When we were building our house in Europe I wanted a flat roof. I've lived in India for a while in a house with 200 square meters flat roof and it was really amazing. You can go on it and walk and look at the sleeping city in the night. Lovely.
But we did not build a flat roof.
Apparently, roof types have their specifics and will not always fit your construction project, your weather or geographic location, or your budget. In this article I'll draw your attention to the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular roof types – gable, shed or flat roof.
The gable roof consists of two equal sloped surfaces places in front of each other. There are two flat surfaces on the other two sides and often they are just sequels of the house wall. Usually the front entrance of the house is at the same side with one of these flat surfaces. The typical pith of such roofs is between 4/12 and 10/12. More than this means a really steep gable roof.
It is most popular in the Western countries and in the entire Europe. There are reasons for this. In these areas with temperate weather the roof must serve as insulation both from heat and from cold. Gable roof is good for this because it ensures a lot of air between the sloped surfaces and the actual ceiling of the house. Many houses allow using of this intermediate space either for storing stuff or for building small garrets.
Gable roof is also good for areas which have snow. The sloped surfaces fully cover the top of the house so now snow remains on it for long which reduces the problems with moisture.
Another advantage of the gable roof is that it is relatively simple to build and rather affordable. No surprise it's so popular!
Don't build gable roof if you live in a very windy area. These roofs get easily damaged from hurricanes.
The flat roof, like I already said earlier is very, very cool. It's great for the hot season when you can use it as a huge terrace. You can have a play area on it or even a small pool (be careful with pools however as you don't want water pouring in your house). In the recent years the green roofs become very popular, and essentially they are flat roofs as well.
In areas with heavy rains and snow this roof type may require a bit more investments in insulation and drainage system. Insulation will be fairly important if you live in a very hot area as well because there is no much air between the roof and your ceiling. One option is to build a ceiling under the roof allowing a meter or so but this means more money.
If you have a lot of sun out there think about installing solar panels on your roof – they'll pay off long-term.
Finally, the shed roof is a very simple roof with a single sloped surface. It solves the problem with snow and drainage and provides some insulation area. For most houses the shed roof (known also as lean-to roof) looks a bit strange that's why it's typically used in garden buildings like sheds and garages. Some houses, especially mountain huts may look good with such roof.
There are also many other roof types you may want to check out before deciding what to choose: gambrel, mansard, hip, bonnet, cross gabled and more.