I realized that I have noded "hip roof" but not yet about its less artful, more practical counterpart, the gable roof.

The appeal of the gable roof is that it is very simple to design, build, and erect. It's trusses are less complex and are more swiftly built than those of the hip.

A gable roof has two sloping planes on opposite sides of the structure (usually on the long sides) and two vertical planes on the other two sides. The two vertical planes of the roof are called the "gable ends". Simply replace these two verticals with pitched planes, and you have a hip roof on your hands.

A gable roof has two types of trusses; the gable and the common. The two gables are almost always the same and the commons in between are almost always the same, hence the ease of building of this type of roof.

The gable is gradually losing popularity in home designing. Most people associate gable roofs with barns, since barns are almost always built with gable roofs. People want their homes to look fancy and all that jazz so they like to spice up their roofs with hips and valleys and dormers and a whole lot of ignorant bullshit.

One big trend in design is the house with a hipped main body and a gable or two that valley off the main hip. It's a very appealing look but costs a lot more and is more difficult than say, valleying gables off of gables.

Roofs are interesting as hell and to me, the trends seen in roofing and homebuilding are a sort of microcosm of our culture. But that's a whole other node.