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LOOKOUT!- Adding overhangs

Andrew_Kirk's picture

Outrigger is the term used here.

I believe "verge" rafter is the most architecturally correct (AC?) term for that rafter out on the edge. It is sometimes called a "varge" rafter, which suggests a corruption from verge to varge and thence to barge. Barges, having no roofs, have no rafters.

Similarly, furring strips were once called fairing strips. And now frieze blocks are being referred to as freeze blocks, or even freezer blocks.

But that's how language evolves. No "correct" name for a thing, just current usage. (Any fans of S.I. Hayakawa out there?)

(post #176603, reply #19 of 33)


Sorry pal, I don't know how to say this without seeming like
a dink, but Kevin already ruled out doing it the low budget,
saggy way you mentioned. I think he is committing this job
to include a new roof anyway, so pulling back some sheathing
and getting down to solid framing allows easy access to
building the overhang properly as mentioned by Joe and Skip
in the posts above.

Kevin, I would not recommend laying any lookouts flat.

Hope to help, not hurt. Damn I'm sensitive today. I better
go hit my thumb with a hammer or something.

(post #176603, reply #24 of 33)


No problem, I do that too! I have made much bigger
mistakes, right Adrian? (heh heh.)

It is a good question, "how much overhang does he want,"
kind of does matter. I figured he wanted to bring it out a
fair amount, say more than 12", because if I was going to
take on this much work, I'd want to see some real results.
Also, he mentioned that he wanted to match the eaves
overhang, and I still go with the assumption that it would
be significantly more.


(post #176603, reply #31 of 33)

When my house was built, sometime in the later 40's, the builder or rather the assembler, as the original structure appears to be a kit house, neglected to build gable overhangs. Now as a component of the roofing project I want to add gable overhangs to match the eave overhangs. I am thinking of notching out the gable rafter and setting 2x6 lookouts flat to support a barge. I am reluctant to rely on a 2x laid flat but don't want to bother with, or possibly compromise the structure by cutting all the way through the rafter in several spots to install the overhangs as I would with a dropped gable truss. And don't even suggest a ladder spiked to the gable. I've seen too many droopy gables as a result.

Unless somebody has a better way or advice on which would be better I'll most likely flip a coin, that is if I have any change left after paying for the shingles, geez that stuff got expensive all of a sudden.


(post #176603, reply #1 of 33)


A series of 2x4s laid flat and notched into the existing rafter will be plenty strong enough for your fly rafter. I would space them at 2 ft. intervals, but if you believe in overkill go 16" OC. You can let the ends run wild, and after all are in place, mark the top and bottom 2x4s, snap a line, cut off the ends, and you'll have a perfectly strait
line for your rafter. You can add 2x6 stiffbacks to every second or third 2x4 to keep your fly rafter plumb.

Hope this helps,


P.S.- I am assuming you plan to carry the 2x4s back to the first rafter inside the wall and nail off to that, creating a cantilever.

(post #176603, reply #2 of 33)

Make sure that it doesn't droop! Most all the rake overhangs I see do, though most people don't notice. 4x4 brackets may help, though they tend to be rot magnets theselves.

You might get a stiffer structure by boxing the overhang, running 2x4 or 6 on edge back to the verge rafter and enclosing it with plywood. The box should give better rigidity. I'd like to do something like this, I hope more people respond.

(post #176603, reply #3 of 33)


I have raised many old drooping overhangs using that method. It is very strong. One house was a bungalow, with brackets that were rotted. I took out the brackets, raised the overhang, and the homeowner was going to rebuild the brackets himself. It's been 15 years, he never got around to the brackets, and the overhang hasn't sagged a bit!


