Up on the Rooftop

The roof has been a point of contention between our contractor and his GC and our developer and architect. Our contractor and GC lean towards a 2:12 roof, while our developer and architect are steady in their 1:12 design. For a while, we kicked around the idea of a butterfly design, but a solution was found and agreed upon this week.

We’ll stick with a 1:12, but the roof will not be made of shingles, it’ll have to be either bituminous or metal, and probably, for budget, it’ll be bituminous. A modified bitumen roof is asphalt-based and designed for commercial or residential buildings with low-slope or flat roof structures (according to Beacon Roofing Supply). We’ll go with the modern self-adhering sheet of roofing paper: the installer removes the release paper and as the sheet is rolled out, it adheres itself to the roof. Bituminous roofs used to require torches or hot asphalt, so this roll-out method is safer and completely free of VOC fumes. The roof will come with a 20 year warranty and we can pick the color, so we’re going with a light shade to better reflect the light and keep the house cooler.

image of the rolls of roofing material from National Roofing Partners

Below is a pretty bad picture that I took a few days ago of the roof on the Cordell house. It’s a bituminous white roof–very similar to what we’ll have, and they report no problems in five years with it.

While this solution works because we like the flat, modern look, I’m currently having an inner conflict with the roofing material. It’s asphalt, which is made of tar and obviously not a green product. However, it is a proven product, so at some point I need to balance my wishes to be environmentally friendly with my need for performance in materials.

My developer laughed when I expressed my concern and said I could thatch the roof if I wanted to…and she’s super ecologically conservative. She reminded me that when you look at the house as a whole, it will be overwhelmingly green. The structure itself is recycled, the floor will be reused, the paint will be low VOC, the driveway permeable, the landscaping native, the appliances energy efficient… It’s a big step up from where we were, but still I wish I could do better.

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3 thoughts on “Up on the Rooftop

  1. Take a look at TPO roofing. It’s another commercial product I see all over town. You can even add pavers or a green roof over it.

  2. I was wondering – do you have corrugated iron for roofing over there? It’s lightweight, long lasting and not expensive over here! Though I’ve seen comments on American building blogs that corrugated iron has connotations of ‘slum housing’ and so is not well thought of. But it is a very popular choice of building material here and is in fact making a big comeback in conremporary architectural design.

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