TV presenter, architect & Grand Designs Live ambassador George Clarke shares his latest tips and ideas
'A well-known architect once said that "all buildings should have a hat", meaning a roof should not only protect the building beneath from the elements, but be a prominent architectural element to reinforce its style. So, if this is the case, the type of roof you choose may be even more important than its function.
'The most common roof in the UK is a simple pitched style, sloping from front to back, which performs its function very well. It's easy and inexpensive to build and tends to dominate the skyline of most domestic streets in Britain. When modernist architecture found favour in the mid-twentieth century, flat roofs became popular.
However, they didn't drain well and the materials used weren't up to the job, which meant water was soon a regular sight inside these buildings.
'Thankfully, technology has moved on at a fantastic pace. There are now more innovative materials on the market for roof design. The architectural detailing is also of a much higher standard to ensure our roofs are well-insulated, structurally sound and don't leak. This means the shape and profile of your roof can, within reason, be any shape you want.
Companies such as Sika Sarnafil (01707 394 444; gbr.sarnafil.sika.com) provide an incredible level of technical service to create the perfect roof for your grand design, plus industry guarantees offer peace of mind that if anything does become a problem, it will soon be resolved.
'Green roofs in their many guises – turf, sedum or more intensive roof gardens – are becoming incredibly popular. They not only give back the green space that was lost when you built your home, but can also help when it comes to gaining planning permission. Whether it's a rural or urban environment, a green turfed roof can make a new building more attractive aesthetically to neighbours whose homes look down on to yours.
'The recently completed Forest Mews project in south London by Robert and Jessica Barker, a finalist in this year's Grand Designs Awards, is a brilliant case in point. Three new homes were proposed in a small mews, surrounded by several existing properties overlooking the development. It meant the design and specification of the new roof was everything. Thanks to the sensitively designed sloping green roofs, not a single neighbour complained when the planning application was submitted.
At the design stage, make sure your architects give the same level of thought to any new or replacement roof you're considering.'