A Quick Guide to Dormers

Dormers, what are they and why we love them.

A dormer is when a window projects vertically from an existing slanted roof in order to create more light or space in a room (usually a bedroom). Dormers are an excellent option when there is a need for extra light, space, a bathroom or even an extra closet.  In addition, since they can be added to a variety of existing roofs, they are quite a common way to add some flair to the appearance of a house.

Before deciding that a dormer is what your house is missing, know that there a few considerations you should review first. Dormers come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and costs, and all require some major demolition and construction.

Simple Gable dormers, or doghouse dormers, are the most common and typically are constructed in several rows. Shed dormers are named because they look like a shed on a roof, will maximize the amount of usable interior space. A hipped dormer is where the roof slants back as it rises and this occurs on the front of the dormer as well as on the sides. Hipped dormers are most often on houses that also have hipped roofs. The more decorative dormer styles are known as segmented and eyebrow dormers. Both styles have arched roofs and while they are typically architectural statements, they are also used to add light or headroom to upstairs spaces.

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 (Clockwise: Simple Gable, Shed, Eyebrow/segmented, Hipped)               

Some considerations to take into account before adding a dormer would be style, size, and cost of dormer:

  • Dormers require permits before construction. Depending on your town, this could be the most time-consuming part of your construction process. Permits can typically range from $200 to a few thousand dollars.
  • Do you want to add an extra window to a room or expand the attic to create more usable space? Know what size and type of dormer you want and whether it is ideal for the overall design you are working towards.
  • Keep in mind, the bigger the dormer, the bigger the cost.
    • A simple window dormer usually costs around $10,000-$15,000
    • A bathroom dormer can average around $40,000-$50,000 (including the cost of materials
    • Adding multiple new dormers can quickly add up to a total of more than $100,000

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A COR Improvements dormer project; in-progress & after. The addition created the perfect spot for this beautiful shower.

Before you head to the hardware store to start gathering supplies to DIY a dormer yourself, know that this is not an easy project. With creating a plan, obtaining the proper permits, purchasing all the necessary supplies, and finally beginning construction, dormer construction is a project we recommend be left to the pros. Keep in mind, if you’re creating a dormer with a common rafter, you’ll need to double or even triple up the rafters on either side of where the dormer will be. You’ll be cutting into two or more rafters to create the hole for the dormer so the load from the cut rafters has to be transferred to the rafters on either side. If that made your head spin, we don’t blame you! Give us a call or fill out our project questionnaire for a customized quote!

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