15 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hip Roof

A hip roof features a design that slopes downwards to the walls on all sides of the structure. Most hipped approaches use a fairly gentle slope to encourage precipitation movement away from the house, although tented roofs and steep grades also qualify under the technical description of this type.

What distinguishes a hip roof is that it doesn’t have gables or other vertical sides to it. Square designs are always shaped like a pyramid because of this design. If it is on a rectangular structure, then it will always have four faces that are almost always at the same slope or pitch. That makes this design one of the most symmetrical roofing types that get used consistently today.

Hip roofs usually have a consistent fascia so that the gutter fitment is equalized around the building. Many designs feature dormer slants, making them a common feature for cottages and bungalows.

If you are considering a new construction project, then these are the hip roof advantages and disadvantages to consider.

List of the Advantages of a Hip Roof

1. Hip roofs provide a stable option for most structures.
A hip roof is more stable than the traditional gables that you will find in Europe and North America. This advantage is due to the inward slope that occurs on all four sides of the structure. This design element helps to solidify the exterior while providing extra resilience against wind and precipitation. Although it may cost a little more than some of the other options that are available today, it provides the extra support that some homes need when they face a challenging climate with their geographic location.

2. It funnels precipitation away from the structure effectively.
Hip roofs manage the precipitation that falls quite effectively. It moves the water down the slope toward a gutter that collects everything for distribution and drainage with a low risk for moisture damage. As long as the shingles, metal, or tiles are in excellent condition, then no seepage occurs because of the slanted design.

This advantage works well for snowy regions that see high accumulation levels. The snow naturally moves downward from the roof, with its weight encouraging distribution away from the structure. That means you avoid standing water and the extra pressure that comes with significant accumulation.

3. You can add extra living space underneath a hip roof.
Hip roofs can deliver extra living spaces if you build a dormer or a crow’s nest to the design. This single addition serves as a room that creates a lookout point at the top of the property. The roof portion of it stands alone from the rest of the design, but it is an easy addition to a home if you need a little extra space. Contractors can place the structure on top of the existing house, cut their way through the roof, and supply plumbing or electricity to it as needed.

4. Hip roofs can use wind pressure to keep the structure in place.
If you live in a region that receives the occasional hurricane, then a slope of 35 degrees is often recommended to reduce issues with uplift. When there’s a steep slope with a hipped design, then the wind encounters a stalling effect when it passes over the roof. That creates an effect where the roof gets held down on its wall plate because of the wind pressure.

When you see extensive damage in a region after a hurricane and a handful of homes that seem to be untouched, most of them will have the correct angle of a hip roof helping to provide that outcome.

5. You have access to several design options with a hip roof.
Several variations of a hipped roof can give homeowners some additional flexibility when designing their structure. A mansard roof provides two different angles, with the lower one much steeper than the upper. You can use a tented roof with steep slopes that lead to an intersection or peak. Gablet roofs have a hip with a small gable above it to simplify the construction process and add windows as needed.

You can also settle for a jerkin head roof or clipped gable if you want to fuse the gable and hip designs together. Some pavilion roofs also qualify as hipped even though they have multiple slants to accommodate the shape or size of the structure in question.

6. Each bottom section of the roof can hold a gutter.
If you have problems with property drainage, then a hip roof is going to provide you with the added control you need for precipitation events. The slope of each side is suitable for gutters, allowing you to funnel the water into a single drainage site away from the property. You can install an underground drain that eliminates the need for water control with this option if you prefer.

This advantage also opens the door to collecting rainwater for use in your garden, yard, or for drinking purposes with the right filtration in place.

7. Hipped roofs improve the curb appeal of many homes.
Most colonial properties use the shape of the hip roof to improve the curb appeal of the property. Even churches and government buildings use this shape because of the attractiveness and distinctive nature of the design. It’s the perfect solution for anyone who prefers a traditional look over something modern. You can still have all of the accessories that a modern home provides when using this structure, including a chimney that runs along the exterior wall if you prefer.

Hipped roofs provide minimal interference with the features most people prefer with the modern home.

8. You can use a variety of shingles or roofing materials with hipped roofs.
The slighter angles used for a hipped roof make it suitable to almost any texture or material that you want to use for shingles. The structure accommodates the use of slate or clay tiles, asphalt shingles, and almost any other material that’s available in today’s market. That means you can create the perfect look without spending a whole lot more than what other designs would cost.

