Adding a new roof can save on heating

The roof of your home is probably the most important part of the building fabric (well apart from the foundations!) because the roof offers the most protection from the elements. A roof also needs to be thermally insulated to a very high level, because, as you know, heat rises and there is a considerable about of heat lost through your roof.
But, the roof is also one of the most aesthetic elements of a building; it is the hat that gives a home its character. You only need to see how the character and look of a person changes when they where a different hat to realise how much a roof can effect the design of a home.
The most common roof type is the traditional ‘pitched roof’, which goes back over 1000’s of years. It is one of the simplest and most successful roofs because its triangular form is incredible strong (structural engineers love triangles), its slope allows rain and snow to fall off daily and it is relatively cheap and easy to build. The roof pitch also creates a great void within that allows the perfect opportunity to do a loft conversions and roof extension to gain another room in your house. Loft conversions are still one of the most affordable ways of adding more space to your home and its also one of the best rooms in the house making the most of the available natural and you get the best views. Make sure obtain planning permission or use your permitted development rights before starting any work.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in a number of different styles of home that have very different roof types. My mum’s house, where I grew up, was a late 1960’s mono-pitched roof, which was very low angle, single plane roof. Unfortunately it had very little insulation in the roof and asbestos tiles so it wasn’t long before it had to be replaced. The house was always freezing!
My first flat as a student had a ‘mansard’ roof, which I always thought felt more Parisian in style. This was at the very top of a tall terrace and would have traditionally been used as servant’s quarters for a wealthy family back in the day. A mansard roof is one of my favourite spas as it is packed with romance and character.
My current home is a postwar modernist building, which I’m just about to start a major renovation on, has a very tired looking flat roof. It is under insulated; it’s pretty ugly to look at and has areas of ‘ponding’. Ponding is where the flat roof begins to distort and undulate over the years leaving small ponds of stagnant water in areas of the roof. This can be a big problem because it means the temperature of the roof surface will vary a lot between this areas which are dry and those which are wet and because every material expands and contracts at a different rate it can cause cracking of the roof membrane near the ponding areas. I’ve submitted a planning application to remove the roof and add a new roof top extension, but even if the planning approval doesn’t come though for the additional space I will still need a good roofing contractor to come in and replace the existing roof. Flat roof technology in the 21st century is so much better than it was in the 1960’s and 70’s. I think I was mentally scarred by some of the flat roof buildings I spent time in growing up. The roof of my schools would leak all of the time and I don’t even want to discuss how bad the flat roofed portacabins we used to use as temporary classrooms. But, material technology is so much better now than it was then and it is so easy to get fantastic flat roof systems with long, insurance backed guarantees so my new flat roof project should last at least another 50 years.
The finished material choice of your roof is as important as the shape. Slate and lead roofs are great for more traditional buildings, but new green roofs seem to be the ecological choice of the day. Who would have thought that growing fauna, herbs and grass on the roofs of our buildings would be so popular?
So, whether you’re updating or changing the shape and materials of your existing house, or exploring the opportunities available to your on a new build home, the overall design of your roof is critical so the overall look and beauty of your home. You need to make sure you get it right and it should never be compromised on. Good luck!


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