swayback roof for storybook cottage...

cefosterJune 15, 2012

Hey there! I have googled this for one week now and have come up with nothing. I have also searched this forum so I would not have to bug anyone but have still not gotten any info. We plan to build a small home and I would like it to look like a cotworld cottage or storybook like. I have gone on the storybook home plan site and still have not found any construction details on how to create a swayback roof. Does anyone have any info they could pass along to me pretty please? I realize to most that swayback roofs aren't the going fad LOL....but I like them. Thank you in advance. Take care, Colleennc

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This link shows construction details of a swayback roof. It is a pdf download. The info you are looking for is on pg 2

Here is a link that might be useful: How to construct

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Are you talking about a roof like in the link below? No idea how to frame them but I think they're sometimes called "cat slide" roofs.

Here is a link that might be useful: cottage with curved roof

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Thank you both for answering....I surely appreciate it. Maybe I am not referring to the right word, but it is not a curved roof but more of an uneven roofline. You see a lot of warped looking roofs on old barns. That is the look I am trying to achieve. If anyone has any more info, I am most grateful. Again, thank you both!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 7:36PM
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You want a sagging ridge line in other words, not a curved pitch. I would imagine this could be done on a computer program to determine the different truss sizes you would need.

Depending upon your location, you may need to be concerned with uneven snow loads on the roof (?) because the forces on the roof will not be distributed as evenly and it will be a slightly concave roof.

I have also seen this worked out on conventional roofs with undulating shingle or shake patterns.

This could be a pretty pricey roof.

When Tick Hall, the house of Dick Cavett and Carrie Nye burnt, they reconstructed it (based upon old photos, and memory, there were no drawings), and they did things like shave the joists and build so "sag" into the porches and such so the house would not be a completely plumb and square, new version of their old house. They wanted the sags. It was painstaking, and I would imagine, more expensive that way.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:28PM
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oh, if you just want a sagging ridgeline, pick typical "bad builder," don't pay too much attention to him when he cuts corners on building your house and in just a few years after you get moved in you'll have one.

Just kidding. LOL!

Seriously, as far as I know, nobody creates a swayback roof on purpose. It is something that happens to houses, barns, etc., as they get older if they haven't been properly cared for. It's a sign that the house is starting the "falling down" process and needs some serious attention. What you will find are lots of people looking for advice on how to FIX sagging ridge-lines.

Even those of us who want a New Old House typically want one that looks like an older house that has been very well maintained. Not one that is on its last legs. We don't want the problems (like sagging ridge lines) that go along with buying a real old house.

So, as far as I'm concerned, you win this month's prize for the most unusual question to hit the GW forum!

Maybe you'll start a whole new style of architectural design!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Actually that's not quite true...there are a number of houses in the Storybook Style in Los Angeles and other parts of the country that were built starting in the 1920s, and there is a book on this style on Amazon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Storybook Style by Gellner and Keister

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Here is one of the more famous and fantastical ones, the Spadena House. There are more subtle storybook houses than this that just have some fanciful details, like a sagging roof.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Here is The Curious House, in Ann Arbor. A more mainstream craftsman-style with a sagged roof:

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:18PM
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the type of roof that you seek is achieved by steam-bending the underlayment and the shingles ... usually cedar ...

there is a company in lake city , fl that specialises in this type of construction ... here is their website ...


hope this helps :-)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 12:04AM
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I've thought about doing this. If you look at a typical sway back building, you'll find that the entire building sometimes sags, not just the roof. There is an antique shop here in SC that sags so bad I would be afraid to enter it! I would think all you would have to do is adjust the height of the walls to give you the look you want. The trusses would follow this line, and you would have to have siding such as clapboards follow the sag as well. It could either be plotted out on a computer, or by eye, since you don't want it too perfect anyway. To really give the illusion, you would have to make the windows a bit out of plumb as well, so that the top of the window was parallel to the sagging siding. Better make sure the sag shows on the drawings if you don't want to give the building inspector a heart attack!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:46AM
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Here are two methods to achieve the storybook style roof with a conventional ridge, and a hipped end or a curved eave. The shake roof, in "wave", "gingerbread", or "cedar thatch" pattern is probably completely conventional underneath but with a built up shingle. I have read that this takes double the number of shingles, (and probably double the money and skill, as well)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 8:58AM
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The effect in the Curious House was achieved by adding the sharper-pitched end peaks on to a conventionally-framed roof deck. The very last photo of Pal's above was in all likelihood executed by a company called Custom Cedar Solutions. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: American Thatch Roofs

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 12:20PM
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sombreuil_mongrel - my jaw dropped with that link! That's a full day of picture viewing ahead - what a fascinating site - thanks.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Thank you all for answering and helping me. I thought the same....just have a builder that doens't know what he/she is doing lol. I like the idea of staggering my shakes in a way that may be able to look like the roof is a little "not quite straight". That will definitely be a better option for the final inspection hopefully! I am so grateful for you all! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:23AM
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