Snow load on a desert cabin’s roof, revisited

A year and a half ago when the bedroom addition’s roof went on there was some discussion about the pitch, which is barely noticeable, and how it was going to behave with heavy rain and snow. We’ve really just finished testing that second thing, and I suppose it should come as no surprise that a slightly steeper pitch would have been better.


Initially, before the snow became ice, there was a little encouraging sliding but it soon stopped, causing a little more trouble than it solved because it managed to neatly overhang and bypass the gutter. It wasn’t stressing the gutter, didn’t touch it at all in fact, but it also didn’t let the gutter do its job. So I ended up knocking that part of the ice off with a big pole. Other than that the only problem is that the roof sheds ice very poorly, really just leaving it there till it melts. In a wetter, colder climate this could easily become unacceptable. In my case, fortunately Neighbor D insisted on overbuilding the roof on 16” centers, which I initially wasn’t very happy with because it required me to scrounge more timber and delayed the roof. I’ve gotten more happy with it in the past week or so. There’s no evidence of strain at all, and it’s unlikely that the roof will see a great deal more snow than it did around New Year’s for the whole of its life.

So it’s an overall success, but on the other hand it still hasn’t entirely cleared and that couldn’t be called optimal. Guess that means everybody on both sides of the discussion gets to say I told you so. 🙂

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Snow load on a desert cabin’s roof, revisited

  1. Robert says:

    Lessee: no collapsed roof; no ice dams leading to interior waterfalls (done that, no fun); no Joel skewered by falling icicles. Yer doin’ OK!

  2. Ben says:

    It would be a easy retrofit to make that bedroom roof automatically shed ice and snow. Simply rip down your ceiling drywall and then tear out your ceiling insulation. Keep your heat up nice and high, and the rest will take care of itself.

    At always, the design of your Lair is really all about your own priorities. I assume that your priority in this case was a simple yet tight little bedroom that would keep you snug and warm, so I see nothing wrong with your roof the way it is.

  3. Kentucky says:

    Ben beat me to it. If nothing else, the current developments prove that your ceiling insulation is doing its job.

  4. Jean says:

    Snow load is also insulation.

  5. Mike says:

    I’m still having trouble with wrapping my head around the notion that building a home in the desert, one needs to consider snow load…

To the stake with the heretic!