A hip roof is one of the most popular roof styles in the U.S. and throughout the world. In the United States, these roofs have been used for centuries – there’s one still standing that was built in the mid 1600s at the Block House in Claymont, Del. Hip roofs became a widely popular roofing structural style in the 1700s on many Georgian and plantation-style homes in the South and Mid-Atlantic regions. They also were commonly used on homes in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Hip roofs became even more commonplace on American Foursquare and ranch-style homes in the 1950s. Today, they are the most widely used style of roof in the U.S. thanks to their clean, modern design and incredible durability, especially in windy and snowy regions.
Modernize created this guide to hip roofs to help homeowners better understand the pros and cons of this architectural style, construction costs, and the main differences between hip roofs and other common roofing structural styles.
What is a Hip Roof?
A hip roof is one of many roof styles used for homes. The easiest way to think of a hip roof is to picture a simple rectangular home with four square walls. A hip roof slopes upward on all four sides, and each plane meets at the peak or ridge. The ridge is the horizontal line that spans the length of the roof at its highest point. So to recap, the ridge is the highest part of your roof and runs horizontally. The hips are the sloped sections of the roof that extend downward from the ridge and meet at the wall plates.
One of the most common roof structural styles for homes in the United States
Provides wind resistance
Allows for vaulted ceilings
Provides better drainage for rainwater
When using rough-sawn timber for cut-roof construction (instead of trusses), the top of common rafters are plumb cut and hung off the ridge board every 24 inches to support the roof sheathing. The bottom of the rafters are also plumb cut to sit flat atop the wall plates – this small triangular cut is called a birdsmouth in carpentry terms. Hip rafters extend from each corner of the ridge board to the outside corners of the house, and jack rafters extend downward from the hip rafters to the walls to fill in the roof framing. Hip roofs are often strengthened with purlins – structural supporting boards that are attached horizontally across every common rafter about halfway down from the ridgeboard. This helps to transfer the weight of the roof load to the interior walls.
Hip roofs are framed so that each side has the same slope, or pitch. A basic hipped roof looks like a pyramid, but instead of meeting at a point, the top meets at the ridgeline. This visual symmetry lends itself a wide variety of architectural styles, which is one reason why hip roofs are so commonplace on American homes.
Different Hip Roof Designs
There are a few different variations of hip roofs to choose from for a home. These include:
Hip and valley
With this type of modified hip roof, the basic rectangular hips are intersected by additional ridges to create L or T shapes. The point at which the different hip planes meet are the valleys. Hip and valley roofs are common in contemporary architecture due to the many attractive rooflines they provide.
Half-hipped or jerkinhead roof
A jerkinhead roof has a gable end that is modified near the top to include a small hipped section. Jerkinhead roofs are more common in Europe than in the U.S. Other names for this style of roof include a Dutch hip or clipped gable roof.
Hip Roof vs. Gable Roof
Although gables are sometimes used on hipped and hip and valley roofs to create many different visual aesthetics, they are a completely different style of roof framing.
A key aspect of hipped roofs is that all rooflines have no vertical sections. Each hip section slopes upward from the walls to meet at the ridge. Gables, however, are triangular-shaped vertical walls that extend upward from the wall plates to a peak. The vertical gables are either sided or stuccoed the same as the walls, or they can be accented in shakes, stone or a different type of siding than the rest of the home to boost the gable’s visual appeal.
Gable roofs also tend to offer homeowners much more attic space than hip roofs due to their greater slopes. The steeper pitch common with gable roofs creates more room from the roof peak to the ceiling joists.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Hip Roof?
On average, you can expect to pay between $24,000 and $36,000 to build a standard 3,000 sq. ft. hipped roof, or around $8 to $12 per square foot. The main factors that affect hip roof costs are:
- Roofing materials used
- Overall complexity of the roof design
- Your general contractor’s pricing model
Whereas gable roofs are relatively simple to construct and often come pre-built as trusses, hip roofs usually require talented carpenters to correctly determine the many different angles and other complex geometry associated with building the roof.
Generally speaking, it takes a lot more materials, time and architectural design features to construct a hip roof than many other different styles of roof. These factors increase hip roof costs versus other roofing structural styles by 40 percent or more.
However, before you decide against a hip roof for your new custom home, consider the many benefits of a hipped roof, which we cover in detail in the next section.
Note that roof installation costs vary by the material used to build the roof. We encourage you to use our free Roof Cost Calculator tool below to get a sense for the cost of different roofing materials.
On average, you can expect the cost for your roofing contractor to construct a new hip roof to be $40 to $80 per hour, or $2 to $4 per square foot, depending on the local contractor’s rates and pricing model. Labor and installation costs can vary by region. Be sure to ask your contractor for a detailed quote and go over it in person to make sure you understand the project’s cost.
Also, keep in mind that if you are replacing an old roof with a new hip roof, you may have to pay disposal fees. Disposal of old roofing typically costs $1 to $5 per square foot. Be sure to ask your contractor about disposal costs, as prices can vary between roofing professionals.
Pros and Cons of Hipped Roofs
Due to their design and shape, hipped roofs provide huge benefits versus other common roofing structural styles.
Since there are no vertical walls on a hip roof, they are better able to withstand high wind forces. Instead of blocking strong winds, the sloped design of a hip roof reduces the uplift and shearing effects of the wind better than a gable-end roof. Additionally, the purloin bracing common with hip roofs alleviates pressure on ridges and hip corners for better balance of overall roof design and a reduction of the total wind load.
Since fascia is nailed across the ends of every hip roof rafter, homeowners with full hip roofs can have gutters surrounding their residences. This allows for a much more complete roof drainage system than gable-end roof designs. One reason for jerkinhead roof designs is that they provide a way for gutters to be placed on gable ends. Lastly, the slopes of hip roofs funnel water off all parts of the roofline and into the gutters.
Since each side of a hip roof provides bracing for sides next to it, these roofs are an extremely sturdy design. They are better able to withstand not only high winds but heavy snow loads and other adverse weather conditions.
With a wide range of angles and shapes, hip roofs provide unmatched visual appeal to your home’s roofline. This roof style also gives homeowners the opportunity to incorporate vaulted ceilings inside the home.
Hip roofs have some drawbacks to consider, though. These include:
As noted earlier, hip roofs cost more to build than gable-end and other common roofing structural styles due to the increased labor, materials and overall complexity of roof design.
More places for leaks
Valleys in hip and valley roofs are commonly the most leak-prone aspect of the roof. These roofs also have many more seams and joints due to the higher number of ridges than other roofing styles. That said, skilled roofers are quite adept at property installing waterproof membranes, flashing and other elements of waterproofing that safeguards your roof from water infiltration.
Reduced attic storage
Hip roofs typically don’t have slopes greater than 30 degrees, which doesn’t create much attic or overhead storage. Gable roofs, however, can have slopes between 25 and 60 degrees – with the latter providing ample attic space.
Is a Hip Roof Right For Your Home?
When it comes down to the bottom line, you will want to choose a roof style that best suits your home, climate, region, and of course, your budget.
Due to their inherent strength and aerodynamic design, hip roofs are ideal for homes in regions with high winds or excessive snow. However, they also work well in areas with more temperate weather because the varying shapes and angles provide dramatic flair to the roofline.
While hip roofs can be more expensive to build than other roofing designs, and they don’t offer as much attic storage, the many benefits of this roof design often outweigh any minor disadvantages.