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Roof mean height


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By Laura in Central, WA on 3/12/2007


Hi, I'm trying to decide on plans for my OB house and was told by the planning dept that the maximun roof height I can build is 25 feet but explained it as the "mean roof height."  Several different people have explained to me how to calculate this however everyone's explanation seems to be different.  Do you measure height of the house from ground (40') and height from ground to bottom of eves?  The house I'm looking at has several different eve heights.  The highest eve height hangs down to just below the ceiling of the second floor (about 18'?) add those together and divide by two? If this is correct that would put the mean height at 28'.  Is that the way it's calculated?  The planner was no help and didn't have the time to answer my Q's.   I really like the plans but don't want to fork over $1200 for a plan I can't use, thank you so much! 
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/12/2007


The only people who can give you an exact ruling is your local zoning person, I would make an appoint to speak to someone and then get them to commit to paper their explanation. Because the next person you talk to may have a different interpretation.

Generally they take the average height of a gable end as the "wall height".  Or they may use 2/3 of gable height or a measure at a point that is 1/3 the distance from the lower edge towards the center. Your maximum height and roof slope may influence their decision. I have had all of these definitions thrown at me.

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By Mark in Seattle, WA on 3/12/2007


Also ask your local planning department for a code citation.  You can tell them it's for your out-of-the-area architect.  A citation keeps them on their toes. 

I  used mean roof height for calculating wind load on my OB project, but haven't seen this used for a straight height limitation.

In our jurisdiction, roof height means the height of the ridgeline above grade.  My neighbor skirted this idea by building a three story house that marches up a hill.  No individual section of the house violates the height requirement, even though the individual floors have 12' ceilings.  Viewed from the water (from miles around), its a 3 story 50' tall McMansion in a zone that only allows 30' heights.

Mark


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By Laura in Central, WA on 3/12/2007


Thanks for your responses, here is the actual wordage from my county's code:

18.16.030 Building height measurement.

A.  Building Height. Any building or structure or portion thereof hereafter erected in any use district shall not exceed the maximum height specified in the district, except as provided in subsections C and D of this section or as enumerated elsewhere in this title.

B.  The building or structure height is the vertical distance above the reference datum from the highest point of the copping of a flat roof or to the deck line of a mansard roof or to the average height of the highest gable of a pitched or hipped roof. The reference datum shall be selected by either of the following, whichever yields a greater height of building:

1.   Commercial and/or Industrial Zoning Districts. The reference datum shall be measured from the average finished grade of the building perimeter, except as provided below and as enumerated in subsection D of this section:

a.   The reference datum for buildings, structures or multi-building complexes located not more than ten feet below the established sidewalk and/or road right-of-way shall be measured from the reference datum of the highest adjoining sidewalk or public road right-of-way to a maximum of ten feet; or

b.   The reference datum for buildings, structures or multi-building complexes located more than ten feet below the highest grade of an adjoining sidewalk or road right-of-way shall be measured from the average distance between the highest grade of the adjoining sidewalk or public road right-of-way and the finished grade of the building perimeter to a maximum of twenty feet.

c.   The height of a stepped or terraced building is the maximum height of any segment of the building.

2.   Residential, Recreation, Rural and Agricultural Zoning Districts. The reference datum shall be measured from the average, existing natural grade of the building perimeter, except as provided in subsection D of this section for multifamily and office buildings in the R-H district.


The height of the 2 story house I want to build is 32'




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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/12/2007


Looks like the "average height" of your gable or hip is their measuring point.

So you need to draw the triangle representing the end of your gable and figure out "average height".  "Average" is different than "mean". Then add that to your  non-gable wall height for your "building" height. A lot of this will depend on your roof pitch and "natural" grade.

If you could provide a drawing, stretch, picture or description of your elevations it would help. Its difficult to see your hands describing this building as you talk ;-}

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By Laura in Central, WA on 3/13/2007


Here is a link:

dreamhomesource.com/Plan.asp?PlanID=42468

I don't know if there is enough information there to figure it out and I'm assuming that the height of the ceiling on 1st floor is 9 feet and 8 feet on second floor.  I was just hoping to get a ballpark height.  I would be building on a sloped lot (approx 20' grade over 100+ feet).  We are planning a daylight basement but planner did state that the basement doesn't count toward roof height.  Thanks so much!


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/13/2007


Without better dimensions this is a rough guess. You have a 9:12 pitch on the roof.

So min 6" for first floor above grade, 9' for first floor, 2' for floor structure, 8' for second floor plus the average roof height  of 8' gives you a height of  27+' not counting any exposed basement wall they might count. Actual building height is going to be approx. 35+'

Only way to reduce height without sinking house into the ground is change roof slopes.

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By Laura in Central, WA on 3/13/2007


Thanks Dale, that will help, I'll try to get better dimensions.  Appreciate the help!

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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 3/14/2007


Looking at print, the second story is fully supported by bearing walls with the largest span being about 14 feet. This can be spanned with a 2 x 10 at 16" on center with select grades of wood or even 2 x 8 on 12" centers. The calculations are as follows. Foundation walls 6" above grade. Use joist hangers and supports placing floor of first floor equal to top of foundation wall. 2 -8' stories. Now it's at 16' 6" , add 1' for 1st floor ceiling/2nd floor floor assembly, 17' 6",  building depth is approximately 28' so if we assume a 12/12 roof pitch (which is extremely steep) centerline hight becomes 14' which with the 12/12 pitch averages to an exact 7' hight putting your total structure at 24' 6". Just a footnote for those that may need to know. As defined by the International residential code the mean height would be 23' 6" (16'6" + 30'6" averaged = 23' 6"
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