How do I design this roof?

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I'm trying to create plans for an already built house (long story).  Having trouble figuring out how to design the roof.  Please see the attached pictures.  


What I'm finding tricky is that the long portion of the roof, from the back of the house to the front of the house, goes below the height where the roof ends on the back side of the house.  (It comes well below the top of the second floor in the front of the house - see side view.)  The second story rooms in the front of the house are almost like giant dormers.  


I tried creating dormers, but can't get them to extend the full width.  Can't find another way to do this.  


All suggestions are appreciated.  





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Looks like the Architect was trying to use all Roof types known to man on one small house :)


the garage / front RH side is using  Gambrel Roofs   (or two pitch)  with an added Prow


The Main Area is using an Offset Gable  with the lower side coming off the 1st floor, floor level  ( to meet Gambrel Fascia heights)


No photo of back is there a flat area back there on RH side? or just a longer boxed eave?


you have Boxed eaves  so check box for those in Roof DBX when building. 



No idea on your Software  Version since you haven't filled in you signature so not sure what version you are working with but you can probably add a second floor with zero ceiling height  to achieve this.


Split the rear gable area into two rooms lengthwise ( set where you want the Ridge) with an invisible wall or the Room divider Tool and leave the garage side at 0" ceiling and make the back room 96" ( or whatever ceiling height is ? perhaps 109"?) 


Do you know the Roof pitches to use? / have the Paper Plans? that will help too





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Unless you have Home Designer Pro (any version) you will not be easily able to do the roofs on ths house (Pro has manual roof tools that you MUST have to do wll of those in detail), plus of course you would have to learn how to use those manual tools.


What do you have?



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Thanks for the responses and input.  I'm using Home Designer Suite.  


I don't have a picture of the RH side, but it's a mirror image of the LH side.  


I recognize that my software version might not work to fully match this roof.  For my purposes, I don't need it to be exact, but I'd like to get as close as I can.  


I have already designed two floors in my project with the living spaces the house has.  Regarding, "you can probably add a second floor with zero ceiling height  to achieve this", would that be a replacement for the current second floor in my project, or actually a third floor we're using to trick the software to do what we want?  If this is intended to be a modification of my current second floor, how do I get windows on the size with zero roof height and how do I split the entire space into two rooms lengthwise given that I already have multiple rooms that don't run in parallel set up?  


If the answer is to use the dormer tool and create another level with knee walls, how do I get the very big dormer to go all the way to the edge?  If the suggestion is actually to create a third level with zero height on one side, how do I avoid having effectively a third level on the side with regular height?  


Thanks again for the input and help wrestling with this.  



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definitely going to be tough with Suite but there are tutorials for the basic Roof types which should get you close then you'll need to play around with settings and invisible walls since you only have Auto Roofs.


the Offset Gable is also called a Saltbox Roof in HD and there is a Tutorial here for that :



and the Prow Roof too



you need Gambrel settings over the garage outer walls and the RH area's 2 outer walls as well , the two outer most walls will need to be "Broken"  ( wall break tool) as each top 1/2 will be gable , bottom 1/2 Gambrel



Front entry wall will stay HIP

Back wall will be HIP  

both front walls will be Full gable


The Roofs all appear to be built at approx. the second floor flooring level which is why I suggested the 0" height Room while  building the roof, it gets set back later to normal height later and auto-roofs gets turned off.


Started to play around with it (guessing sizes)  but out of time tonight so no full gable yet.....











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I didn't need to use any manual roof planes but it definitely was a lot of messing around since I don't have measurements or slopes/pitches,heights etc but doable , though I'm still not sure Suite can do all the things I can in Pro.


you may not actually need to be 0" on the 2nd floor ,eg could be 36" as that height will control the Gambrel final ceiling height depending on the pitches used.


here's a few more pics with info in them and settings , have a look and i'll try an answer any questions you have.











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This is what I was able to build using auto roof.  However, it took a LOT of tweaking and resetting ceiling heights (they kept changing automatically).

To begin with, You should NEVER start drawing your interior room walls until the roof is correct!  Delete them. 


ALSO, the 2nd floor gambrel roof rooms are NOT dormers.
Like Kbird said, you should rebuild the 2nd floor with "0" ceiling height, add the invisible walls that are needed, and start setting all your roof  wall types and pitches.  

The back room was then set to a 107" ceiling height.   I had to set the front 'room'  to a 3" ceiling height to make the roof join correctly.
Depending on your own dimensions, this may be different  (this is where the tweaking begins).  

At this point I recommend that that you start doing a  'save as'  for each stage of the project that you get right. 

It will save you a lot of headaches if you need to go back to a place where things were going good. :)

The front prow roof was done by adding a blank 3rd floor that only consisted of the tiny prow rooms. 

