What is a Hip Roof?

Published: Oct. 26, 2018

A hip roof has all of its sides slanting downwards to the walls at a consistent angle. The external angle at which the adjacent sloping sides meet is known as the “hip”. A “hip end” is the triangular sloping surface that exists as a result of the hips that meet at a roof’s ridge. A house with a hipped roof house has no gables. Generally, hip roofs have dormer slanted sides and a consistent level fascia enabling a gutter to be installed all around the roof. Hip roofs are sometimes referred to as pyramid and pavilion roofs. For square buildings, hip roofs generally point upwards to form a pyramid-like structure. In the case of most rectangular shaped buildings, two triangular and two trapezoidal sides are used to form the hip roof.

History of Hip Roofs

Hip roofs are very popular in American architecture due to their aesthetic appeal as well as durability. They date back to the 18th century, where they were spotted in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Hip roofs were a common feature in 1950s American houses too. In the U.S., hipped roofs are mostly seen on cottages and bungalows in modern domestic architecture and have been an essential part of French-inspired houses like the French Provincial and the traditional American Foursquare style.

How are they Built?

Constructing a hip roof requires precision and accuracy. The first step involves taking accurate measurements before the rafters are cut. The rafters are then fixed to the ridge board- a frame that will be secured around the roof. To build the roof, the dimensions of the hip rafter need to be calculated. The next step involves affixing the rafters, one at a time. Once the rafters have been nailed in place, they can be trimmed for a neater layout. The hip rafters then need to be connected to the standard rafters. The final step involves installing the jack rafters in between the standard and hip rafters. Metal, shingles, tiles or slates can all be used to cover a hip roof.

How long do Hip Roofs Last?

Hip roofs can last up to 50 years, provided they have been constructed properly. Their lifespan depends on the materials used on the roof as well as the quality of maintenance that they receive. Using steel shingles on a hip roof enables it to last longer. Good maintenance prevents the risks of issues like water leaks in the long run.


  • Aesthetic Appeal:

These roofs add a visually appealing structure to the house and potentially increase the property value.

  • Aerodynamic Properties:

Hip roofs have no flat sided ends that can catch the wind. They are also self-bracing and therefore well suited for hurricane-prone regions.

  • Energy Efficient:

Hip roofs are ideal for warm climates due to their ability to keep the home cool in the summer by sheltering all sides of the house. The eaves all around the roof also keep the home protected from the sun and extreme weather.

  • Reliable Drainage:

The downward sloping sides of a hip roof provide reliable drainage during heavy rainfall, storms and snowfall allowing the water or snow to easily melt and run off the roof.

  • Extra Space:<

With the addition of a rooftop window or dormer, a hip roof can provide extra living space.


  • Comparatively Expensive:

A hip roof costs more to build than a gable roof. The design of the roof is more complex and requires additional building materials as well as more effort and time, resulting in increased labor costs.

  • Risk of Leaks:

While the shape of the roof is effective at draining rainwater, it also makes it more prone to leaks. The design of the roof includes valleys and hips that can become gateways for water. It is important to invest in a good roofing contractor to minimize the risks.

Variations of Hip Roofs

Simple Hip Roofs:

A simple hip roof is the most popular hip roof style. The design involves a polygon on two sides and a triangle on the other two sides. All four sides join together at the top to form a ridge.

Half Hip:

A half-hipped roof has two sides that are shortened and form eaves.

Dutch Gable Hip:

Dutch gable hip roofs are a hybrid of a hip and gable roof system. This roof allows more internal space due to a gable that can be found at the end of a ridge in the roof.

Cross Hip Roofs:

In cross hipped roofs, the two roof sections join at their ends to create a seam or valley.

Pyramid Hip Roofs:

In a pyramid hip roof, four triangular sides of equal length meet together at the top at a single point to form a pyramid.

Mansard Roofs:

A mansard roof is one that has two varying roof angles. The lower angle is far steeper than the upper angle of the roof.

Price of Hip Roofs

Installing a new hip roof from scratch is comparatively cheaper than replacing a current roof with a hip roof. For a new home, it is important to consider the cost of roofing materials, framing as well as labor. Labor costs of an average-sized roof that measures 1,500 square feet in surface works out to be about $12,000 to $18,000. Additional materials used for framing can add $1 to $2 per square foot. For a 1,500 square foot roof, this is roughly $1,000 to $3,000.