Automatically Building a One and a Half Story Roof

Reference Number: KB-00358
Last Modified: July 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite or Home Designer Interiors or Home Designer Essentials


I want to create a Cape Cod style house, sometimes called a story and a half or an attic loft. How can I create this in Home Designer?


There are two ways to create a Cape Cod style house; with the roof sitting directly on top of the 1st story walls or with the roof sitting on knee walls a set distance above the second story floor.

For the purposes of this example both techniques start with a 30' x 40' building.

To build a second floor with gable walls

  1. From the menu select Build> Floor> Build New Floor .

  2. In the New Floor dialog, choose the option to Derive new 2nd Floor plan from the 1st Floor plan, and click OK.

  3. In Home Designer version 10 and newer programs, this will then display the Floor 2 Defaults dialog. Click OK in this dialog without making any additional changes at this time.

  4. On the newly created Floor 2, use the Select Objects  tool to click on the left wall of your rectangular structure, then click on the Open Object  edit button.

  5. On the Roof panel of the Wall Specification dialog, check the box next to Full Gable Wall, then click OK to close the dialog and apply your change.

  6. Repeat this process for the right wall on your second floor as well.

If the design calls for the roof to be built directly off of the 1st floor walls but retain a usable attic space, you will need to generate roof planes that ignore the top floor. If this is the case, you will need to repeat steps 4 through 6 on the first floor walls.

To build a roof ignoring the top floor

  1. From the menu click Build> Roof> Build Roof.

  2. in the Build Roof dialog, on the Roof panel, put a checkmark in the option to Ignore Top Floor.

    Note: In Home Designer Pro this setting is located near to the center of the dialog rather than the top.

If the plan design calls for a roof structure that is built up to a specific height on knee walls, you will need to adjust the height of the second floor prior to building roof planes.

To adjust the second floor

  1. With the Select Objects  tool active, click inside of the 2nd floor room to select it and click the Open Object  edit button.

  2. In Home Designer version 10 and newer programs, on the Structure panel of the Room Specification dialog, set the Finished Ceiling Height to that which you want the exterior walls to be, then click OK.

    For the purposes of our example, this is set to 24".


    The appearance of the dialogs may vary, depending on what version of Home Designer you are using.

    In Home Designer version 9.0 and prior, the Ceiling Height value needs to be adjusted on the General tab, and you will want to be sure that the (D), which stands for Default, is removed from the Ceiling Height field.

  3. Select Build> Roof> Build Roof  from the menu to display the Build Roof dialog.

  4. Uncheck Auto Rebuild Roofs so that the program will not automatically rebuild the roof if you make future changes that affects the roof, such as to exterior wall positions or ceiling heights.

    The Auto Rebuild Roofs feature is not available in Home Designer Essentials version of the software.

  5. Specify the pitch, Cape Cod roofs typically have pitches of 8:12 or greater.

    • If you are using Home Designer Pro, check the box by Build Roof Planes.
    • Verify that "Ignore Top Floor" is Not checked.

  6. Click OK to close the dialog and generate a roof.

Now that we have created our roof at the correct height for our story and a half structure, we are ready to set the Finished Ceiling Height back to its default value.

Resetting the finished ceiling height

  1. Use the Select Objects  tool to click inside of the second floor room, then click the Open Object  edit tool to again display the Room Specification dialog.

  2. On the Structure panel, place a checkmark in the Default field next to Finished Ceiling Height.


  3. Click OK to close the dialog and apply the change.

    Dotted lines display on the plan indicating where the ceiling planes intersect the roof.

  4. Select 3D> Create Camera View> Dollhouse View * to see the results.

  5. You are now ready to furnish the area, or take the information that you have learned in this article and apply it to your own design.