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2nd Floor Addition Roof Overhang Question

UkeJoe's picture

I am designing a second story addition to a Prairie style single family residence. The exisiting first floor has a 4' roof overhang. In keeping with the look of the existing, my second floor addition roof will also have a large roof overhang. The existing first floor roof has gutters and downspouts.

What are the pros and cons, aside from the aesthetics, of the addition overhang being 4' or 3'?

What are the pros and cons of gutters and downspouts on the addition roof with a 4' or 3' overhang?

My instincts say 4' overhang, no gutter and downspouts. But, then I like to have my instincts tweaked by good input from those in the trades.

There is a con to having (post #207290, reply #1 of 8)

There is a con to having gutters and downspouts?

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I'm not against gutters and (post #207290, reply #2 of 8)

I'm not against gutters and downspouts in general. However, I have seen that the bigger the roof overhang the more unsightly the downspout return is from the gutter at the overhang edge due to the slope put on the horizontal section before it turns back to a vertical drop at the wall.

I've never liked second floor downspouts discharging onto the sloped first floor roof below.

Clogged gutters at that elevation as not an issue if the correct anti-leaf clogging gutter system is used.

con to gutters? (post #207290, reply #3 of 8)

Of course there is.  I hate them!

You can't lean a ladder against them.  They dent and break.  They can pull away from teh house.  They fill with leaves and debris,  They fill up with ice.  They are ripped off by sliding snow.  Should I continue?


Uke (post #207290, reply #4 of 8)

Larger (than those minimal overhangs and returns) overhangs provide shade in the summer-not a bad thing at all if the home is set up to use all methods of climate control available.

Gutters, no problem with not having them.  Water directed to drain at the ground does the same thing, tho splashback should be considered and dealt with.

We've no gutters, put our collection money into the ground and for the last 23 yrs have lived dry in a built in the hillside 2 story.  No leaf cleaning nor those gutter covers that really never seem to work as advertised.

I would think you could figure a way to return to the sidewall of the house quicker than with the store bought 45 returns.  Perhaps using round downspout offers more options.  The gutters run nearly flat a whole lot longer than a couple foot return.

Best of luck on this project.

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If you don't have gutters you (post #207290, reply #5 of 8)

If you don't have gutters you need some sort of "treatment" (a gravel bed, eg) on the ground below, at least in many parts of the country.  Around here, without gutters you end up with gullies below the eaves within a year or two.

"Prairie style" encompasses a number of variations.  On some a gutter-like treatment is a part of "the look".  The style also sometimes offers opportunities to conceal the gutter returns with brackets and other architectural features.

As to the issue of 4' vs 3', the greater the overhang the more complex the roof structure gets, in order to support the overhang.  But the difference between 3' and 4' is not that great, unless you're in heavy snow country.

(But one thing to remember is that the larger overhang will be non-trivially more expensive, just due to the additional roof area.)

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Climate (post #207290, reply #6 of 8)

Gutters are largely climate dependant.  Drier/snowy areas call for no gutter, rain, rain, rain calls for gutters..  Where are you located??  Rain falling from a second story can cause trenching, as noted above.  Have you looked into a "rain-chain", which direct the water from the upper gutter to the lower gutter, without the unsightly downspout.  Give them a google!

Gary- Research and Development


Note that we live in southern (post #207290, reply #7 of 8)

Note that we live in southern Minnesota, where there's snow on the roof about 3 months out of the year (or at least used to be -- the weather seems to be changing).  Virtually all homes have gutters and without them would have serious erosion problems.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Assuming the eaves detail is (post #207290, reply #8 of 8)

Assuming the eaves detail is a boxed then why not  run the down spouts within the eaves. I know there are other potential challnges in doing this however, it at least gives you the opportunity to control the water without an ugly large down spout returning to the wall.

With no gutters, you can deal with any acoustic challenges of rain water hitting lower roofs and errosion to the impact zone on the ground as has been pointed out. Unfortaunely, the style of house is asking to have gutters.

Mario Matassa

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