Though most homeowners don’t know it, you can now add a retractable roof to any number of living areas in your home. You can enjoy the same type of luxury as the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Astros, even Wimbledon. Sound intriguing, but not very plausible? Think again. Here’s the what, where, how, and why of retractable roofs for your home. As for the when? Well, the sooner, the better (although mild weather always helps with construction).
How can Retractable Roofs be used for Homes?
Some manufacturers have begun actively marketing retractable roofing to homeowners. And the technology is quickly catching on to the possibilities. Polycarbonate (PC) sheets offer incredible advantages when applied to retractable roofs: Their lightweight allows for easier mobile assembly, their UV resistance allows you to enjoy the sun without frying your skin in 10 minutes, their insulating value works for all climates, and they have comparable impact and fire-resistance to other forms of roofing. Your sunroom, deck, or patio enclosure will never be the same.
It’s great to say how, but savvy homeowner that you are, the real question you want to ask is how much? As sportswriter Anthony Schoettle said, “It’s easier to guard Larry Fitzgerald one-on-one than it is to pinpoint how much more the retractable roof cost than a standard roof.” Although Schoettle was referring to Lucas Oil Stadium, without some idea of the location, type, size, and features of the retractable roof you have in mind, the same difficulty applies to cost estimates for residential application. A simple, retractable patio enclosure might be installed for only a few thousand dollars, but you could easily spend many tens of thousands of dollars for a retractable roof for a large area with all the bells and whistles. The correct question to ask is how much more your roof will cost to make it retractable and how much of your total project cost is being consumed by this single feature? These questions will allow you to keep perspective, as many homeowners experience sticker shock when pricing any type of major home renovation or addition.
Why Retractable Roofs? Cash in on Flexibility
Retractable roofs are quite a bit more expensive than their stationary brethren, for both sports venues and residential homes. Yet, the flexibility in creating a desirable outdoor venue without sacrificing its year-round viability can be a money-maker for many locations. No better illustration exists than Safeco Field in Seattle, home of the Seattle Mariners. For the four to five months of the year that comprise the heart of the baseball season, the Puget Sound area enjoys pleasantly warm temperatures and sunny skies. The rest of the year, it’s a dreary, drizzling mess. You don’t want to waste some of the best weather in the country, but you can’t spend half a billion dollars on a building you’re only going to use for a third of the year.
The same logic applies to residential roofing. Although you don’t charge admission to your home, you need to enjoy your home office, home gym, sunroom, deck, or patio to its greatest potential without being chained to shifting jet streams and weather reports. Moreover, a new deck, patio, or home addition might cost ten, twenty, even fifty grand or more. By paying more for a retractable roof, you can expand the capacity, amenities, and schedule of everything underneath it, allowing you to maximize your project’s value. It’s also worth noting the advantages of retractable roofs apply not just to greater flexibility in use, but also in flexible design. These projects from LIBART Enclosure Systems show how retractable roofs can be freestanding or attached to your home.
Where are the Best Places for these Roofs? Listen to Mother Nature
It’s not just the dry and rainy seasons of Seattle that play a central role in choosing retractable roofs. The cold, wet weather of the Midwest has spawned several retractable roof venues: Miller Park in Milwaukee, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. And you might not think it at first, but hot climates are also popular places for retractable roofs that are needed for feasible air conditioning. Chase Field in Phoenix allows for the temperatures inside the stadium to drop 30 degrees below the outside temperature. Reliant Stadium in Houston boasts 12,000 tons of air conditioning harrumph.
It’s no different for homeowners. In the Midwest and Northeast, you would do well to install a pool enclosure for any residential pool to lengthen the swimming season. Alternately, a retractable awning to provide cover from the rain might be enough for patios and decks—you can use patio heaters to help out in early spring and late autumn. (Another possibility includes a retractable roofing feature for attic decks.)
In the Southwest, however, you would do well to take a page from the playbook of your local sports team: Consider a retractable deck or patio covering which includes an outdoor misting system. In the middle of the day, when conventional wisdom suggests you stay indoors or perish, you can roll out your own A/C roofing system and drop the outdoor temperature on your deck by 30 degrees. (For some homes in the Southwest, another possibility includes retractable roofing for an interior courtyard.)
What is the Best Application for these Roofs? Sunrooms
I mean, think about it—it’s called a sunroom and has a design that’s meant to let in sunlight without sacrificing indoor climate control. What better place for a retractable roof? What better way to stamp your home with a remarkable and distinctive feature? This doesn’t take away from the plausibility of retractable pool enclosures, deck awnings, patio coverings, or even retractable roofs over part of your primary residence, like a recent home office addition. But sunrooms seem like a natural fit that pack the most punch for their expense. A modern sunroom can easily include the same level of comfort as the rest of your home, plus all the benefits of outdoor living, making it the best room in the house. Check out this retractable sunroom gallery from L.I.TRA.