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Old 12-21-2009, 08:11 AM   #1
pixelmonkey
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Default soffit reason? benefit?

over the weekend while driving around and looking at a few homes, i noticed a few divisions of nicer homes that had a strange attribute. No soffit!?

i'm puzzled, why and why not! I understand the benefits of each... roof ventilation, and i understand the cost & hassle of dealing with painting the soffit.

NOTE: the homes that included this design were not matchboxes! 3000sq/ft + and 3 - 4 car garage. all brick with brass patina bay windows.

then i made the same note on a division of matchbox houses in town a few miles away. 1200-1600 sq ft homes with vinyl siding.

can someone give me a longer list of reasons for both having and not including a design with a soffit?

thanks
chris
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:20 AM   #2
logical
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

With older building materials and methods, it was an easy way to insure rain and snow was shed off the house and didn't find it's way inside. With proper methods and new technology/materials, it's probably to the point where builders feel safe that they can keep water out of the walls without the overhang.
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:22 AM   #3
Stuart in MN
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

It saved the builder a few dollars to leave them off, and most people don't notice the difference.
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:37 AM   #4
Crizzle
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Yeah, it is mixed in my subdivision. Luckily most of the house on my block have them. Personally, I wouldn't have bought my house if it didn't have them.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:06 AM   #5
Scotto
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by logical View Post
With older building materials and methods, it was an easy way to insure rain and snow was shed off the house and didn't find it's way inside. With proper methods and new technology/materials, it's probably to the point where builders feel safe that they can keep water out of the walls without the overhang.
Yea, it's probably fine if your house is built exceptionally well with no cut corners, but that's only going to be in a very small minority of the development houses thrown together nowadays. Anything to save a buck.

My house doesn't have soffits and may look a little nice, but the water running down the sides of my house is a constant headache. Every place where the trim, flashing, or siding isn't exactly right water comes in and starts rotting everything. Plus you can never have a window open in the rain because the rain comes right in.

My next house will have soffits no matter what.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

im going to go ahead and say that most of the time overhangs/soffits arent put on homes to save money and if you notice its normally tract/builder homes that dont have them. Overhangs definitely look a lot nicer than no overhangs and almost every house that we design in my office have overhangs even the public housing projects. its a small detail that makes the houses look just a bit nicer.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:14 AM   #7
twostory
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

On my detached garage I built my soffits 2 ft wide. The wider the better for getting the rain water off the siding and away from the building's foundation.

Most contractor will do anything to save a dime, "no soffit" = less cost.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

I thought the soffit had to be there for attic ventilation? Do these homes have exhaust fans on the roof?
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:30 AM   #9
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keep View Post
I thought the soffit had to be there for attic ventilation? Do these homes have exhaust fans on the roof?
yes and no. there are ways to provide ventilation at the fascia without soffit, but its not very cost effective. assuming thats why they left them off in the first place.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Can someone post a picture of what one of these no-soffit house looks like? I don't think I have ever seen one in my area.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

I think leaving it off years ago was cheaper because they didn't use osb. When you leave off the soffit, you generally have to go with a higher grade material on the roof deck that is exposed. Most houses have soffiit and use osb, but when you don't use osb, you generally want to use either plywood or 1x6's in a shiplap for the exposed overhang.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:41 AM   #12
blkhonda1991
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keep View Post
I thought the soffit had to be there for attic ventilation? Do these homes have exhaust fans on the roof?
I know my parents house had soffits w/venting and gable vents but also had an attic fan that kicked on at certain temps. they have since done away with the gable vents and cut a ridge vent. the house i just bought has eaves but no venting and just gable vents which seem to be inadequate since the roof looks pretty bad for being 12 years old
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

I think it is more a style thing.
The classic New England Salt Box style house did not have soffits.
But the area above the gutters was living space not an unheated attic.
So the roof was insulated not the ceiling below the upstairs floor.
And thus no need for a vented attic.
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:45 PM   #14
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmack View Post
Can someone post a picture of what one of these no-soffit house looks like? I don't think I have ever seen one in my area.
Here's my house when I first bought it (was in the middle of pressure washing it)

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Old 12-21-2009, 12:59 PM   #15
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotto View Post
Here's my house when I first bought it (was in the middle of pressure washing it)
Your house has soffits, they just aren't very wide - it looks like they stick out less than a foot on either side. What we're talking about (at least what I think we're talking about) is the roof ends right at the wall, no overhang at all.

Like this:

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Old 12-21-2009, 01:56 PM   #16
Scotto
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuart in MN View Post
Your house has soffits, they just aren't very wide - it looks like they stick out less than a foot on either side. What we're talking about (at least what I think we're talking about) is the roof ends right at the wall, no overhang at all.
Yea, I gotcha on the sides. I thought all houses at least had them where the gutters are. I guess I'm talking about the lack of an overhang on the opposite sides, which are the front and rear of my house.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

It's a style issue, but as many have noted soffits will provide some needed protection of the walls from the elements.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:57 PM   #18
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

Around here you would be amazed on how much shade a 2' wide soffit givess the wall at high noon.
Also keeps that much more rain water off your windows, trim, and foundation.

How well you you think its built when the builder cuts a corner like this to save money.
Where else did he cut that you dont see?
They do it because most dont notice or understand.
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Old 12-21-2009, 04:14 PM   #19
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

I think there is some confusion about what a soffit is

I have always thought the soffit is the horizontal piece under the overhang. It connects from the facia board to the wall of the house and usually has some kind of vents in it



In California, most of the houses are stick built with a stucco exterior. The roof overhangs the wall but there is not actual soffit - if you look up you will see the bottom of the roof. They usually use tongue and groove wood in this area and then sheath the rest of the roof in OSB.

like this


Last edited by Git; 12-21-2009 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 04:22 PM   #20
larry4406
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Default Re: soffit reason? benefit?

At the gutters - you need the soffit. It helps keep water away from the foundation and it gives a vent location for venting of the attics. The "soffit" on a gable end is largely decorative in my opinion, with minimal effect on shedding water away as the water is running down the roof towards the gutter, not sideways. Buiders delete the gable soffit for cost reaons - many will see, few will notice.
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