Friday, February 04, 2011

Why do we even have flat roofs?

Yesterday during my commute to work I heard a news story that said that there have been over 70 roof collapses in Massachusetts do to all the snow. The majority of these roofs were flat roofs like the ones used on commercial and many municipal buildings. An earlier report mentioned some retail stores that were closed due to stress cracks in the walls from all the weight on the roof. Why do we even have flat roofs? I've never understood this. I remember when I was a kid in school it seemed like work was always being done to fix a leaky roof. Of course all the schools I went to had flat roofs.
I'm not an architect, roofer, or structural engineer so maybe I'm wrong here but pitched roofs just seem to make a hell of a lot more sense. Rain and melting snow can actually run off of a pitched roof. I remember the school janitor having to shovel snow off the school's flat roof.
An obviously that is big part of the problem with the collapsed roofs, with all the snowfall it's more important than ever for building owners to make sure that the icy, slushy, heavy snow is removed off the roofs. That hasn't been happening but obviously now there's a lot of renewed vigilance to see that its done. And I'm sure while workers work to clear the snow they can't wait for spring.


Puck said...

Not sure about why we have flat roofs either, Lefty, but I am sure that I love the restyling of the blog. Looks great and no more eye strain for me reading white print on black. Thanks!!!

Lefty said...

Thanks Puck!

Always great to see you comment.

I will say I'm a bit dismayed by the all the eye strain comments I never realized it was such a problem!

I think my next project will be to spruce up Fall River Blog, which needs more reader contributed posts! Puck you are willing? Anyone else?

Lefty said...

Whoops I meant Puck ARE you willing?

Didn't mean to commit you to it! Yet!

bmcmolo said...

From what I understand (from Tom Wolfe's excellent From Bauhaus to Our House) flat roofs became the standard once American architects stopped following American ethos and embraced the Bauhaus compound, i.e. "german worker housing and glass boxes." The pitched roof remains the best structural bet. You're absolutely right.

Vernice Yehl said...

I think flat roofs are suitable for low-precipitating regions because they can easily leak when exposed to a lot of activity and human traffic. But they are environment-friendly since they can be made into roof gardens. Just make sure that they are properly maintained for them to last a long time.

Penelope Dingee said...

Since installation and material costs are very cheap, flat roofs have a tendency to experience the problems that you mentioned. But if materials are of proper quality for the purpose and size of the building, those problems can be avoided. And if reroofing is not an option, I agree with Vernice that proper maintenance is what flat roofs need.

Penelope Dingee

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