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What Sort of Roof Should We Have?

We are planning to build our own home in Cyprus and I understand that you’ve done the same. We’ve seen a number of properties and visited a number of different building sites and we both have a good idea of what we want in our new home. We’ve seen many designs and styles of roofs […]

We are planning to build our own home in Cyprus and I understand that you’ve done the same.

We’ve seen a number of properties and visited a number of different building sites and we both have a good idea of what we want in our new home. We’ve seen many designs and styles of roofs and I’d appreciate your advice on which style is better.

Answer

Thanks for your email. Yes, I built my own home in Cyprus – and I’ve helped a number of other people do the same.

But I should advise you that it is illegal to build property in Cyprus unless you are a registered building contractor. So when you say you are planning to build your own home, I hope you mean you are getting someone else to build it for you!

There are many different designs of roof, which fall into three main categories:

Flat Concrete Roof

The cheapest type of roof is basically a flat concrete slab.

While our house was being built we rented a house with a flat concrete roof; it was not a pleasant experience!

During the summer, it acted like a storage radiator, soaking up the heat of the sun during the day and releasing it at night. We could actually feel the temperature rising as we climbed the stairs at night and the heat in our bedroom was suffocating.

During the winter, all the heat in the house escaped through the roof making it very cold indeed. On some days the temperature inside was lower than the temperature outside and we felt that we were living in a refrigerator.

The roof hadn’t been properly waterproofed and several damp patches appeared when it rained and we also saw several patches of grey mould growing.

Insulation and waterproofing are the main problems with a flat roof. It has to be maintained regularly to stop rainwater getting in and insulation is non-existent. You can seal and treat the roof with a heat reflective paint, but it’s not very effective.

Pitched Concrete Roof

A tiled, pitched concrete roof is the next step up the ladder in both price and quality.

The ceiling and roof are combined into a single component providing attractive vaulted ceilings inside the property.

As long as the roof has been properly treated against damp, the chances of it leaking are reduced. However, in terms of insulation, this type of roof is just as bad as a flat concrete roof. Houses with any sort of concrete roof can be suffocatingly hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.

To improve insulation you could add a dropped false ceiling backed with plenty of insulation material.

Pitched Wooden Roof

At the top of the range in both price and quality is a pitched wooden roof built over a flat concrete ceiling.

This is obviously more expensive that a concrete roof as more materials and man-effort are required in its construction.

This type of roof is becoming more and more popular. I have one and I’ve seen many properties being built with a similar roof.

As well as dramatically improving insulation, a pitched wooden roof provides you with an attic and a significant amount of extra storage space. You can also use it to hide those unsightly water storage tanks, etc. affording them protection from the elements. (Click here to see a photo of our attic that I took while our house was being built)

Unlike British style wooden roofs, many Cypriot roofs are sheathed in marine grade plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) before the roof felt, battens, and tiles are fixed.

We’ve lived in our home for three years now and the difference between it and our rented house, which had a flat roof, are remarkable. Even when it is over 40 degrees outside, our home is comfortable just with ceiling fans circulating the air. At night, I put our bedroom air conditioner on for an hour before we go to bed and then switch it off. And we don’t get freezing cold in the winter – we do have central heating but that tends to only switch itself on in the early mornings.

My Advice

Having experienced living in houses with a concrete roof and a pitched wooden roof, the decision’s a no-brainer.

If your budget can stretch to it, I advise you to have a pitched wooden roof over a concrete ceiling. Alternatively, have a pitched concrete roof and add a dropped false ceiling backed with plenty of insulation material. Unless your budget is extremely tight, avoid having a flat concrete roof!

Your architect will be able to advise you of the ball-park costs of the various roof options.

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