If you are considering adding a dormer to your home, there are several architectural styles to choose from. Let’s look at the pros and cons, the cost of installing a dormer, and the different types of dormers you can choose.

What is Dormer?

A skylight is an architectural window element that appears to emerge from your roof. They can blend in with the rest of the house or stand out, depending on how you frame them and whether you cover them with the same material as the rest of the roof.

It is interesting that the word “attic” comes from a dormitory. The first attics were built to enlarge the upper floor of a house to make room for servants or more children than the master bedroom could hold.

Why add Dormer?

Attic rooms give the house visual appeal and practical function.

Add more natural light

The first reason is to let in more light. If you have bedrooms or an attic on the top floor, you can make these spaces more open and light by transforming the attic rooms.

Add an additional number

Because rooms “stick out” above the roof, they can create a niche in the wall of your room. Many people use this space as a windowsill, bed, play area or desk.

Enjoy the view

The higher up you are, the better the viewing position. If you have a room upstairs, you can install a skylight so you can look out and see the landscape. This is a particularly strong selling point for large properties that have fields, a pond or wooded areas.


Like any window, you can use a skylight as an emergency exit in case of fire. In this case, the advantage of a skylight is that one can go out the window to the roof and then find a way down.

Visual appeal

And of course, your home will look more interesting in the dorms. Not only will you appreciate the sight of the rooms, but it is an architectural feature that pays for itself by increasing resale value. It distinguishes the house from those with simpler architecture.

Some people like the look of the dormitories so much that they turn them into what are called blind dormitories. They don’t actually open any usable rooms in the house. They may not even open a room. They are false exterior windows that have no function other than to look good from the outside.

Why not build an attic?

Adding a dormer will increase the cost of building or renovating your home. In general, it is more cost-effective to add a dormer when a new structure is built. At that time, the dormer structure is included in the roof plans. Adding one after the fact requires a minor modification to the roof structure and interior wall space.

You can also add a blind skylight to the exterior. This is the cheapest option, but again you do not get most of the benefits of a skylight. The cost advantage, however, is that you don’t have to change the roof structure. You can just stack it on the roof and install it in place.

But in addition to cost, there are other considerations besides the initial investment.


The one maintenance issue to keep in mind is that every time you add something to your roof, you increase the chance of leaks. It is much easier to create leaks around the forming joints that protrude from your roof than it is with a straight pitch. Check the joints and roofing materials around your skylight once a year.

It may not be possible to add a skylight.

Not all pitched roofs have room for an actual skylight. If you have an attic or an open roof above the ceiling, you can easily install a skylight. However, if you have a pitched roof that needs a lot of structural support, trusses tend to make installing a dormer difficult.

You can install a blind skylight to make the exterior attractive, but you can’t take advantage of the extra window in your home.

If you are unsure of the design of your roof, ask a contractor or roofer if it is possible to add a dormer to your existing roof.

No energy efficiency

You lose more heat through glass windows than through the walls or roof. That’s why, when you touch a window in your home in cold weather, the window is colder than the wall next to it. If you live in an area with a cold climate or a pronounced winter season, installing a skylight will increase your heating bill and make a room with a skylight colder.

There are ways to better insulate skylights, but this often means covering the window with a more insulating material and reopening it in warm weather. Even double- and triple-glazed windows are only partially sufficient to insulate a skylight.

Pay attention to the design!

One more warning about the installation of dormers: they do not fit all building styles. For example, if you have a very simple house with a flat roof, a dormer would be out of place.

Dormers can be unsightly, even in more elegant homes, if the skylight is too large or too small. You want to make sure that the dormers are proportionate to the side of the house where they will be, and also to the shape and size of the roof.

In most cases (with the exception of saltbox roofs and similar roof shapes), dormers should be placed symmetrically on the house. You can have one in the middle or several scattered around the house in mirror form.

Note: It is not necessary for the attic to coincide with another attic. Perhaps one side of your house has a dormer, while the other side has a chimney or different slopes. Either way, the goal is to balance the architectural interests on both sides of the house so that one side has no added elements and the other side remains simple.

Types of skylights

Now that we understand why you want a skylight, let’s move on to your style choices. Remember that most of the differences between these styles are only visual.

1. dormer on a gable roof

As with roofs in general, the gable roof design is one of the most popular, recognizable by the ridge roof. As a dormer, it has very large windows and can provide a lot of living space in the upstairs room.

2. flared dormer

The gable roof style is a roof window with a gable roof that extends along the sides of the dormer. This provides more shade in areas that receive a lot of sunlight. This type of skylight is more aesthetic and discreet than translucent.

3. skylight

This type of skylight has three slopes on the roof. They can be larger or smaller depending on the proportions of your home.

4. curved overhead light

They are also called barrel-shaped dormitories and derive their name from their round roof. They are generally smaller than other types of dormitories and therefore do not provide as much living space in the house. They let in extra light and add style to the exterior of the house.

5. Eyebrow skylight

The tops of these rooms are also round, but are lower in height than the vaulted rooms. They have no vertical wall space. They work well on low pitched roofs to give a little more light, but they don’t add useful interior space.

6. roof window with flat roof

These skylights add space to the room and allow for large windows, but they are not as attractive as the curved options. There is also the risk of snow falling on a flat roof, which can cause structural damage and leaks.

7. skylight on the roof of the barn

A wise choice compared to the flat mansard roof style. This model has a sloping roof, allowing rain and snow to fall on the main roof.

8. skylight on the roof

This type of dormer extends to the edge of the main roof. Why is that? To create more space inside!

9. dormer with recessed roof

Also called recessed rooms, they have a flat area under the window. They also serve as fire escapes, but water collecting on this flat surface can be a problem. Just make sure the edge of the window is well above the floor of the exit to prevent leaks. They can have any type of roof and be larger or smaller, depending on your needs. A distinguishing feature is the flat area behind the window.

10. Pyramidal skylight

This type of dormer looks like a pyramid protruding from the roof with windows on the three outer sides. It allows more light to pass through and is great for interior gardens.

11. Polygonal dormer

If you need even more light, try a polygonal skylight. It has windows on five outer sides.

12. gable end dormer

The least common true dormer is the gable roof dormer. It extends beyond the roof of the house and is supported by additional columns. It is usually used to bring more light into the large entry space of a house, not to create additional living space above.

Bonus : Loft of the Blind

Also known as false skylight, it is a type of skylight that does not actually open from the inside. Many people install them in their homes to achieve the aesthetics of a skylight. Available in all sizes and shapes, the cost can range from $2,000 to $6,000.

Types of messages:

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to build an attic in a house?

Professional installation of skylights typically costs between $2,500 and $20,000, or about $115 per square foot. There are several options for skylight installations, including shed, flat, gable and breech. Smaller projects, such as skylight installation, cost about $4,000.

What kind of house is this with dormitories?

Exterior attics can define certain home styles – neo-colonial and colonial, stick, castle, Second Empire and American Foursquare – all of which generally incorporate an attic into their design.

How much are the fake student houses worth?

Gable dormers cost between $3,000 and $11,500, depending on their size and complexity. Dormer costs range from $5,500 for a 12-foot dormer to $11,500 for a 30-foot dormer. Pitched roof dormers can cost between $4,000 and $15,000, depending on their use and size.

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