Roof Construction 101: How to Design the Perfect Roof

February 8, 2021

How To Build A Roof Starting with Pitch

Check out how to build A roof here. Pitch is the slope or angle from the wall plate to the roof ridgeline. The pitch can vary a great deal, from a shallow slope up to a very steep pitch. Pitch for a gable roof, the most common, is generally 1/4 or 1/3; which is equal to 1/4 or 1/3 the total span of the building, not counting any overhang. Pitch also has its own denotation, determined by the rise in inches in 12 inches. For instance, a 4/12 pitch denotes a roof rising 4 inches for every 12 inches. Pitch is determined by snow loads, other weather factors, and the covering to be applied to the roof.

how to build a roof
Balanced Composition of Residential Roofing Architecture firm: Geoff Sumich Design Photo by Justin Ankus

In many instances, a certain pitch may be necessary or even required by local codes, advised by Ray Okoyo, a licensed roof inspector in Wisconsin and Michigan and the owner of Roof Critics. For those in the northern parts of the country, an 8 in 12 pitch, or more, is commonly used to keep excessive snow loads off the roof. The minimum pitch, however, that can be used with many roofing materials such as asphalt shingles or corrugated metal is 3 in 12 (3/12 pitch). For lower pitches, a built-up or continuous roll roofing must be applied to keep the roof waterproof. Roof rafters shall be connected to a parallel ceiling joist to form a continuous tie between exterior walls. The clip angle shall have a steel thickness equivalent to or greater than the roof rafter thickness and shall extend the depth of the roof rafter member to the extent possible.

Build A Roof

Roof rafters shall be connected to a ridge member with a minimum 2-inch by 2-inch clip angle fastened with No. 10 screws to the ridge member. The ridge member shall extend the full depth of the sloped roof rafter cut. Where ceiling joists are not connected to the rafters at the top wall plate, joists connected higher in the attic shall be installed as rafter ties, or rafter ties shall be installed to provide a continuous tie. Where ceiling joists are not parallel to rafters, rafter ties shall be installed. Rafter ties shall be not less than 2 inches by 4 inches or connections of equivalent capacities shall be provided. Where ceiling joists or rafter ties are not provided, the ridge formed by these rafters shall be supported by a wall or girder designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice.

More Information

The following digest describes the most common types of wood pitched roofs, their enclosure functions, and common modes of failure. Without the need for too many parts or a complicated construction process, shed roof construction can be built easily and fast with quite low expenses. It distributes the load equally to the load-bearing walls, as it does not include many roof members; the main shed roof parts are rafters and beams. Rafters are the sloped elements that run from the front wall to the back and support the roof cladding and ceiling.

There are many variations in roofs, how long does a roof last but there are relatively few primary options. In case rafters are longer than the recommended length for them to be without support, beams serve as blocking, providing the support and ensuring the roof structure is solid and stable. There are a few new terms introduced, especially with the rafters. Jack rafters are ones that have one end that does not meet a wall plate or ridge beam. Until now all rafters shown have been "common" rafters that run from the wall plate to the ridge board. Ridge board is a wooden member that is provided long the ridge lie or apex of the roof.

In the United States, building codes specify the loads in pounds per square foot which vary by region. At present, architects and engineers design in such a way that their projects comply with the local regulations of the place where they are working.


Flat roofs may also need to be designed for live loads if people can walk on them. The roof deck is made up of sheathing and, in most cases, underlayment, which is called roofing felt. Most call for solid plywood or oriented-strand-board panel sheathing; wood shingles and some tile or metal roofs call for spaced-board sheathing. The selection of one building material or another will establish, in part, the building's global environmental impact. Although widely regarded as unreliable, problematic, and prone to leaking, a correct design can increase the longevity of a flat roof substantially. If your roof leaked and dirty your apartment, you can call  for a cleaning service in San Jose

Dimensions and spacings can vary considerably, particularly in older roofs. Rafter spacings or 'centres' can also vary, from the traditional 400mm (16') up to 600mm (24'). Tapered timber firrings should be fixed on top of the rafters in order to create sufficient gradient or 'fall' so that water drains freely from the roof.

Like any area of construction, from glazing to structural engineering, roofs require unique expertise to maximize their effectiveness.

We hope you liked seeing how to build a roof. Check out more articles at our homepage.

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One comment on “Roof Construction 101: How to Design the Perfect Roof”

  1. If I were to keep my roof sturdy, I would make sure to invest in truss materials. I'll also keep in mind to have it repainted with a bold color. Thank you for suggesting the importance of having opting rafter materials too.

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