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Home | Our Blog | How to Build Dormers in a Roof?

How to Build Dormers in a Roof?

posted on Nov 26, 2020

Dormers in a Roof

Pop quiz! What simple roof expansion looks beautiful from the outside and adds space and light on the inside?

It’s called a dormer! This structure protrudes vertically from the plane of a pitched roof, which adds space to a room, and it usually has a window or multiple windows, which allows more light into the room. Whether you’re looking to add more storage or living space to a bedroom, bathroom, studio, or attic, a dormer would be one of your best options. Not only are they functional and look great, but they also help increase your home’s resale value.

If you’re interested in adding a dormer to your roof, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local roofing company. At Legacy Service, we provide full roofing installation and replacement services for homeowners throughout southeastern PA, NJ, and parts of DE. If you’re interested in replacing your roof and would like to add a dormer, please feel free to contact us. We’ll send out a technician who will provide you with a free estimate.

In this article, we’re going to explain what a dormer is, the step-by-step process to building one, and questions that we’re most frequently asked about them. Continue reading to learn more!

What is a Frame Dormer?

So, what are dormers on a house?

A frame dormer is a simple extension added to your roof that’s designed to add more light and space into your home. The two main types of dormers include gable dormers and shed dormers. Gable dormers are built perpendicular to the existing roof plane, and their ridges extend out from the roof. This construction process is more complex than it is for shed dormers because the shed dormer’s end walls carry the load instead of the sidewalls.

Dormers can increase your home’s storage space whether you build one for the attic or an extra bedroom. Placing a window in there helps increase the amount of light in your home, which really opens up a room. You’ll also be able to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful views of the treetops.

There’s practically no downside to installing a dormer (or two) on your roof! It also enhances your house’s curb appeal and improves its resale value. If you’re interested in dormering a roof, please continue reading. In the next section, we’re going to provide step-by-step instructions about how to add a dormer to a roof.

How to Add a Dormer to a Roof

How to Add a Dormer to a Roof

Before you begin, just remember that adding a dormer to a roof is an ambitious project. It’s best to have a few other projects completed under your belt so that you have the experience to help you do this. So if you think you’re ready to tackle this project yourself (or with the help of a friend), then let’s get started! Here’s how to add dormers to a roof:

  1. Determining if the project is right for you – You may need to consult a roofing expert or carpenter to determine whether this project is right for you. Adding dormers to a roof can get expensive, so prepare your budget before making any decisions. Plan on committing plenty of time as well.
  2. Figuring out the details on paper – Like any other remodeling project, you’ll need to get the details laid out on paper before beginning the construction process. The size of the rafters will depend on the roof and dormer size as well as the local conditions. It’s recommended to consult an architect who specializes in residential construction.
  3. Mark the dormer’s layout on the floor of the attic – Before opening the roof, mark the layout of the dormer on the attic’s floor. Also, make sure the dormer walls are square with the exterior walls of the house. Then, transfer the inside edge of the walls to the underside of the roof by using a plumb bob. At the corners, drive nails up through the roof.
  4. Open the roof – Now it’s time to open the roof. Start by removing shingles in the area and place chalk lines between the nail points. Then, saw along the lines to open it up. After that, mark the old rafters for cutting by using the lines on the floor that indicate the dormer’s front wall. Reinforce the opening by adding rafters along each side.
  5. Put up the wall framing – Here’s where you’ll begin to see real progress. You’ll begin by putting up the front wall on the attic floor. Once it’s up, it’ll be time to install the top plate by putting the plate in position, leveling it, and marking its length. Cut and nail it to the roof and corner stud while ensuring it remains level. After that, install the bottom plate and wall studs.
  6. Install the rafters – Measure the length of the valley rafters and cut them using an angle guide for reference. If you end up miscutting a few of the boards, you can always use them later as the shorter valley jack rafters. After cutting the rafters, attach them to the ridge using nails.
  7. Finish the exterior – Once the rafters are finished, fill in the gable end studs. Then, it’ll be time to install the sheathing on the walls and roof with plywood. We know it’s a great feeling when the job is done, but be careful not to rush it. By paying attention to the flashing and other details, you can save a lot of future headaches. Finish the exterior by adding quality materials that complement the rest of your home.
  8. Complete the interior – Last but not least, finish the framing of the interior. Strengthen the roof with rafter ties, and keep them level and aligned with each other. Remember to include space for ventilation and insulation.

If you have more questions about how to build dormers on your roof, check out the section below.

