Coastal towns populated by beach houses include houses covered mainly by flat roofs. Beach house owners choose these over other more aesthetically pleasing options for a few reasons that relate to cost and convenience.
Flat roofs are preferable for beach houses because of their price point, easy installation and maintenance, and better views for residents and neighbors. Other roof types offer advantages, but unless climate calls for it, these designs are unnecessary for the needs of most beach houses.
Flat roofs are roofs with a slight angle of 5 degrees so that water runs off the subtle incline. These usually use a parapet or a low wall along their edge. They are not considered architecturally interesting or aesthetically better than many other roof options like pitched roofs. However, as will be explained shortly, the simplicity of flat roofs makes them efficient.
Four benefits of flat roofs make them preferable for beach houses: views, cost, maintenance, and space usage. A house’s roof can change a property’s value by tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, correcting a poorly built roof later on or needing to make alterations is costly. Selecting the right one for a house’s needs is critical.
The priorities for owners are usually convenience, price point, and low maintenance because often, the properties are rented to holiday-goers or only used a few times a year as a private holiday home. Avoiding costly, challenging to maintain roofs is essential, and flat roofs do the job well.
A great view is often the main selling point for most beach houses. This might include the ocean, beach, or other terrains such as mountains, but a clear view of it is a large part of what makes a property valuable.
For the residents of a beach house, flat roofs offer a lower profile, meaning they can be positioned below objects that often obstruct the view, such as overhead utility lines. Flat roofs also provide wider, panoramic views, increasing the beach house’s value.
For all residents and their neighbors in coastal areas, flat roofs prevent buildings from blocking the views of other buildings. This is especially important in high-density areas with many houses, where the value of a property is vastly affected by its views.
All roofs are supported by roof decks built underneath them to hold the structure up. Flat roofs require only a simple roof deck that uses less lumber than, for example, a sloped or pitched roof. Fewer materials mean less cost and less construction time.
Flat roofs are the easiest to install and require less construction expertise than most other designs. Installation is fast and convenient because the material usually comes in large rolls rather than individual tiles, for example. They can be purchased in one go and do not require individual elements to be placed. Less expertise and fewer materials needed reduce the overall costs compared to other roof types.
A beach house is often built for owners that will only visit it for short vacations or rent it out at a profit. The building should be low maintenance, so holidays aren’t spent repairing the house and built within budget. Traveling to one’s beach house frequently to address problems is expensive and time-consuming, primarily if located far away from the owner or landlord.
Because flat roofs come in large rolls, maintenance is easier and cheaper. Rather than repairing a patch of tiles or shingles, one patch of flat roof material can simply be purchased in sections for the needed area and installed quickly. Maintenance is also safer because flat roofs don’t require working at angles that can lead to dangerous falls.
Other popular roofs, like pitched roofs or hip-joint roofs, require high-quality construction and know-how, and mistakes can be difficult and expensive to correct. Even errors in the construction of a flat roof are easier to repair. The national average price of a repair on flat roofs is only $400, compared to $750 to $1,300 for other roof types.
A flat roof offers additional outdoor space. This roof-top area can be used for patios, gardens, or even a place to keep air conditioning units and other heating and cooling systems. Storing such units or systems effectively keeps the unsightly equipment out of sight and takes up less space inside the house. Flat roofs also provide a convenient space for installing solar panels to supplement the energy supply.
Other roofs offer a wide range of benefits but at a higher cost. Roofs with greater angles, like hip-joint, pitched, sloped or triangle roofs, allow for much better drainage as water runs off them. The same goes for debris such as leaves, and even snow, which is very unsafe on a flat roof as the weight can cause the roof to collapse if too much accumulates.
Flat roofs also do not offer the best insulation. Insulation is essentially the space between the outside and the inside of the house. Houses with attics or higher ceilings have more space than those with flat roofs, meaning they are more affected by large temperature fluctuations.
However, drainage and temperature fluctuation issues are not especially relevant to buildings in coastal areas because the climate is often relatively temperate. They usually don’t have any snow, and temperatures often don’t fluctuate significantly enough to warrant spending extra time and money building a roof designed for insulation.
Flat roofs still offer some benefits even in coastal areas that experience high rainfall and even tropical storms. Shingles, tiles, and individual elements usually used on other roof types can come loose with powerful wind. Maintenance on these is costly and time-consuming compared to flat roofs, but they still don’t offer a relevant advantage.
Beach houses are a valuable asset for personal use or extra income. In both cases, efficient building and staying on budget are essential. With many designs to choose from, flat roofs offer lower costs, faster and easier installation, fewer materials and expertise, and the best views for everyone nearby.
Should you consider building or buying a beach house, it’s essential to consider how the roof design will affect climate, cost, and property value. However, if you have a budget with room to spare for longer construction times, a skilled contractor, more building materials, and the climate required, a flat roof does the job just fine for a lower price.