Building a Cape Cod Roof by Adjusting Ceiling Heights

Reference Number: KB-00772
Last Modified: February 8, 2019

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I want to create a Cape Cod style house, sometimes called a story and a half or attic loft. How can I do this automatically? 

Cape Cod house roof raised off first floor plates


There are a number of ways that a Cape Cod style house can be created automatically. One way is by controlling ceiling heights.  

To build an automatic Cape Cod roof

  1. Open the Chief Architect plan in which you want to build a Cape Cod roof or select File> New Plan .

  2. Navigate to Build> Wall> Straight Exterior Wall, and draw the exterior perimeter walls of the first floor.

  3. Select Build> Floor> Build New Floor and in the New Floor dialog that appears, click on Derive new 2nd floor plan from the 1st floor plan, then click OK

    Note: In Chief Architect, living areas cannot be created on the Attic floor. To build a loft, you must do so on a numbered floor - in this example, Floor 2.

  4. In the Floor 2 Defaults dialog that appears next, set the 2nd floor Rough Ceiling height to a fairly low value, then click OK.

    Floor 2 Defaults dialog with Rough Ceiling set to 24 inches

    In this example, 24" is used.

  5. Remaining on the second floor, click on the Select Objects tool and select one of the walls that we want to make a gable wall. With the desired wall selected, click on the Open Object edit button.

  6. On the Roof panel of the Wall Specification dialog, select the Full Gable Wall option, then click OK to close the dialog and apply your change.

    Wall Specification Dialog with Full Gable Wall set on the Roof panel

    Do this same procedure for any additional walls that you want to make gable ends.

  7. Once your gable walls are defined, select Build> Roof> Build Roof from the menu to open the Build Roof dialog. 

    Build Roof dialog with Build Roof Planes checked, 12 entered for the Pitch, and 5 inches set for Eave and Gable Roof Overhang

    • Check the box beside Build Roof Planes.

      Do not use Auto Rebuild Roofs here as this will prevent step 8 from working correctly.

    • Specify the desired Pitch.

      In this example, a 12:12 pitch is used - Cape Cod roofs typically have pitches of 8:12 or greater.

    • Specify the desired Roof Overhang.

      In this example 5" is used for both Gable and Eave Overhang.

    • Click OK to close the dialog and automatically generate a roof.

  8. Next, select Edit> Default Settings to open the Default Settings dialog. Expand for the Floors and Rooms section, expand the Floor Levels section, select 2, then click Edit.

    In Chief Architect X10 and prior program versions, select Current Floor and then click Edit.

    Editing the Default Settings for Floor 2

  9. In the Floor 2 Defaults dialog that opens next, under the Relative Heights category, change the Rough Ceiling value back to the default of 97 1/8," then click OK.

    The roof is bearing on the 24" Floor 2 exterior walls, but the ceiling will now extend up to the ridge. If you decide to rebuild the roof, you will lose your Cape Cod Roof Style so be sure to set the higher ceiling default aside as one of your final tasks.