How to Cope With a Flat Roof on Your New House

House with flat roof

Although we typically see flat roofing on industrial and commercial buildings, and sloped roofs reserved for residential buildings, there are many situations where the reverse is true.

Some commercial buildings, however large, are designed with sloped roofs. They require the same expertise and safety precautions as a residential roof, but on a larger scale.

Even though it’s rare to find a single-family home with a flat roof, they do exist. Modern designs in architecture call for the sharp, clean lines that a flat roof will provide.

It’s also not uncommon to find townhouses and condominiums that are designed with a flat roof to give terrace space for tenants who don’t have access to a backyard. The outdoor bonus space is one of the perks of owning a home with a flat roof.

Should you be nervous about buying a house with a flat roof?

The answer is, no. You don’t have to be scared away by the prospect of owning and caring for a flat roof on your new house.

You should, however, be prepared to deal with some of the extra concerns presented by this style of roofing. However, before we get into the concerns, you should know the advantages of having a flat roof.

Advantages of a Flat Roof

  • Flat roofs are easily accessible and can offer bonus outdoor space.
  • Flat roofing tends to be more cost-effective.
  • Modern materials used to cover a flat roof are energy efficient.
  • Flat roofs can also more easily accommodate other house functions, such as air conditioning units and solar panels.

What should you be prepared for, if you buy a house with flat roof?

There are a few common concerns when it comes to maintaining a flat roof:

  • Ponding – Standing water that isn’t draining correctly can damage your roofing material over time.
  • Debris – Flat roofs tend to accumulate leaves and branches more easily. Debris needs to be cleaned away regularly to avoid getting soaked and freezing on top of your roof, which can damage the underlying material.
  • Wind – Since flat roofs have only one large sheet of waterproof material, even a small failure of one part of the roof which allows the wind to get underneath can put the whole thing in danger of lifting off.
  • Buckling – All buildings settle and shift in their foundations. The roofing membrane can come away from the building over time or because of poor installation. Buckling can be a cause for total replacement.
  • Alligatoring – UV impervious membrane can go a long way toward preventing the sun’s damage, but you can’t hide your roof from the sun. Over time, the sun’s rays will cause your membrane to bubble and peel, and make it look like the skin of an alligator. It has to be treated to avoid interior damage.

What is the main thing you want to avoid with flat roofing?

The number one problem with any roof happens when it leaks and allows water into your home.

Any one of the issues above can cause leaking if left untreated. Therefore, the primary goal you should have with your flat roof is to keep it maintained and to deal with any repairs as soon as the need arises.

A flat roof may have to be replaced more often than a sloped roof. However, if your roof is correctly installed and well-maintained, you should be able to keep it for 15-30 years.

Bringing it Home

Don’t avoid looking at that modern house you love, or the townhouse with a rooftop terrace. Just make sure you have your flat roof properly inspected and maintained and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it for many years.

If you live in Southeast Michigan and are interested in having your flat roof maintained, please give us a call. We are here whenever you need us!

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