Mar. 21 2024

How to decide if dormers are right for your home

by Haley Carroll

Many of the historic residential homes in Seattle are craftsman bungalows or Tudor style, which means there are many pitched roofs in the area. While these architectural styles are incredibly charming, the slanted roofs mean you often lose out on headspace or the most use from your square footage in the upper stories of the home.  

If you want to expand a room restricted by a sloped ceiling or if you’re looking for greater light to come into the area, installing a dormer (or multiple dormers) could give you the headroom and illumination your home needs.  

Dormers are often installed when adding a bathroom to a home, or they are leveraged to make a bedroom or office space more usable. If you’re looking to add more space in your upper story remodel, dormers may be the perfect solution.  

What are dormers?

Larger dormers

A dormer is a roofed structure that extends upward vertically from the plane of a pitched roof. They often have windows and can come in many different shapes and styles. The purpose of dormers is to increase the amount of usable space in the area or create window openings.  

Dormers have been a part of Western architecture for centuries, with the word stemming from the Latin word “dormitory,” meaning “room for sleeping.” 

What are the benefits of dormers? 

More space. Depending on the size of the dormer you choose and how many you’d like to install, you’ll enjoy anywhere from a few extra feet of headroom to multiple square feet added to your current space. People often use dormers to turn attics into bedrooms, offices, bonus rooms, etc.  

More light. Depending on the style of dormer you install and the size and number of its windows, dormers will allow more natural light to flow into the space, potentially brightening up an area once dim and cramped. The window will allow for greater ventilation as well.  

Added value. With all the benefits described above, dormers will increase the value of your home, making them a wise investment when considering resale value for your home.  

Improved design aesthetic. Dormers can be an attractive addition on many roofs, breaking up a solid area and adding interest to the exterior of your home.  

Pro Tip

Adding a dormer will draw more attention to your roof. If you want it to look as attractive as possible, it’s a good idea to get your roof cleaned and take care of any repairs you’ve been meaning to do while you are installing the dormer.


See also: The 5 Questions You Must Ask When Selecting Your Perfect Remodeler  

What type of dormer is right for me? 

Shed Dormer 

Shed dormerThree vertical walls extend up from the house’s roof to create a shed dormer, with its roof slanting the same direction as the roof it extends from. They often span wider horizontally to open up a greater portion of the home. This style of dormer fits well with craftsman homes.  

Flared Gable Dormer 

Flared Gable

On these dormers, three vertical walls are topped by a roof that slopes downward on either side. What makes these dormers “flared” is the roof extends past the windows, offering those windows greater shade. This helps when the dormer is placed on a sunny side of the home. Gabled formers are stylistically compatible with Tudor and craftsman houses.  

What should I consider before installing a dormer? 

Before adding dormers into your design plan, here are a few questions you need to ask.   

Is it compatible with your roofing system? 

Consider the architecture and material of your current roof. Does your roof have a steep enough pitch for a dormer? Will a dormer add to your home’s curb appeal and blend in naturally with the design style of the exterior? Or will it look misplaced, or too large? Experts caution that a disproportionately large dormer will decrease a house's appeal and value.  

Pro Tip

Hiring a design build firm like Innovative Home Renovations will give you access to an expert team that will help you assess if dormers are right for your home and incorporate them into your design plan. They will also be able to oversee the flawless installation of your dormers, ensuring the end results meets your intended goals. 


See also: How To Upgrade your Seattle Home Without Taking Away it's Natural Character  

Is it in your budget? 

Dormers can be an attractive alternative to adding an additional story onto your home because they are significantly less expensive. 

However, dormers are still a significant modification to your home and involve the following: framing, roofing, exterior (siding), windows, electrical, insulation, cover, flooring, finish carpentry, painters, and plumbing (for dormers that include bathrooms). With all the steps that dormers require, you’ll likely need several subcontractors on site to complete installation.  

The amount of skill and work required to complete a dormer, as well as the cost of the materials themselves, make them a costly, yet valuable, project. The larger the dormer is, the higher its cost will be.  

Pro Tip

In the state of Washington, a structural engineer is required by law to verify that the home can bear the weight of the additional dormer. Follow all your state’s regulations when remodeling your home.  


See also: How to Avoid Blowing Your Budget on Your New Kitchen Remodel 

Next time you’re walking through your neighborhood, look at the upper stories of the homes around you. Can you spot where dormers have been added to those houses? 

Ready to add space, light, and value to your home? 

Whether it’s through dormers, bump outs, or reimagining your space in a different way, Innovative Home Renovations has the design expertise and the skill to turn any room into a more functional, brighter, and more attractive area.  

Working with you to hone your unique design style into a finished space that suits you and your needs is just part of what we do as a design-build firm. We are committed to creating a superior client experience that keeps them in control, educated, and empowered throughout their remodel. 

If you’d like to learn more about all the ways Innovative Home Renovations can transform your home, contact a project manager to get started.  

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