Replacing an overbearing garage roof with a deck?

ontariomomFebruary 29, 2012

Hi all,

A month ago, I was on the forum showing pictures of our newly-framed house addition. Sadly, the 2D elevation pictures that looked great to us in 2D looked horrible in 3D. After consulting with another architect, and seeing many alternatives in 3D, we have decided to rip off the overbearing garage roof and replace it with a flat roof with deck over top. The original pictures of the ugly garage roof can be seen in the thread entitled "frustrated with split entry". Below you will see a picture of the proposed new look.

Since so many of you took the time to comment and try to help me fix the curb appeal of our house, I thought you might be interested in what solution we arrived at. Do you think having a door and window behind the deck (as opposed to a more symmetrical look) is a problem? Do you like the window design over the front door?

Thanks to all for your support and helpful comments! Btw, my DH doesn't USUALLY look this depressed; it's just the thought of the waste of having to rip off the existing roof, I guess!


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I like the look just fine, but I think there are other issues beyond the aesthetic that will arise here. Will a flat roof actually be able to be approved in your location? It's usually used in warm and dry locations, not for an area with snow loads. Plus, the garage joists will probably have to be reinforced for that snow load if it is allowed, plus all of the waterproofing that will be needed for a roof deck. I think this will be a pretty expensive choice if your municipality approves it.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 11:34PM
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I think this will help the new garage blend in with the structure. I've seen that show Holmes on Homes, which is filmed in Canada, and they have shown flat roofs with decks before. So I think it's possible to have a flat roof with snow loads (all of Canada is a vast, snowy, hinterland - right?)

Do you think you'll use the roof deck? Or would it be more for looks?

I'm sorry you are going through this, but I think you will be happier with it in the end.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:07AM
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Hi Live wire oak and EngineerChic,

Thank you both for your replies. I am glad you like the look. We do not have a deck in our back as it faces south, and I find it too hot in the summer. This new deck faces north and has a better view. So, yes we will use it as a deck. It will only be 18'X 10' though so space will be limited.

As per the structural concerns, there are others around here that have done the same kind of roof with deck above. We are in southern Ontario so snow fall is similar to a northern state like New York. From our discussions with the structural engineer, it can be done. Our framer has done it before and we have located a roofer who is experienced with the rubber roof system needed. So, yes it is tricky to build, and we will need to proceed carefully to ensure it is done correctly. It does cost more too, but given the size it is affordable.

What do you think about the door and window in the dormers behind the deck? Does this look okay to you? What about the window over the main door?


    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:29AM
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Here's your other photo for comparison:

I think it is certainly an improvement. Not only in the massing of the garage, but the window over the door looks better. It's simpler, and I never understood where that arch was coming from anyway.

I am not completely crazy about the short length of the window on the left, compared to all the other fenestration on the second storey.

Do push back on the engineer and confirm those loads. I was born in upstate NY and am fully aware that there are plenty of flat-topped roofs there. However, as you may be aware, the NE US received abnormally huge snowfall last year, and if you're doing new construction, you should prepare for the new weather patterns.

Also--you should look at the street side perspective from eye level. Seems that got you into trouble before.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Hi Marcolo,

Thanks for your input and vote! Glad you think it is an improvement. We did get a chance to see this garage in 3D via Sketch-up. We also looked at several other roof solutions in Sketch-up and felt this was our preferred. We meet with the engineer on Monday. We will be sure to make our concerns over snow loads crystal clear. It is my understanding from the architect that the roof will slope very slightly to the East with gutters on that side only.

When you wrote: "I am not completely crazy about the short length of the window on the left" I am assuming you were referring to the window beside the glass door (both above garage)? Do you have any other suggestions to make this look better?

Thanks for your help?


    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Since I was the one who originally suggested a flat roof, I'm glad you saw the wisdom of my recommendation ;)
If the drainage is properly detailed, it will be great. Hopefully the engineering isn't prohibitive.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:23PM
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Ensure that the engineer understands you will have a finished deck structure, furniture and people up there, and that you also expect the possibility of more significant snowfall in the future. I've used SEs recently who, after prompting from me, offered ideas that went beyond code to reassure me.

I'd just raise that window issue with the architect. Do you see what I mean--it's the only window of that scale on the facade? If it went lower, it would match better. However, that may not be practical for what is probably a bedroom, and may not be as much of a discordance in real life.

Good luck! If the deck works, at least this long painful process will result in an enjoyable, value-added feature that you never even planned on in the first place.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Oh! One more thing. What is that railing material? If it were glass ($$$$) or wire cable, it would be transparent and do the trick in reducing the garage mass. However, if it's traditional railing or a fence-like design, it will make the garage look bigger. I think your house is mod enough to support a wire cable railing.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Hi Marcolo and Casey,

Yes, Casey I just reread your posts on the original thread. You do deserve credit and appreciation for suggesting the flat roof with access from the bedroom. I will confess, that I had forgotten you had suggested that idea first -- there were so many helpful suggestions made from many GW posters. I did give the link to the second architect (who happens to by my BIL). Perhaps he picked up on your suggestion. Also, I really like the elimination of the cat slide roof, and I believe you were also one of the posters who encouraged us to address this issue. So thanks!!

Marcolo, we are planning on a clear railing (plexiglass I believe is the material) so it will be as transparent as possible and not block the windows above. We did think about putting in two glass doors instead of a window and door over the garage. However, it does beg the questions why we would need two doors in a small space. The window on the left (above garage) is a two year old good quality window, so I wouldn't mind using it -- but will give it up if the look is not right. Since it is the front of the house, I want it to look good. Picking up on your ideas, perhaps a lower window in line with the one over the front living room on right would be better.

Does anyone else have an opinion on the door and window combination over the garage (and behind the proposed railing)? Thanks!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Why all the glass in the top gable? I would rather see some different arrangement for the glass and louvers to work together. Or do all glass and have two of the upper/center ones be motor-actuated controlled from a thermostat to ventilate. Or do away with the louvers and have a ridge vent.
I think the door/window in the two projecting box bays is fine in RL, but just looks odd in elevation, IOW don't sweat it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Hi Casey,

Actually, the upper gable in the attic is actually all glass with two awnings at the bottom half of the middle windows. The architect who did the 3D images was working from a different city and things got lost in translation. There are no lovers at all. The windows in the upper gable have now been installed.

Thanks for the reassurance on the window/door behind the deck.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I think it looks fine. The only concern that I have with the design overall is that neither entry door will have any weather protection. Neither the man door into the garage nor the main entry into the house have a porch or a real overhang that will keep off the rain and snow while someone is fumbling with the keys trying to unlock them to get into the house. That is a BIG issue to me, and one I would want corrected at least with the formal entry, which is where guests will arrive.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Hi hollysprings,

Thanks again for your thoughts. I totally agree with the need for shelter in the entry -- especially the guest entrance. There is about 4 feet of shelter at the guest entrance as the guest entrance is recessed. When we remove the cat slide roof we will keep the same depth of shelter -- that is very important to me as well. There is no shelter at the man door that the kids will use. Most of the time DH and I will arrive home by driving right into the garage. I did ask about incorporating some shelter over the man door, but the architect reminded me that it would block the view/light from the main door, so I left it. At least there will not be any gutters near either door.

Thanks for your help.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 5:00PM
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