Even when builders work in varied styles, the pork chop eave lives on. As clunky as it is common, it has become almost universal in production housing: the emblem of all that’s cookie-cutter. It’s quick and easy—the raking fascia is built flush, with a triangular piece that covers up the end of the rafters and merges with the soffit below.
The pork chop evolved from generations of builders trying to imitate homes with classical entablature and traditional eave construction. But because so much common knowledge about traditional form has been lost over the years, so, too, has the ability of consumers and professionals to discern what looks genuine and what doesn’t.
Pork chop eaves happened because they were efficient and simple. They didn’t stray too far from a traditional solution. A logical builder will say, “It saves work—what’s the problem?” The problem is it looks terrible.
The options shown here are variations that work with many house styles. The boxed rafter tail gives an uncluttered look with an overhang that offers strong shadow lines, though this one can be tricky to install if the roof slope is steeper than 8:12. The simpler boxed rafter tail has all the upsides of the boxed rafter tail but avoids the tough-to-install sloping soffit. Finally, the traditional return is suitable for any style from a Georgian Federal to a Craftsman cottage.
Buyers who look at your houses probably won’t be pointing to the eaves and commenting on what a super job you did on that tricky return. But consumers have intuition about what’s authentic. They can sense the difference between the junk and the good stuff. A properly done eave return means one more trip up the ladder. But it’s attention well spent because it helps sell homes.