What to know about turning your roof into a sundeck

Don’t have much of a backyard??Look up for some lounge space.

It’s officially drinking on the roof season. And while plastic lawn chairs and a cooler on the blacktop will certainly work, perhaps it’s time to consider a more permanent arrangement.
We checked in with general contractor David Posternack of Philly-based Match Remodeling for a little roof deck 101.

More space, less hassle
Compared to a traditional addition, a roof deck adds significant living space without turning your place into a construction zone.

“People will talk about adding a third story to their home, but that’s a pretty major project,” says Posternack. “When I’m inside a house doing the bathroom or the kitchen, I’m invading my clients’ space. One of the wonderful things about a roof deck is they never see us. We draw up the design, and they see us in three weeks.”

Expect to pay
It’s cheaper than a traditional addition, but roof deck materials don’t come cheap — and you don’t want them to. Posternack recommends a premium composite material made from wood and plastics that doesn’t warp or require maintenance — important factors when the structure is three stories high in the open air — but it does drive the price up. 

Start with a good roof
When it comes time to get a new roof, you will need to remove the deck. “It’s a real pain,” admits Posternack. “If your roof is over 3 or 4 years old, put a new one on first.” After that, don’t worry about the deck causing roof damage. “We build the deck exactly the same way as the house is made. Everything is going from brick wall to brick wall; nothing is touching the roof.”

Want your deck to stand out?
Posternack  recommends ditching the traditional spindles and exploring different railing options. “The biggest opportunity for people to get creative is the railing. It’s the owners’ way to put their own personal stamp on it, because you’re kind of limited by terms of code — L&I doesn’t want me getting too creative up there.”


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