While it is true that sloped roofs have historically been more popular than flat ones, modern architecture has made use of the flat roof due to is perceived aesthetic value. With modern technology, a lot of the flaws and design issues that might have befallen a flat roof can be mitigated as well, so it’s not so much a question of functionality anymore.
But why choose a flat roof design over a sloped roof? If you’re considering going with a very modern-looking home and you want a flat roof to be your crowning achievement, then you should really consider some of the pros and cons involved before you commit to this sort of design for your home. Let’s take a look.
- Space. One of the biggest reasons that you may go with a flat roof is that it has the potential to provide more head room in your home. If you’ve ever been in the tiny attic of an old house, then you probably have realized how limiting a strong slope can be, as it can remove usable space. A flat roof, however, doesn’t have this problem at all since it lies horizontally on top of the house.
Even better, many times a flat roof itself can be repurposed into more space for your house. For example, you can make a rooftop patio or garden for your home. If you have very little yard space on the ground floor, this can be a great alternative when it comes to entertaining guests or simply spending some time outdoors. It can also make for an interesting view, especially if your home is in the countryside.
Another great idea is to use it for all of your utility equipment. Lots of equipment such as your air conditioning unit or solar panels could easily go on your roof if it lacks an incline. If you live somewhere where yard space is limited and the weather permits a flat roof, this may be a great way to create more usable space.
- Cost-effectiveness. Flat roofs are actually cheaper to put up than sloped ones for a number of reasons. For one, they require fewer materials and are less complicated, so they cost less in both equipment and labor. In addition, since they are generally safer to stand on than sloped roofs, the installation company has to pay less in insurance for their workers during the installation on your house, and they can often pass the savings on to you. Your roof will also usually go up more quickly if you decide to build a flat roofed home.
- Ease of maintenance. Just as installing a flat roof on your house is generally easier, climbing up onto your flat roof to make further modifications is often easier than doing the same with a sloped roof. If you need to make repairs or even just put up a satellite dish, it’s safer and simpler to have a flat roof design for your home.
- Aesthetics. If your house’s architecture is modern, then a flat roof home design is basically expected. Some people still use sloped roofs on such houses, but the clean geometry of a flat roof can really help your place stand out. Before you build, take a look at some flat roofed house pictures and discuss things with your architect. Ask your builder if a flat roof sounds like a good idea.
Now, not everything about a flat roof is great. There are actually a few obvious cons that you will have to get over or find a way to mitigate.
- Drainage problems. There’s no real way around it: sloped roofs simply drain water and snow better than flat roofs. It’s just a matter of gravity, because water and other substances are going to pool on a flat roof since there isn’t anywhere for it to flow. This can be taken care of with a carefully designed drainage system of some kind, but under normal circumstances, be prepared to experience more leakage than what you might get with a sloped roof house.
- Higher maintenance costs. Sure, climbing up onto your roof to fix a problem is easier if it is flat, but you might find that you will have to do it a lot more often than you might on a sloped roof. Because of this, the maintenance costs will be higher. You will find yourself having to plug a lot more holes and replace a lot more material because flat roofs are less weather resistant. Moisture and other elements tend to stick around more easily and do damage to your home.
- Limited lifespan. With modern technology and improved materials, this isn’t as huge of a problem as it used to be, but flat roofs do tend to last five or ten years less than sloped roofs made of similar materials. Again, it all comes down to the fact that they are less resistant to the elements.
- Limited material options. Often, you will also have less choice when it comes to what materials you can use with flat roofs. Though the materials are often less expensive than those one might use in a sloped roof house, they also don’t last as long so they may be more expensive in the long run. Since flat roofs are a relatively new development in architecture, it’s hard to tell which material is best over the long term.
- Insurance costs. Because flat roofs leak more, they will naturally tend to cause higher home insurance costs. Call your insurance company to get a better picture of what these costs might be. If you’re not prepared for a long-term cost like this, perhaps a more durable sloped roof would be in order.
If you live in a climate that tends towards less extreme weather and that doesn’t experience a lot of precipitation—in the desert, for instance—then a flat roof would probably last you a fair amount of time. On the other hand, flat roofs tend to absorb heat more easily than sloped roofs, so you might want to take that into consideration and install solar panels to offset this if you live somewhere where there is relentless sun.
All in all, it really comes down to personal preference. If you like flat roofed houses and you can afford the costs, then that is reason enough to consider having a flat roof.