Roof Decks and their problems

Wanted to get all of your opinions on this.

In this area (Chicago) there are many condos and townhouses that have roof decks installed. By roof deck, I mean a wooden frame (usually, 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 “joists” with deck planking on top, resting right on the roof covering (usually modified bituman), some times with some extra MB under the joists (as a cushion). This has gotten more and more popular, especially in the area around Wrigley Field (Cubs fans, go figure :mrgreen:).

My beef with these is that the deck will move (temp, humidity, people walking) and the deck will rub against the roof covering and cause tearing. My experience has been that, on a new construction, the roof will start leaking in 3 - 4 years.

It also greatly increases the cost of patching or replacing the roof because you have the added expense of removing the deck.

Local codes to not address this, as of yet. Builder’s respond to me that because it is not, specifically, prohibited by the codes, that it is OK.

Sure, there could be structural concerns (especially when someone puts a huge, dirt filled planter on the deck), but my question is more aimed at the life of the roof.

As for me, I call them out in my reports. “Roof deck resting directly on the roof covering will greatly accelerate the deterioration of the roof covering.”

Also, many good, professional roofers that I know will not work on these roofs, either patching or replacing, because they have seen early leaks and reoccuring leaks and don’t want to be blamed. You know, you touch it and you are, forevermore, responsible for it.

What say you?

Some tradesmen will do anything for a buck no matter how unsafe, or wrong it may be. Hapless Harry Homeowner is just as idiotic.

I have remarked about it when the owner was present to hear me…and after his remarks, I just let it fly! (It’s absolutely **great **to be old and curmudgeonly)

If you make a note in your report about the deck and roof covering that is all you can do. Make sure you note it and don’t estimate life exp. to owner/buyer

We have thousands of them here in Philly too. I have a couple of documents about decks that might interest you. I will have to dig them up and send them to you. I think some of them are from Chicago as a matter of fact.

When (as a carpenter) I built decks that rested on sleepers that rested on EPDM we cut strips of EPDM which were bonded to the bottom of the sleepers for just that reason. Over time, decks without additional protection will wear through and cause leaks.