Frame a Classic Shed Dormer
If you start with a full-scale layout on the subfloor and plan for the finished details, the framing is relatively painless.
Synopsis: Shed dormers might not offer the same visual appeal as doghouse dormers, but for Rhode Island builder John Spier, they are a classic way to add the most bang for the buck. Spier’s technique for building a shed dormer begins with using the subfloor as a big set of blueprints; this process helps to speed and clarify the construction of the dormer. Spier says that the best shed dormers are practical and pleasing to the eye. Shed-dormer design needs to consider three crucial components: roof pitch, overhangs and header heights, and windows and trim.
Of all the ways to bump out a roof, I think shed dormers offer the most bang for the buck. They’re easy to build, are simple to finish, and provide lots of usable interior space. So why aren’t all dormers sheds? Compared to doghouse, eyebrow, or A-frame dormers, shed dormers aren’t always the prettiest option. On the back side of a house, though, beauty sometimes needs to take a backseat to utility. Besides, with some attention to size, shape, and proportion, a shed dormer can actually look pretty good.
Unfortunately, many builders don’t take the time to think about the details before they get started working on a shed-dormer project. Many years of building have taught me that if I spend a little extra time planning a shed dormer, then I spend a lot less time trying to make a bunch of mistakes look good later.
There are as many ways to frame shed dormers as there are ways to design them. The dormer featured here doesn’t peak at the ridge the way that many shed dormers do, but the lessons here can be applied to shed dormers of all kinds, new construction or remodel.
Whenever possible, I take…