(post #176603, reply #4 of 33)


What JRS described is a standard construction practice around here. Most of the time the barge rafter (or barge board)is a 2x4 or 2x6 with wider 1x facia. A 2x2 is run on the gable face in the same plane as the barge rafter and soffit is nailed on to both. staying on 16" or 24" centers provides support for the sheathing at breaks. 2x4 fly rafters should be fine. I don't think 2x6 strong backs are necessary but if you use them you must use a 2x6 barge rafter. If you are concerned about strength and sag upgrade to a 2x6. The key to a good gable eave is a straight barge rafter. Use picked boards and string lines and take your time. Try to get material long enough so that you can make your barge rafter out of one board. If you can not then place your joint at a fly rafter. One thing that does concern me is sheating. In new construction, sheathing extends over the edge of the gable to from the eave. I suspect your 1940 era house is decked with boards. Unless you cut back some of your sheating and substitute longer boards your add-on will not be as strong as new construction. If you deck the gable eave with sheet goods insure that your new material is the same thickness as the old. If not, you will most certainly see a line where the new and old join after the shingles settle in.

Good luck,


(post #176603, reply #5 of 33)


"verge rafter" hummm... haven't heard that term. Interesting.


Trivia question:

Do you call the 2x4s that JRS described in his first post:

a) lookouts

b) outlooks

c) outriggers

d) twisted HD cr*p good only for firewood

e) something else

(post #176603, reply #6 of 33)

Rip off the existing gable rafter, tear the ridge back a rafter or two, ditto the top plates. Lay a 2x 4 flat to act as a plate at the gable. Use lookouts one size down from the dimension of the rafter You've removed out as far as you like. reattach the rafter. Of course You will use sheathing of the same thickness--This is Fine Homebuilding. A verge rafter? Is that from the French? Celtic? Teutonic? Help me out Andrew I'm going to My Audels.Good Luck Kev.

(post #176603, reply #7 of 33)



You know what they say. . . A picture is worth a thousand woods.

Joseph Fusco

Fusco & Verga Construction Co., Inc.

(post #176603, reply #8 of 33)

We always run the ridge on out(notching down to 31/2") and set a rafter at the gable end instead of the 2x4 flat shown in the drawing. Course this only leaves 1 1/2 bearing for your gable studs. Also ive never seen anyone double the rafter that the lookouts nail to. Looks like a toe nail job or this rafter would have to be placed after the lookouts are nailed to the first rafter. I bet by doubling it though its a heck of a lot easier to keep straight and a lot less knocking and gaping on the lookouts where they join the barge rafter.

P.S.....what holds the end of the ridge up as it is not bearing on the gable you put in a support near the end?

(post #176603, reply #9 of 33)

Outrigger is the term used here.

I believe "verge" rafter is the most architecturally correct (AC?) term for that rafter out on the edge. It is sometimes called a "varge" rafter, which suggests a corruption from verge to varge and thence to barge. Barges, having no roofs, have no rafters.

Similarly, furring strips were once called fairing strips. And now frieze blocks are being referred to as freeze blocks, or even freezer blocks.

But that's how language evolves. No "correct" name for a thing, just current usage. (Any fans of S.I. Hayakawa out there?)

(post #176603, reply #10 of 33)



The assumption is that the ridge runs "long" and is cut flush with the gable end. The picture doesn't show this, put I thought it as a given.
This picture is also for "full" width outlooks (the same size as the rafters). If your going to shorten the lookouts up (say to 2x4 or 2x6) then running the "last" common rafter flush with the outside edge of the gable wall is fine. Then you would just notch from the top of the ridge down to accommodate the width of the "fly rafter."
P.S. The picture shows a "premium" way of framing the gable end. There are others ways that it can and is done. Whatever gets the job done is fine with me!
Joseph Fusco

(post #176603, reply #11 of 33)

Verge = gable rafter (if any). No, I have no idea where i got that from. Maybe I made it up.

Now guys, I think the poster was hoping for a little less surgery for this retrofit. Is there a middle ground?

P.S. Oh yeah, that's it, I was just being "architecturally correct." That's me, more academic than practical.

(post #176603, reply #12 of 33)

Interesting detail. Would the joist hangers be better installed inverted?

