By Carolyn Weber. As municipalities across the country implement design guidelines to ensure that their neighborhoods possess architectural character, builders have to find innovative ways to diversify their plans and streetscapes without breaking the bank. Creating attic living space within a high-pitched roof affords economical expansion and opportunity to vary elevation styles.

For a Pulte Homes project in Avondale, Ariz., the city required that the roof ridges in the builder's Prelude series either alternate direction or vary in height. "Changing the direction of the roof framing in a long, narrow product wasn't cost-effective because we'd need additional bearing walls plus a more complex roof system," says Pulte architect David Gibson. He considered flat roofs, but that, too, was expensive and presented a potential roof leakage problem. Gibson's third option was to raise the pitch of the roof to provide a minimum 2-foot difference between ridge heights from house to house.

The standard roof pitch in a Prelude house is 5:12. By raising the pitch to 8:12 with the livable-attic trusses, Pulte provided a varied street scene and added value to the house. "This technique is common to conventional framing techniques but, to my knowledge, hadn't yet been used within trusses in production homes," Gibson explains. The solution met the city's diversity requirements while adding only a minimal cost to the construction.