Tools You’ll Need

Make sure you gather all of the necessary tools before you begin working. They include:

  • Safety glasses
  • Tool belt
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Ladder
  • Hammer
  • Stapler
  • Framing square
  • Reciprocating saw

Frame Dormers

Frequently Asked Questions About Frame Dormers

If you’re considering putting dormers on your roof, then you probably have a bunch of questions before you get started. If you’d rather hiring a professional roofing company that will do it for you, please feel free to get in touch with our team. We offer roofing installation and replacement services for homeowners throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

If you’re still planning to do it yourself, read the questions and answers below. There will probably be at least some answers to what you’re looking for. Read some of the most frequently asked questions about dormers on a roof below:

How much do dormers cost to build?

The cost of adding a dormer (or multiple dormers) will differ depending on a variety of factors. You’ll have to answer these questions before you can even begin to think about the cost. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What kind of dormers do I want: shed, gable, hip, or attic dormers?
  • How many dormers do I want?
  • What should be (roughly) the size of the dormers?
  • What kind of material (asphalt shingles, metal roofing, etc.) will I want to cover them with?

Answering those questions will help you determine the price range of your dormers project.

Adding a dormer to a structure on your property, whether it’s your house or a shed, can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $20,000 depending on various factors. Adding multiple dormers may even raise the price to up to $100,000. Factors that impact the price include size and shape, type of roof, materials and labor costs, and permits.

Here’s the average cost per square foot to add a dormer by roof type:

  • Shed: $75 – $120
  • Flat: $80 – $125
  • Gable: $110 – $150
  • Hip: $115 – $135

If you’re interested in roof installation or replacement, you know who to call. No, it’s not ghostbusters, but it is Legacy Service!

Can you build a dormer yourself?

You can build a dormer yourself, but just remember that it’s a complicated and time-consuming process, so you’ll need to have the proper experience, preparation, tools and materials, and preferably a buddy to help you out.

In the section above called, “How to Add a Dormer to a Roof,” we’ve provided a step-by-step process that will help you complete the project. The steps include:

  1. Determine whether the project is right for you.
  2. Figure out the details on paper.
  3. Mark the layout of the dormer on your attic’s floor.
  4. Open the roof.
  5. Put up the wall framing.
  6. Install the rafters.
  7. Finish the exterior.
  8. Complete the interior.

The type of dormer you’re building will also help you determine whether you want to build the dormer yourself or hire professionals to do it for you. The different types that you may be considering include shed, flat, hip, or gable. Gable and shed are typically the two most popular types. Gable dormers are also known as doghouse-style, and they are usually found on roofs that have an angle and steep pitch. Shed dormers can be a larger investment and they’re a good way to add more space into your home.

What can you do with dormer space?

Dormers aren’t only used by homeowners to add beauty to a building. They’re also quite functional, adding both extra space and light into your home. Many attics are dark, crowded places, and as your items keep piling up inside, it gets more and more difficult to move around and find what you need when you need it.

The good news is that dormers can change all of that. They increase the amount of natural light coming into the room with the dormers and add more storage space to prevent clutter from building up.

Would you prefer to turn your attic into another bedroom? Dormers provide the perfect opportunity for the reasons that we’ve just mentioned. Not only do they add more light and extra space into the room, but you may also be able to see better views of the treetops as well.

You can do whatever you’d like with dormer space. It’s all up to you! Whether you want to add another bedroom, increase your attic’s storage space, or just add more light into your home, dormers are a good investment for your home.

How much square footage does a shed dormer add?

This will depend on the size you choose for your shed dormer. On average, though, dormers will add about 250 square feet to your home, but it may be more depending on the type you choose to install, if you’ve built on an addition, and if you have remodeled other areas of the house.

The good news is that a roof with dormers can also add value to your home. The return-on-investment (ROI) may be on the lower side (typically about 40%), but increasing the light that comes into your home can also reduce your energy costs.

Are roof windows a good idea?

Skylights and dormers are both considered types of roof windows that light into your home. If that’s what you’re looking for, then it’s absolutely a good idea!

Whether you want to increase the amount of light in your attic so that you can actually see when you’re walking around, or you’re looking to add another bedroom to your home, roof windows are the perfect addition. Not only will they improve the lighting in a given room, but they can also help save money on your energy costs.

If you need help with dormer framing, then it’s time to contact the professionals. At Legacy, we provide roofing, siding, and window replacement services. You can schedule a free estimate by getting in touch with our team today.

Your Dormer Project

Get Started With Your Dormer Project!

Building a dormer can be a long and complex process, and the project can take anywhere between four weeks and six months to complete. However, it’s worth it in the end. Dormers will not only look beautiful on your home, but they’re also functional, can improve your house’s curb appeal, and even enhance your energy efficiency.

To get started on your dormer project, follow the steps we’ve outlined above or hire professionals to do it for you. At Legacy Service, we offer full roofing, siding, and window installation and replacement services. If you’d like to install a roof with skylights or replace your windows to enhance their energy efficiency, you know who to call. Our technicians will provide you with a consultation that will help you determine exactly what you need at a price you can afford. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate.

Posted on Nov 26, 2020 in Roof

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