LOTS of tweaking here with floor and ceilings heights.  Maybe Kbird can come up with an easier way!?

When the roof is correct, you will turn OFF auto-build roof.
You can then delete all the ugly prow room walls, AND raise the 2nd floor ceilings to the height you want them.
NOW you can begin to draw your 2nd floor interior walls.

At least this image shows that it CAN be done with your program, provided you have LOTS of patience!  :o


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Thanks to all of you for your ideas and demos.  I really appreciate it.  


I generally understand what everyone is suggesting, but I seem to keep stumbling out of the gate.  I add the second level with zero height, set the side walls to full gable, set the interior wall offset and as a knee wall, but I can't get the salt box output like I'm expecting.  The side full gables are still centered at the mid point.  Clearly what I want to do can be done in the Suite version as @Jo_Ann demonstrated.  But I think I'm still too new to the software to follow the directions.  Any idea what I'm doing wrong?  If I can get the basic shape, I can play with heights to get it right, but I'm stuck trying to get the basic shape.  



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Post pics like mine and Jo's so we can see what you are doing / have done


JoAnn is Using Arch 10 and basically I used the same tools as Arch 10 only using AutoRoofs to generate what you see , but as she said it takes a lot of messing with heights etc to get it to work , but even more for us since we don't have the real heights or roof pitches etc . 


Hopefully you did a "save as" and are practicing in that Plan not the one you had all your internal walls etc in....you can save that plan just for internals and keep the new plan for Externals etc, may even be able to copy and paste between them ?.


The area below the long interior wall in my orig.plan is floor height (FH) of 0"    (like JoAnn initially set to 2-3" to make it work till I figured out the right angles/distances)


The area above the interior wall in my orig. plan is FH of 108"   ( did you set this room height ? might be why no "Popup" for the Saltbox) 


JoAnn doesn't mention it but I broke my two long gable walls with the front of each set a Gambrel same as the two Front entry alcove walls , if you look closely you can see the CAD line I used to line them up initially with the alcove ( this can be deleted later.) 




Thought I give it another try and make sure the advice was correct ...actually easier the 2nd time around :)


2nd time around I set the "Room" below the interior wall to 36" so the would be enough head height under the Gambrel Roofs  ( like a dormer) 


so the Area above was set to 36" + 108 ( 9') for a total of 144" or 12'


What you may have missed in our Pics was the invisible wall (exterior wall in 1st plan) over the front alcove which despite its size , is what is controlling the whole front long Gable area  , see my new pics below , for me I set it to 8/12 and the back short gable at 4/12. once the Roof is built and Auto Roofs is off this small wall can be deleted and will take the "extra floor" etc in the front alcove with it. The "dividing" interior wall may also be deleted now, this is also where I usually go into Display Options and LOCK all the Roof items so there is no way to accidently select and thus change or delete something by accident, you can however still display Roof planes (or not) as desired.














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New game plan.
Forget the 3rd floor prow...it can be done easier on floor 2.
Follow the settings in the 2d plan pic. The settings for the gambrel roof wall may vary (based on your own dimensions), but I think you can get the idea.
The gambrel wing on the right is a narrower room, so the gambrel roof settings will be different  (the lower pitch will need to be increased, and the distance from the baseline will need to be decreased).  This will raise the walls to a better height.

Draw the invisible prow walls as shown.  Open the wall dbx and observe the angle, then make sure the other prow wall is at the same angle.   Open the wall/roof tab on each prow wall, specify the pitch (same as upper gambrel wall 3" ?), then check 'high shed/gable wall'.  The pic shows 4" pitch, but it should match the upper gambrel pitch (which is 3").  Oops.
Open the small triangular prow ROOM dbx and designate it as 'open below' and uncheck 'show room label'.
On the structure tab, make sure finished ceiling height is set at 0".   Uncheck 'ceiling over this room'  and CHECK 'use soffit surface for ceiling'.

In a 3d view, you should now only see a prow roof with a white soffit underneath.  :P





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Always stepping up your game huh   :)       the Prow is easier in Pro , a quick drag and click but other than that I don't actually know if Owning Pro would of made it much different/easier to build, messing with Manual Roof Planes may actually of be more time consuming....


And a reminder to CONSTANTLY check the room heights as JoAnn mentioned , they seem to have a mind of their own and are NOT  "set and forget"




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Everyone commenting here is great and I appreciate all the help.  I tried to follow your instructions today and got closer, but still not very close.  I love this software, but recognize I have a bigger learning curve than I thought, especially on the roof.  


I still need to get a relatively accurate roof in my design so I can move on to the rest of the project and need to do it quickly, faster than my learning curve will allow.  I don't have actual plans for the house, just the pictures I shared (long story).  I don't need to be completely accurate for my purposes so best interpolation will work.  


