Why Are Commercial Roofs Typically Flat?


You probably noticed that most commercial buildings have flat roofs. You start asking yourself whether it’s just coincidence or are they supposed to be flat. You may have asked yourself why they are not peaked or sloped like many residential buildings. You may even be thinking that commercial buildings should have fancy roofs and you never see that. Schools, factories, hospitals, and malls around you all have flat roof tops. In this post, we will explain the reasons and help you understand  the concept of flat roofs.

To save on cost

Commercial buildings have large footprints. This means that they are already expensive at the very start of construction. Large footprints actually mean that they are large and cover a lot of space. Commercial buildings need flat roofs because they are less expensive,  unlike other fancy roofs that require extra framing cost depending of the design complexity. Also, flat roofs require less material,  which is an important factor since commercial constructions are always on a strict budget.

Installing a drainage system on a flat roof is considerably cheaper than on any other kind of roofs. Flat roofs require simple drainage systems with far less materials at a significantly lower cost. The roof is actually not completely flat. It has a small slant of about 2%. Looking up from below, you will not notice this slant which helps to prevent roof damage caused by ponding water.

Flat roofs are more practical on commercial buildings

When you want to design a roof top, you really need to consider the size of the building. Commercial buildings are as we said earlier, large in size. Creating a sloped roof would actually mean that the peak would either be unconventionally tall or have many peaks and valleys. That’s not exactly a good look from an aesthetic standpoint. Also, some cities and municipalities actually impose how high commercial buildings should be in their building codes.

You also need to consider that commercial buildings require more foot space. So why should you spend more money on the roof rather than on creating more square footage? Imagine a very big box with a very tall sloping roof.  How funny would it look!

Flat roofs offer space for certain equipment

Industrial heating and cooling equipment are essential in a large commercial building. It is not conventional to put this equipment at ground level and may not even be permitted by city or municipality code. It is actually a security and safety threat. You may wonder why this equipment is generally not placed in a storage room or basement. This is because of either noise, comfort or even safety. Flat roofs are the only actual practical solutions for heaters, conditioners, and many other types of machinery. This is because they provide a secure location, thus making it the ideal location for all large equipment.

Commercial buildings do not need the appeal

When you are constructing a residential home, you want to make it beautiful because it is actually a representation of you. When it comes to large commercial buildings you do not need an attractive looking roof, no one ever sees it most of the time. You are also trying to go for a formal look. It is, after all, a commercial building.

Green roof initiative

You can easily adapt a flat roof for the green roofing installation initiative. With the world being all about going green and saving the environment, having a flat roof is, therefore, a good idea. It can be difficult and almost impossible to start a green initiative on a sloped roof.

Better wind resistance

Flat roofs provide better resistance from storms as compared to sloped roofs. Strong winds could easily damage sloped roofs, but may not cause any problems to flat roofs.

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