What about the roof?


Architect Gloriana Mejia and Builder Zacarias Ramirez

Hello followers! Here we are after some little time installing our roof steel frame structure and cover. Our strategy was to install it really soon since rainy season is here with all it’s power and there is a need to start working under a roof. Our workers can finish welding under it so all metal work will not be delayed because of the rain and our common tropical weather of the season.

Being able to build up our structure on steel, allows this flexibility in terms of construction. With some other material, we would have to wait for our walls to be finished in order to install our roof structure. This would happen after three or four months because this means you would have to install electrical and mechanical systems too, before finishing your walls.Yep, it sounds like too much work and time before we can stand and work under a roof.
Two main roofs are protecting this tropical home.

Roof is extremely important when you want to build a house in the tropics. Some people worry first for humidity inside the house coming from below ( floors and lower side of the walls) , some care about exterior wall maintenance (cost and how often a product needs to be applied), or some complain about excessive sun going into the rooms and over heating the house. All these problems have a solution and it is an architectural design solution that has to do with the roof. Not the walls, their construction material or protective products.


Special attention to roof details is a priority

Rule number one for roofs in the tropics is to have wide eaves. It is suggested that you go for a minimum of 4 ft or 1,20 meters wide. Not only this passive technique will give you different options for aesthetics  and improve the looks of the house, but it will protect walls from rain, it will project shadows that will protect the house from excessive sun incidence and if structured and built correctly, it will give some extra stability to the general structure of the house
I designed wide eaves all around this house
Rule number two: keep it simple. Ask your architect in Costa Rica to incorporate a roof that has no breaks, turns and less flashing possible. This will simplify the construction a lot, it will help lower your budget, and will reduce the possibility of leaks, specially where roof changes direction.

Two independent-one direction roof design. A small concrete slab collects water in between them.


Rule number three:have the correct slope depending on the selected construction material. First of all try to keep it light. That will help your budget, your house seismic resistance and installation agility. Then try to have a minimum of 15% slope for the roofs, and if you are going to have a flat roof ( suggested to use as roofs separators in small proportions) then go for a small slope of no less than 3%. If you are going for 1% slope, then try to install the selected material in single pieces or sections, so you have no cuts where water could get in.
There also a variety of metal options for roofs. Corrugated galvanized sheets, structural channel, rectangular plate, enameled corrugated sheets, Metal Lock, Total Span, Arcus cover ( aluminum alloy with zinc and silicon). There are also products that already come with an insulation in a “sandwich” form. You can choose to buy all these products already painted or you can decide to pain them after a year of installation, if you select plain zinc.

22% slope of this roof frames an Irazu volcano exceptional view

Rule number four: insulate your roof. You can choose many products in the market like prodex, or fiberglass, but air itself can the best insulator by far. Try to leave twenty centimeters in between your ceiling and the actual roof cover, so air can flow. You must leave an air intake and an outlet, and try to locate these openings where you know there is constant breeze and be ready to design a 30% slope minimum roof.

It also helps when you know where is the mayor wind’s direction, rain fall direction, sun’s heaviest incidence and a proper shadows study. After following these simple steps, now you can relax. You have give a solution to some of the most common design and construction problems in Costa Rica.
It is recommended that you also practice some other passive strategies to help protect your home from leaks, humidity , insects, and many other consequences of our beautiful tropical weather that keeps Costa Rica so green.
Want to learn even more about roof design? Drop a line and contact a tropical modern architect In Costa Rica!

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