Flat Roofs Have Fans And Foes

As the price of land increases, many real estate developers are looking at flat-roof designs as a means of increasing the square footage of houses, much to the chagrin of historical preservationists and municipal officials.
September 21, 2006, 7am PDT | Matt Baumann
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"The flat-roof trend is being driven in part by people seeking the best return on their investment amid soaring property values in recent years. It also demonstrates how zoning restrictions communities passed in recent years have backfired."

The inherent cause of this type of design lies in recent attempts by municipalities to prevent "monsterization" on small lots. The end result is a boxy-shaped house that is out of character with the existing neighborhood.

To combat this trend, local officials in areas such as Bethany Beach, Delaware, and St. Augustine, Florida, have banned flat roofs. Besides concerns over aesthetics, some critics argue over the inherent safety of this type of design.

"Flat roofs can also have drawbacks for owners. They generally don't stand up well to heavy rain and snow, and can require more frequent maintenance than roofs with a traditional pitch, contractors say. Flat roofs can also be more expensive to build, requiring more structural support."

What's more, some realtors complain that flat-roofed styled homes are harder to sell because they "stick out like a sore thumb."

Thanks to Matt Baumann

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Published on Friday, September 15, 2006 in The Wall Street Journal
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