, as one would find on top of a tower structure
  • pinnacle: a decorative feature atop a cupola or turret; quite often, the location for a weather vane
  • dormers: small-roofed projections perpendicular to the plane on which they sit

widow’s walk: a viewing area typically atop the roof of a coastal home, sometimes a cupola-like open structure, historically named as a place to watch for ships returning from sea