Types Of Dormers In A Dormer House

A dormer house offers many benefits both practically and aesthetically. But that doesn’t mean that they are for you. It can be hard to decide if you want one. Especially, if you don’t know what kind of dormer house you like.

We will fill in the gaps and let you in on a few secrets. But first, let’s go over what a dormer house is and why people want to build them. After all, dormers have a long history, but maybe not as long as you think. 

What Is A Dormer House?

dormer house
Via KJAArchitects

A dormer house is a house with dormers built into the roof. A dormer is a roofed structure that almost always contains a window. This structure is attached to the roof and is generally part of the roof. 

Dormer windows aren’t as old as other types of windows because they require more materials to make. In fact, the first real dormers appeared in gothic architecture, the period that started in the 12th century. 

Today, most dormer houses don’t feature the types of dormers seen in early gothic architecture. Instead, there are an array of dormers, most of them simple and square. They add personality to an otherwise basic house.  

Types Of Dormers

Via Encore Construction

There are dozens of types of dormers. Some are hardly dormers, despite their name. Others are quite standard, being used on sheds and small buildings. However, these are the most common types of dormers across the world. 

Gable Dormer

The gable dormer is probably the most common type of dormer. It has a pitched triangular roof that extends from the original roof. It also has three walls, the front usually having a window installed in it. 

Hip Roof Dormer

A hipped roof dormer has a roof slope on three sides, rather than two like a standard gabled dormer. It has the two slopes like the gabled dormer with one extra slope coming down the front to protect the window from rain. 

Bonnet Dormer

A bonnet dormer has a curved roof and two walls coming down each side. The top is like a soft arch and each wall is vertical. The ends don’t curve to meet the roof. They add a cottage look to a dormer window in a dormer house. 

Nantucket Dormer

A Nantucket dormer consists of two dormers connected by a middle dormer. The end dormers are usually standard gable dormers with the center that looks like a connecting hallway. This type of dormer adds a lot of space. 

Lucarne Dormer

Lucarne dormers are quite rare, so it’s a treat to see one. They are steep-pitched dormers that you can find in cathedrals and gothic architecture. They usually protrude from the original roof greatly.

Flat Dormer

Flat dormers are fairly self-explanatory. They are flat on top with no pitch or slope. Because there is no natural drainage, they need to be made differently. But this is nothing new, as flat roofs follow different rules. 

Shed Dormer

Via Sears Architects

A shed dormer is similar to a flat dormer. The only difference is that it is slightly sloped to allow drainage. It is recommended to use shed dormers over flat dormers to avoid water or snow from building up. 

Wall Dormer

This dormer is a continuation of the wall and looks quite different than other dormers. It has two sloped roofs and two walls added to fill the gaps. This type of dormer is easy to add during construction.

Flared Gable Dormer

A flared gable dormer is just like a gable dormer only the ends of the roof flare out to add an adorable eclectic touch. The effect makes the dormers look pliable and flowy, like a skirt spinning or curtain flowing in the wind. 

Pedimented Dormer

A pedimented dormer is a dormer that extends beyond the roof and is not supported by the roof. Instead, it has to be supported by walls or pillars below. They are usually exterior dormers and don’t add space inside. 

Eyebrow Dormer

Via Asher Slaunwhite Construction

Eyebrow dormers are one of the most unique types of dormers. They curve like an eye and look like eyes peeking out from under the rooftop. Find out more about eyebrow window dormers with this informative piece

Pyramidal Dormer

Pyramidal dormers are a type of hipped roof dormers. They extend backward and the roof of them looks just like an Egyptian pyramid. This adds an entirely new culture and geometric design to a dormer house. 

Link Dormer

This dormer is the only type of dormer that doesn’t need a window. It is used to link areas of the house together and is called a dormer due to the convex shape of the area. It is usually added to house a chimney safely. 

Recessed Dormer

The name of this one explains what it looks like. A recessed dormer is a concave dormer. These dormers have walls that are beneath the slope of the roof. They are designed for large windows to be added, or in some cases, a deck. 

Polygonal Dormer

Polygonal dormers look out from three or more sides, having at least five walls. They add a modern twist to the classic dormer and a great view of the property. These dormers look like half towers coming from the side of a house. 

Blind Dormer

A blind dormer is simply a false dormer that looks like a real dormer. This type of dormer isn’t accessible and instead only offers a nice aesthetic from the outside. They are built onto the roof rather than into it. 

Reasons For Dormers

Via Brian David Peters

There are many reasons that people decide to add dormers to their house or build a dormer house. Some people like the look of them and choose a blind dormer, while others are more practical and choose to optimize their dormers. 

  • Extra Space – one of the main reasons that dormers are added is to add space. You can easily add both ceiling and floor space with dormers. It can add space for a bed, window seat, or even just storage. 
  • Better Lighting – because upper levels tend to lack natural light, dormers can be added with windows to add light. This is especially useful in attics that don’t have any windows at all to add light. 
  • Curb Appeal – this is probably the most common reason to add dormers. People want their house to look good when driving by. They want to feel good about coming home to their home, and dormers can add a lot. 
  • Value – dormers can add more value than you think. The return profit is substantial and they can make a house appear much nicer than it actually is. People love nooks and crannies, especially when those areas have personality. 
  • Safety Exit – in most states, it’s illegal to not have windows in each room, or at least on each floor. Not only do dormers add an exit, but they let you step out onto the roof, having a safer descent to safety. 
  • Ventilation – dormers were originally added to old buildings for ventilation. That’s why sometimes they were small slits rather than usable space. Upper floors can get hot and stuffy, dormers can help with that. 
  • Transform An Attic – attics aren’t just for storage anymore. They can be used as bedrooms, guest rooms, or another usable room. But what is a room without a window or head space? Dormers are perfect for transforming an attic. 

Cost Of A Dormer House

You can’t guarantee that there will be a house on the market that has dormers. So, most people set on dormers are building their own house. This way, you have complete control over the type of dormer house that you get.

The average cost of building your own house is $150/sqft. So, before calculating the cost of dormers, you need to calculate the cost of a house in general. Find out more about the cost of building a house here

You see, adding dormers doesn’t reduce the cost any, but adds to the cost. So after figuring the cost of building your house, you need to figure the cost of the dormers themselves and the labor that you’ll have to pay for. 

Cost To Add Dormers

The third option is to add dormers to an already existing house. The cost of these dormers depends on the type of dormers you add to create your dormer house. Here is a breakdown of the cost of dormers in 2020

The cost of having professionals install dormers for you is between $2,500 and $20,000 on average. This translates into $115 per square foot. You see, the largest, nicest dormers can cost up to $100,000. That said, the simplest dormers can cost under $2000.

Should I Get A Dormer House?

This all depends on your priorities. If your priority is to save time and money, then cut dormers out of your plans. If your priority is to add space and an open aesthetic, then a dormer house is just what you need. 

Lastly, if you are into gothic architecture, a dormer house can let you feel like you live in that period. Especially if you choose a more obscure type of dormer. Whatever you choose, make sure it fits you and your lifestyle.