List of the Disadvantages of a Hip Roof

1. A hip roof must be at a specific pitch in windy areas.
If you live in a geographic region that experiences strong storms frequently, then you with want to have a pitch angle that is somewhere between 18.5 to 26.5 degrees with its angle. That means your rating should be 4.5 to 6.5. Anything less or more than that in your design could create issues with the wind when it really blows.

In extreme situations, this disadvantage could lead to problems with the roof coming off despite the fact that it requires additional materials to create.

2. It is more expensive to build a hipped roof.
Hip roofs cost more to build because it uses a complicated design that requires more building materials. That means a cost-conscious construction project should look at the idea of using gables instead. Although the design requires less diagonal bracing, it requires a specific approach to ensure the structure doesn’t act like an airplane wing when the wind flows over it. Failing to manage this issue can cause lifting to occur on the leeward side of the roof.

You have additional material costs to consider with this disadvantage and more labor expenses to consider. It takes more time and additional hands to create the final result you want with this option, which means a steep angle could cost up to 15% more than something with traditional gables.

3. Ventilation in a hipped roof is challenging to achieve.
It is harder to install adequate ventilation in a hipped roof because of the equalized nature of each slope. If you interrupt the aerodynamic profile of the structure on one side, then the rest of the roof feels the impact of the imbalance. This issue can lead to moisture building up inside the top of the structure, leading to mold or mildew formation that can impact the health and wellness of the house’s occupants.

That’s why you’ll usually see venting fans on both ends of the structure to create air movement through the attic or upper crawlspace of the building. You might also see a fan at the peak of the roof so that any impact on the slopes is minimal.

4. There is less room inside the roof space.
When you build a hipped roof, then you’re creating a tight space to use in the attic because the slope comes down low over the exterior walls. That means it is rare for there to be any usable space beyond light storage in this area. If you have plumbing or electrical components routed through this area, then accessing them can be difficult because you have a small crawlspace to use to make the repairs.

Although you can add a dormer or a crow’s nest easily for extra space, the traditional gables and other roof designs can give you the extra storage or finished living area you want to expand the square footage of your home.

5. Hipped roofs provide fewer opportunities to use natural light.
You will not find a gable with a window for natural light when using the hipped roof design for a home. The slope comes all the way down from the peak of the roof to the sides of the exterior. Even when using one of the design variations for this option, such as a mansard or Dutch gable, you’ll see this disadvantage occurring. Your builder will need to work with the side exterior walls if they rise high enough to counter this issue.

Since most bungalows and similar designs don’t offer high walls, most owners find this disadvantage to be the one that’s most prevalent.

6. Some hip roofs can be prone to leaking issues.
If a crow’s nest or dormer gets built into the overall design of the hip roof, then the final structure will contain additional valleys and seams that require attention. This added space creates a higher risk of moisture damage and water leaks to occur, especially around the installation point. Your contractor must add the correct flashing to the building process with weather stripping in some regions to ensure a positive result occurs.

If you don’t follow the recommended system of roof maintenance with a hipped design, it won’t take long for minor issues to turn into significant problems.

7. Hip roofs have more seams that you’ll need to manage.
The increased number of seams that are necessary with a hipped design creates another level of risk for leak development or damage. Using best practices can minimize the impact of this issue, but you’ll need to take care whenever someone must access the top of the home for some reason.

This disadvantage also means that there is going to be more weight on your roof to manage. That requires additional joists if you tend to use architectural shingles to complete your roof. If you want to move from asphalt shingles to a metal roof, then you may need to retrofit the roof before completing the work.

Conclusion

The hip roof is the most common type that you’ll find in North America second only to the gable design.

Whereas a gable roof offers two sloping sides that meet at the top of triangular sidewalls, the traditional hipped design provides no gable ends. It is a design that provides a complete roof that extends over the entire exterior structure, reducing the impact that falling precipitation or local debris has on the home.

The advantages and disadvantages of a hip roof show that it is a favorable choice to consider in regions that face hurricanes or strong storms. When a roof on all four sides of a home exists, then it can offer more protection to the overall structure. It reduces the amount of exposure that can occur along the exposed ends of the walls.

If you want extra room in your attic, then there can be challenges to implementing this design. When stability is your primary concern, then that’s when to consider this option.

About the Author of this Blog Post
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.