(post #176603, reply #13 of 33)


You could. . . if you thought you'd be improving things but, I've never did it and don't know any who have. I'm sure your concern is the that you believe the gable end would tend to "rotate" or be forced down under a load of snow.
Joseph Fusco

(post #176603, reply #14 of 33)

Yeah, though I guess the snow, and the structure itself would tend to balance rather than create uplift. I was picturing a plump roofer dancing out on the barge, actually.

(post #176603, reply #15 of 33)

How much of an overhang do you need? If it is small enough, you could build a ladder and face nail or deck screw it to th gable end. The sheathing will strengthen the connection if it overlaps to the origional rafters.

(post #176603, reply #16 of 33)

outlookers. They are used on about 90% of the houses built here in Western Washington. But we don't get much snow, and I have always believed the fascia was an important part of keeping them from sagging too. - jb

(post #176603, reply #17 of 33)

nope, I have heard "verge" used many times through the years (but I always thought it was "virge") and I think it's interchangable with "fly rafter" or "barge board" or "barge rafter".

I think the fine distinctions come when you're talkin the difference between a building with or without an overhang.

And by the way, I don't understand why ANY building would fail to have overhangs, unless it is a setback consideration. They provide tremendous protection. - jb

(post #176603, reply #18 of 33)

"plump roofer"? Man, those guys work way too hard to get too plump! That is one tough profession. - jb

The best way to install "outriggers" on your house (post #176603, reply #33 of 33)

Hi Kevin

Take it from a guy who has spent about half of his entire 30 plus years in construction building roofs. I have seen every possible method for doing gable overhangs. You never want to cut through the gable rafter entirely, instead you would create a notch in the rafter on top to "let in" a 2 x 4  outrigger laid flat and if its laid out with one of these occurring every 4 ft up the entire lenghth of the rafter and they must project back into the attic to the 2nd rafter and nailed with 2 well placed 16d . You can let that project outward up to 2 ft and if everything is assembled properly you will never have to worry about it sagging over time.

(post #176603, reply #20 of 33)

Mad Dog,

Sorry that I missed ruling out the ladder method in this thread, must have hit my thumb with a hammer or something!!

Even in new construction I often use the ladders if the overhang is under 12" especially if I am framing with TJIs (which is most of the time).

Ron S

(post #176603, reply #21 of 33)

OK -- how about a couple of plumbers putting in a vent stack?

(post #176603, reply #22 of 33)


(post #176603, reply #23 of 33)

SNOW....what the heck is that?????? here in louisiana we worry about alligators crawling off a cypress tree onto the roof making the barge rafters sag......

(post #176603, reply #25 of 33)

What happened to kevin, anyway?

(post #176603, reply #26 of 33)

Kevin probably went back to work.

Here's a quote from the Ontario code.

> "Roofs which project less than 16" over the gable end wall usually terminate with a framing member sometimes called the
i rake rafter.

> " A 3/4 " nailing strip is fastened to the rafter located above the gable end wall. Blocking (on edge) spaced @24"o.c. is used to support the soffit covering. A rafter header supports the heel of the rake rafter & the ridge runs long to support the top."

The roof sheathing detail is also important, as no vertical joints should come anywhere near the overhang. I realize that he has said he does not want to install ladders but for less than 16", full lookout detailing seems overkill!!! As noted above, tight blocking & plywood covered soffits would add all the strength required to prevent sagging!!!

Around here we use the term fly rafter.
i Verge
dates from my old man's time.

(post #176603, reply #27 of 33)

We call it a FLY rafter here also. We use the term Barge rafter for a similar rafter(FLY) on a shed type dormer.

(post #176603, reply #28 of 33)

Here are my thoughts:

1. Why not use a 4x4 and punch it through the siding between a couple wall studs, and frame it solid? You would only replace the last 2 feet of siding/shingles on the wall, and would provide a great support for a Rake Rafter (a 2x8)?

2. Use brackets. Get some 2x4 and 4x4 stock, and fashion some triangular decorative brackets to hold up the Rake Rafter? Make them on a bandsaw, and they will look terrific!

2. I love overhangs. They really serve a good function, by preventing water damage to window casings and exterior doors. They also prevent foundation damage. The longer the overhang the better.