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The Weather Network
Sep. 29, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
ArchiText: Considering the roof
ArchiText--A Clipped Gable, Clipped Hip or Jerkinhead roof. (Submitted/Brian Marshall)


Brian Marshall


I received a question from a reader who was curious about what kind of roof crowned his house, which he said had “almost a gable but sort of a hip.” His question led me to realize that we have never explored roof forms; an oversight we’ll remedy over the next couple of weeks.

Before we get to the forms, let’s define roof pitch. In short, this refers to the angle or slope of a roof. In North America, this is most commonly expressed as a ratio of the number of inches a roof rises over a 12-inch horizontal run (distance).

So, if a roof rises more than eight inches over every 12 inches of horizontal run, it is considered a “high-pitch.” A “medium-pitch” would be less than 8:12 but more than four inches of rise for every 12 inches of run, while a “low pitch” would be less than 4:12 but greater than two inches of rise for every 12 inches of run. And a flat roof (which properly built is not flat at all) has a slight slope of less than 2:12.

While most folks would readily recognize a gable roof, which has two sloping sides that come together at the ridge to leave triangular extensions atop the end walls, and with equal ease identify the four slopes that rise to the ridge (or peak) of a hip roof, there are many other roof forms that have been used over the centuries.

Among the rarer roof styles happens to be on the house of our reader which, depending on where in North America you live, is called a Clipped Gable, Clipped Hip, English Hipped or (oddly) Jerkinhead.

Generally this form is only found in Niagara on Arts & Crafts and Craftsman designs. Essentially it is a gabled roof on which a triangular section is introduced at right angles to the ridge at the apex of the gables; essentially ‘clipping’ the top of the gable.

In appearance it resembles an abbreviated hip which, I suppose, led to the Clipped Hip and English Hipped labels.

Next week we’ll look at Gambrel, Mansard and other forms.