I'm willing to hire someone to help me get there.  I could either send you my existing design and have you transfer what you created so I get a proper roof and then shut off auto redraw probably fastest.  Alternatively, we could set up a screen sharing session and you could coach me through the steps so I can get the roof you designed onto my project (more time but better chance of me learning).  


Please let me know if you're interested, what you think of the two approaches, and what you would charge.  Again, I'm very thankful for all you've volunteered to date and I hope I've given you an interesting challenge.  



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I can have a look at your plan in HD Pro 2015 Trial if you want to post the plan here ( close the plan and zip the file and post here) and give you some pointers ,


HD Pro 10 or Arch 10 JoAnn has can't open your file to edit however they maybe options if needed , lets look at the Plan 1st.





Did you do any site measurements? heights, lengths etc    have more photos ?

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Thanks for offering to take a look.  You've all been along for the ride long enough on this that you should get the full story to understand what I'm doing.  


This is a partially constructed house.  It's "finished" on the outside, but just raw framing (and not a lot of that) on the inside.  It's sat as-is or a few years and is now an estate sale with not a lot of information to go from.  There was a set of plans found in the shed, but they are for an RV garage that the previous owner must have used as a starting point, adapting to fit whatever their tastes and desires were along the way.  The current structure holds to the plans on the outside in general with two major exceptions.  First is the section of the front on the right hand side as you face the front is brought out parallel with the left.  (In the plan it's the "shop" area and it's recessed a lot.)  On the back in the "RV garage" section of the plan there's a bank of six sliding doors that show you a great view instead of the solid wall the plan calls for.  


I'm considering making an offer for the property.  Need to create a rough set of plans to get an estimate from a contractor first.  Some significant changes need to be made to what's constructed.  For example, the previous owner put sliding glass doors instead of a window in the second floor room that sits over the garage.  This makes no sense as there's no cantilevered beams for a deck in place.  I would remove the doors and replace with a window which is what I'm doing in my attached plan.  


Attached is a zipped version of my plan along with a PDF showing more pictures and scans of the plans found for the RV garage and workshop.  I also have some video which I'm uploading and will provide a link in a subsequent post when it's done.  


All I need for now is to get a roof that roughly matches what's there into my plan.  What you have created and posted here should work well.  I'm just not experienced enough to create it with your coaching.  If I do end up buying the house, I will get more detailed measurements and refine the plan which might require more assistance.  My plan has a second floor designed with interior walls.  You can delete this floor and start again.  I'll recreate it once the roof is correct.  


Thanks again!




Lost Mountain - Pictures and Original Plans.pdf


Lost Mountain Plan #1 Backup.zip

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Here's a link to the video of the outside and inside of the existing house.  




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I was wondering actually if it was a large workshop space ,rather than a Home , but they have framed it so you can extra windows easily , may have been on the further plans when they could afford it.


The PDF is pretty good , but doesn't show the 2nd floor , perhaps the City/County has a copy for Permitting? which is something you need to check, were there permits? has what is been done passed ? etc.


they did extend the "shop" forward a good decision I think.



You have all your walls setup wrong as far as the Gable/ Gambrel stuff goes along with the Room heights to get your roof..... will report back once I've had a "play"



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Well I made a couple of copies of the plan and opened them in 2015 Trial , and even managed to get your 2nd floor work back in place , so here is the How to , have a go and let me know how it works out...send me an email if you want the Doc. file I made as I worked but here it is...........

Wall roof definitions mostly wrong---not per earlier pics in the thread
No invisible wall in porch area
Top floor is 2 1/2" longer than main floor ---sticks out over the Sliding doors ---use Align wall tool to shift back--icon on edit toolbar once wall is selected.

Do several Save As's if not done with different file names as backups please.

Easiest Fix is Delete 2nd floor , then rebuilt 2nd floor with default finished ceiling height at 0"
(18") Second Try I redid it as ceiling heights were too low in the gambrel areas at 0"

then follow these instructions

In the build Roof dialog Box DBX set roof pitch to 7

set Roof overhangs to 12" gable , 12" Eave
there seems to be a quirk with Gambrel Roofs , with the Gable overhang set at 12" I had to set the Eave Overhang to 40" to get them to match up later so you may need to try other measurements and see what happpens too and You will need to set non-Gambrel Walls to the standard 12" used for Gables manually (if possible/needed)

looking at drawing in Plan View RH = right hand LH = Left Hand

set top long wall to 6" pitch ( hip is auto in HD)

Draw invisible wall (or use Room divder Tool in 2015) left to right 8' off top wall (7') Second Try

Click in new Room just created above invisible wall, open Room DBX ,and set Finished ceiling height to 120" (138" Second Try)

