A Roof Pitch That is Too Shallow

#3 of 10  Home Design Mistakes

A steep roof pitch is my personal preference. I admit that in some climates and with some houses low-pitched roofs make sense. Yet I see too many houses where a little more roof would add a lot to the attractiveness of the house. I will even go so far as to say that a flat roof is preferable to those roofs that barely rise at all.

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Let me also add that there are economic and engineering reasons why low-pitched roofs make sense, but I am talking aesthetics here. They are ugly.

You can argue that I am only against these because I have been culturally conditioned this way. That is probably true, but I think I am fairly representative. While homes from dryer climes have long had flat roofs, in Northern Europe the standard was steep roofs since time began. As roof materials a shallow roof pitch became possible.

Since a roof with a minimal pitch requires less material and less labor it is cheaper than a steep roof. This has driven a push to go against our cultural inheritance and accept these lower pitched roofs.

In some rare cases I will grudgingly grant that a roof with a shallow pitch looks good. Italianate houses generally fall into this category, but these are houses that still carry a taste of Southern Europe with them. Your average house just looks awkward with a roof this shallow.

Compare these next two houses. They are very similar in their layout. Both could be called a Ranch House. The one on top has a roof pitch of 1:2. The one on the bottom has a roof pitch of 3:4.

A low roof pitch makes this house seem cheap.

The steeper roof makes the house on the right seem more substantial. It has a weight that the house on the left lacks.

A roof pitch of 3:4 makes this house seem more substantial

I have noticed this effect since I was a young man. I won't go so far as to say the steeper the better, but too shallow a slope and the house loses something. I think I can describe it best by saying that it looks less like a house. It moves out of the realm of a home and becomes merely a building. 

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