The pros and cons of a flat-roof house

If you’re constructing a new home, you might wonder what type of roof is best. One roof type that’s common for businesses but less common for dwellings is a flat roof.

Aesthetically speaking, it’s a matter of opinion whether a home with a flat roof is appealing. They’re typically associated with modern or mid-century modern architecture and stand out next to traditional pitched roofs. In commercial buildings, flat roofs are much more the norm, and businesses that have anything else usually mean they went out of their way to build it.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to a flat-roof house. From functionality to fashionability, here’s everything to consider when choosing a flat-roofed home.

Modern home skyline

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a flat roof?

Advantages of a flat roof

When listing out the pros and cons of a flat roof, they typically come with more positives than negatives. Here are some of the many advantages of a flat roof.

Less costly 

Since there’s no slope to a flat roof, there’s less roof square footage to construct. Less square footage means fewer materials and labor. Also, most flat roofs have synthetic sheeting or a spray that’s cheaper and easier to apply than traditional shingles.

Room for creativity

When you build a flat roof on your home, you’re essentially adding an extra open level to your home. There are many ways you could use this extra space.

Equipment housing

Flat roofs can house HVAC units, such as air conditioners or furnaces. 

Green roofs

Flat roofs are a perfect space for green roofs. Whether you’re adding a few flower beds or coving the entire roof in grass, green roofing is much easier to install and maintain on flat roofs than pitched roofs.

Gathering areas

There are also opportunities for other gathering places to go along with your Zen green space on the roof. Rooftop decks, hot tubs, game areas, or wet bars are all excellent ideas if you enjoy hosting gatherings. Just be sure you reinforce your roof to accommodate the extra weight.

Low profile

Depending on your surroundings, the low-profile home that a flat roof provides might accentuate your overall landscape.

Solar friendly

A flat roof gives you more options to turn your house into a green home other than a green roof. Flat roofs are very conducive to solar paneling and solar shingles. If you’re considering solar roofing shingles, installation is also cheaper with a flat roof.

Disadvantages of a flat roof

Drainage

Understandably, the primary disadvantage of a flat roof is drainage. Water tends to pool on flat roofs, which can cause the weather sealant to break down over time. If you’re constructing a flat roof, it should be equipped with gutters, drains, or scuppers (or all three) to prevent pooling the best you can. Also, simple maintenance can help avoid pooling as well.

Less insulation and storage

When choosing a flat roof, you forego an attic. This means that not only will you have fewer places to store belongings, but you also won’t have additional protection against the elements. Attics act as additional warriors between the snow that can accumulate on the roof in the winter and the hot sun in the summer. This lack of extra insulation might lead to increased energy costs.

Flat roof with metal panels

Sellability

Although it’s not necessarily bad, flat roofs in homes are way less common than sloped-roof homes. That means, if you’re in a neighborhood, there’s a good chance your house will stand out. That might be your intention, but when it comes to reselling your home, a flat roof might not be for everyone.

How long do flat roofs last?

How long any roof lasts boils down to the materials used and if they’re installed correctly. With any type of roof, you get what you pay for. The most common flat roofing materials have a 10- to 25-year warranty. However, you can spring for more premium roofing material, such as solar or metal roofing that can last 50 years or more.

Concluding thoughts

If you want a home that stands out, a flat roof is a great option. Not only are they aesthetically unique, but they also come with many homeowner benefits. However, before committing to a flat-roofed home, speak with a roofing professional to go over all the advantages, disadvantages, and uses of a flat roof.

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