Hip Roof Barn

A hip roof barn, also known as a gambrel or simply a gambrel roof, refers to a roof with two symmetrical slopes on both sides.


The lower slope is usually steeper than the upper slope. The design considerations in this type of roof make adequate provisions for maximum utilization of headspaces, living spaces and as a storage space.


So what is a hip barn roof? No one knows exactly when the use of a hip roof barn began in the United States though there is a general consensus that they have been around since the 17th century.

Evidence to this lies in the second Harvard Hall, which is believed to have been constructed in 1677. This is one of the oldest surviving structures depicting the concept of gambrel roofs in the United States.

It is; however, claimed that the original construction of gambrel roofs can be traced back to Spain, Portugal and England.

Back in the days, mariners and traders who traversed these regions before settling permanently in North America claimed to have seen such structures in the course of their travels.

They soon brought the styles and the design concepts with them when they finally settled in North America. It was from here that the British colonials adopted the style and took it back to England.

There, gambrel roofs became the preferred roofing style not only for barns, but also for large structures like churches and cathedrals.

Up to this date, gambrel roofs are synonymous to classic building styles and using it is likely to let you be portrayed as someone who enjoys authentic, original and classic designs.



If you are considering a barn hip roof construction, then you should be aware of both the good and the bad about this type of roofing system.

Indeed, it is still considered a classic design but it has more to offer other than the fact that it was used during the yester years.

Functionality, space utilization, adaptability, aesthetics and simplicity are some of the admirable benefits you will be getting by using this type of roofing system. Below is a brief explanationof the various benefits of using gambrel roofs:

Economical space utilization

The initial popularity of this kind of roofing was due to the fact that the steep lower slope made it possible to have additional headspace, which in turn enabled homes to have more space in the attic, including the possibility a guest room.

The dorm windows usually visible in gambrel roof pictures make the structures seem to have even more room.

The economical way that this type of roof maximizes on the space is through the trusses that support the roof, which allows for extra space between them as compared to the traditional rafters.

Ability to accommodate wide loads

In the olden days, hip roof barns were not appropriate for construction in places that experienced lots of winds and snow falls.

It wasn’t until construction professionals learned what is a hip barn roof, that the process took off.

The reason a hip barn roof was better with weight was due to the fact that the original gambrels were never strong, hence were prone to damages whenever there were strong winds or snow storms.

However, due to structural improvements, the modern types of gambrels are very strong and they are extremely efficient in offering storage for wide loads.

Even in the modern times, not all types of roofing systems can accommodate wide loads, hence gambrels are still preferred where very wide and large loads are concerned.

Aesthetically appealing

The symmetry of hip barn roofs is complex but it is visually appealing. It is the kind of classic beauty reminiscent of the olden Victoria structures.

Besides, gambrels are simply unique with their size and design and will always attract the attention of whoever is passing by. When neatly installed and maintained, it is really a pleasant sight to look at.

Hip roof barns are adaptable

The adaptability of the hip roof barns comes from the fact that they utilize a minimal number of frames, thus leaving a lot of options for the floor plan.

As a matter of fact, most of the hip roof barn plans won’t just include the construction of the roof alone, but also the suitable floor plans available for that kind of structure.

Hip roof barn enjoy historical heritage

There is no doubt that the hip roof barn will always portray classic looks that bring back the memories of colonial America.

The style is also associated with the Dutch, as well as the Georgian styles and all these act as reminders to the early American architecture.

Therefore, whenever you  use gambrel in your home, it will always portray a certain historical heritage that’s conspicuously lacking in most of the modern homes.

Hip roof barns are simple to frame

Unlike the other roof styles like the gables or the pyramid hip roofs, hip roof barns doesn’t require a lot of technicalities when it comes to the framing.

In every barn hip roof construction, only two rafter systems attached to the middle of the roof using a horizontal nailer forms the major requirements. With the modern designs, it becomes even simpler since gusset joints are used at the midrafters instead of the horizontal nailers.


There are also a few disadvantages about hip roof barn when you are making considerations on how to build a hip roof ban. They include the following-:

Prone to wind and snow damage

As noted earlier, these roofs were not the best in places that experienced heavy winds and snow falls. However, structural improvements and technology are offering solutions to this shortcoming.

Durability issues

The hip barn roof will maintain its functionality only when given constant care and maintenance. A little neglect might ruin it within a very short time.

Relatively high construction costs

Though the construction of gambrel roof is relatively simple compared to the other types of roofs, its normal size usually consumes more than the average amount of materials.

This will evidently increase the cost of materials, the labor cost including the man hours leading to increased cost of construction.

Though hip roof barns were present during the ancient times, they are still very relevant in the present.

Many people who appreciate conservative design strategies prefer them to the more robust and modern roofing styles. Hopefully by reading through this article you have a better idea of the answer to the question, “what is a hip barn roof?”

Last update on 2023-07-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Founder & Editor

Hi, I’m Jim. I was a roofing constructor for 20 years, before deciding to start myrooff.com and gather the best content about roofing. I love woodworking and construction and it was only natural for me to start this passion project of mine. Thank you for visitng.