Q. We are planning a new house in the next year and I have been looking at some designs. I like the contemporary style look but with a taller roof pitch than normal. I have read about the benefits of having a larger overhang on the eaves for weather protection. Some houses have an 8”-12” soffit overhang with a steep roof pitch, but I like the looks of an overhang of 20”-24”. In my reading, I do not see what would be considered too far for an overhang. What do you feel is the maximum soffit width? — Chuck

A. A couple of factors help evaluate the size of your overhang. Yes, a larger overhang does provide both rain and sun protection for your walls that contain vulnerable windows and doors.

The rafter’s integrity has got to structurally support the overhang. The last thing you want is for the overhang to sag and typical production builders will simply attach a fly rafter to the gable overhang to the bottom of the roof sheeting and provide blocking which is not enough for a larger overhang.

Both the roof slope and the wall height will limit the size potential of your overhang. Normally 24” is about the maximum amount of overhang at the bottom of your roof and 18” on the gable eaves.

If the gable eaves have framing that is integrated back into the roof structure, you can have larger gable eaves.

Houses with hip roofs do not have gables or gable eaves, so the typical detail at the roof edge is the same all the way around.

Again, if the walls are standard 8’ tall and you want a steeper roof pitch, you will be limited to a smaller overhang, but that is also not typical with a contemporary style.

Jeff Deahl is past president of the Builders Association of Northeast Indiana. Questions for the Square Corners column may be submitted to jeff@craftsman-design.com.

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