Roof Vocabulary You Might Need When Building SketchUp Models

By Aidan Chopra

If you’re lucky, the roof you want to build is fairly simple. Unfortunately, home builders sometimes go a little crazy, creating roofs with dozens of different pitches (slopes), dormers, and other doodads that make modeling them a nightmare.

The tricky thing about roofs is that they’re hard to see. If you want to make a model of something that already exists, it helps to get a good look at it — that’s not always possible with roofs. One neat way to get a better view of a roof you’re trying to build is to use a tool like Google Maps.

Always, always make a group out of your whole building before you work on your roof.

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What follows is a brief guide to general roof types and terminology; this may come in handy when building your SketchUp models:

  • Flat roof: Flat roofs are just that, except they aren’t — if a roof were really flat, it would collect water and leak. That’s why even roofs that look flat are sloped very slightly.

  • Pitched roof: Any roof that isn’t flat is technically a pitched roof.

  • Shed roof: A shed roof is one that slopes from one side to the other.

  • Gabled roof: Gabled roofs have two planes that slope away from a central ridge.

  • Hip roof: A hip roof is one where the sides and ends all slope in different directions.

  • Pitch: The angle of a roof surface.

  • Gable: A gable is the pointy section of wall that sits under the peak of a pitched roof.

  • Eave: Eaves are the parts of a roof that overhang the building.

  • Fascia: Fascia is the trim around the edge of a roof’s eaves where gutters are sometimes attached.

  • Soffit: A soffit is the underside of an overhanging eave.

  • Rake: The rake is the part of a gabled roof that overhangs the gable.

  • Valley: A valley is formed when two roof slopes come together; this is where water flows when it rains.

  • Dormer:Dormers are the little things that pop up above roof surfaces. They often have windows and make attic spaces more usable.

  • Parapet: Flat roofs that don’t have eaves have parapets — extensions of the building’s walls that go up a few feet past the roof itself.