What’s the first thing you notice when you look at a house nearby? The roof! Few design considerations you make will have such a striking impact as your roof.

The style, colour, and materials used in your roof make a big impression on your new home build or renovation.

Roof Materials

Our choice is vast! Selecting your roof material will be largely based on your aesthetic preference.

We need to keep in mind the existing structure if we have one, and what it will support.

Also, consider the durability of materials and the costs.

Types of Roofing Materials

STEEL:  This includes sheet steel, corrugated iron (tin roof), and branded products such as Colorbond. 

TILES: These are such as classic look. The gamut of tiles includes terracotta, slate, clay, and concrete. They are strong and low-maintenance and each tile is hung and nailed to the framework. There are also several composite products.

RECYCLED PLASTIC TILES: Now here is something new. To help cope with our bursting plastic problem.  A few companies in Australia are producing roofing tiles from recycled plastic or using it as a composite material.

Roof Design Styles

There are as many as 20 different roof styles, but many are subtle variations.

A few design styles to know are:

Flat Roof

Modern flat roof

When modernism emerged in the 1900s, things suddenly got simple, straight-lined, and machine reproducible. It was the ethos of the time — mass production.

Unfortunately, the term ‘flat roof’ is quite misnamed as they are very rarely flat. And for good reason. The enemy of a roof is undrained water. To accommodate this inherent design flaw, flat roofs are sometimes a ‘parapet roof’. This is a slightly sloped roof that hides behind a little all, which makes it appear to be flat.

They look great. One downside, though, can be the gutters. As these are also behind the wall, an overflowing gutter can’t drain into a garden, it can only pool on the roof, which is bad news or flow back into the house. Far from being modern, the parapet roof can be seen on many beachside properties as well as 120-year-old terrace houses.

Roof Terrace is something often seen in apartment buildings across Sydney. The flat roof space allows for entertaining or relaxing.

They also look great and can work very well as extra living space. The downside here is the waterproofing. A concrete slab is often used. This can be waterproofed with waterproofing products to prevent moisture damage. Your builders or hardware store will be able to help.

Just like the parapet roof, the roof terrace will need a small slope to get any standing water from a  rain shower to drain away.


Green Roof is something we are seeing all over Sydney now, and indeed, all over the world. They not only look fantastic, but the gardens also insulate our roofs well and give us productive use from an otherwise useless area. A green roof may have garden beds on top. The beds of soil improve the thermodynamics of our home. What we need is a waterproof membrane and a structure used to support it all. There are companies in Sydney who specialise in green roof gardens.

Gable Roof

Gable roof with dormer windows

Gable roofs are beautiful in their simplicity. A gable roof is a simple triangle where two sides meet together. These have been an enuring roof style because they are practical attractive. You’ll see them on luxury innercity pads and suburban garages alike.

The advantage of a gable design is the vaulted ceiling, which can create extra space inside. The roof can potentially cover an area outside, such as a front entrance. In addition, you can add dormer windows if you want to bring in more light on one side.

Hip Roof

Similar to a gable, but with a ridge that joins the sides with extra support. The downside is the hip creates a more limited headroom. If you want a habitable attic or loft, this could be a consideration, although you could still create storage space.

The advantage of the hip roof is greater wind resistance.



This is also known as the mono-pitch roof. There is one single roof that is higher on one side and shorter on the other.

The advantage of the skillion is it affords a huge window space so you can take advantage of a nice aspect or view. Skillion style is common for shed conversions and homes where one wall will be higher than the other.


Imagine an octagon shape. Now cut in half. This is a gambrel roof. Also known as a barn-style roof.

The advantage is that they afford extra space for a second level. Less common in Australia as we don’t have so many American barn-style houses. However, drive just outside of Sydney such as the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, and you will see quite a few stunning shed conversions.

Sheds can make comfortable, affordable, and beautiful houses for those who live on acreages.

Cross -gable roof to make X shape


Other roof styles include the Cross-Gable roof. This is a simple gable that is intersected by another gable. The house roof is an X shape.

This can work well if the dwelling has separate wings and entrances.



If you are living in a duplex or planning to build one, the M shape may be something to consider.

The M-shaped roof is able to form a double gable over each dwelling. The only downside, and it isn’t much of one, is needing a gutter to run along the centre.

Both dwellings share the central gutter. The water can then drain down a downpipe located in the centre of the dwellings.




The roof is one of the most striking things you see when you look at a property. But it is so often not considered until right at the end.

In considering a new building design or a new roof for the sake of it, aesthetics count for a lot.

Go for a style of roof materials that compliment the rest of the house.

When it comes to the type of roof design structure, you can use your property as the guide.

A few things to think about will be:

  • the drainage
  • insulation
  • property aspect
  • existing house limitations
  • your aesthetic preferences
  • your budget

Talk to your drafter at Design Plus Drafting and they will have ideas and options for you.