Uncheck Ceiling in this room ,Check use soffit surface for ceiling

Click and open Room below the Room Divider line and check ceiling is (still) 0" (18" Second Try)

Uncheck Ceiling in this room ,Check use soffit surface for ceiling

Set two front lower walls to FULL Gable (garage door wall and Kitchen (Shop) wall)

Set front door Entry/Alcove wall to 7" pitch (May not be needed as set as default pitch above but check)

Draw invisible wall (R.Divider wall) across Frt.Door Alcove , 5ft back from the front lower walls and set to 7" pitch in DBX ( may need to play with this if roofs don't quite meet , eg 7 1/2" ,8" at 18" room height)

Set new Room ( space between front door and invisible wall) to 0" (18"ST) finished ceiling to match the other Room

Set LH and RH long walls to FULL GABLE in Wall DBX

Set RH Alcove wall to 16" Pitch ,check Upper Pitch , make 3" upper pitch , 36" in from baseline

Set LH Alcove wall to 16" Pitch ,check Upper Pitch , make 3" upper pitch , 48" in from baseline

(3/12 pitch on upper roof is a guess based on fact that it is lowest pitch allowable for shingles)

Break LH Long gable wall approx. 5' upper from garage door wall and set Gambrel pitches (UNCHECK FULL GABLE) ie Set Wall Pitch on Roof tab to 16" Pitch ,check Upper Pitch , make 3" upper pitch , 48" in from baseline

Break RH Long gable wall approx. 5' upper from Shop front wall and set Gambrel pitches (UNCHECK FULL GABLE) ie Set Wall Pitch on Roof tab to 16" Pitch ,check Upper Pitch , make 3" upper pitch , 36" in from baseline

If Alcove Gambrel Roofs look wrong , check the "in from baseline" distance again ie 48 LH and 36" RH side , mine had changed.

Hopefully all looks well ?


Now copy back all your walls etc from a backup plan....

Open Backup plan

Goto Floor 2 if not there

Open Build roofs DBX > delete Roof Planes ( we dont want the bad ones on new plan)

Edit>Edit Area>Edit Area ..... this lets you drag a selection box over the outer walls of floor two

Click Copy Paste Icon

Go back to New Plan , and beside house ( not in it) Right Click (RC) , Choose Paste>Paste And Hold Position ........That should add everything copied off Floor 2 from the Backup Plan back into the new plan in the same spot copied from. (Ignore error about ceiling heights new roof should "cut off")











Not sure what happened but just before finishing the 18" room height version Pro Crashed or I hit the wrong button and I lost the work but think this will get you close. 0" version was fine except when I did across section the ceiling height in the Gambrel rooms was too low to walk even over garage but at 18" looked good.




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Hi Mick, 


Your directions were great!  I followed them and my version now looks like yours.  The only difference is that my roof doesn't meet with the floor in the front door alcove.  I'm trying all the adjustments you note in your write up, but most things I try throw the whole thing off.  How do I fix this problem?  


The prows aren't critical for my purposes, but if there's an easy step or two to get them in place, I'd like to do it.  Let me know.  







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I'll email were to send the 6 pack  :)  


Somewhere in this thread I explained that issue   :)    it's not an issue actually........


What you are seeing is the floor created by the "Invisible wall" you put over the alcove nothing to do with the Roof......turn Auto Roofs Off and then delete   the invisible wall  and it will disappear too.


You can even delete the long invisible wall upstairs   as long as auto roof is OFF   and you never rebuild the roof. ( lock the roof planes so it can never be changed.)


JoAnn's way of doing prows is the only way for the Prows in Suite , however if you are going to do them you need to do them BEFORE you turn off Auto Roof or delete the invisible walls to fix the "alcove issue".


DO A "SAVE AS" Plan before continuing so you can at least recover to where you are now if it all goes pear shaped....


Looking at your Plan I see a few layout issues including the stairs ,Master Bath ,Kitchen , but maybe you were just playing?



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This thread is from 2014 -- last post in August.

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Automatically creating the basic roof styles in Home Designer can be easy using the Roof panel of the Wall Specification dialog. The Pitch value set in the Build Roof dialog only sets the default pitch for all roof planes in a plan. This default value can be overwritten by specifying a different pitch on the Roof tab of an individual wall's Wall Specification dialog.

I swear I'd seen this before.  I was right.  You resurrected a post from 2014 to literally Copy/Paste the Answer section from THIS Knowledge Base article?  Why?  What's the point? I don't understand.



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Wow  - this certainly attracted some serious input from various forum members - that's amazing.

Do you guys all know each other maybe?


A'Prow' roof......the wee little peaked ridge extension perhaps.

That's unusual.

Must be a local thing. 

What is it's purpose...cosmetic or is there a function?


This post has been interesting reading  - all the same.

Thank you all.

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