It is estimated that there are about 360 garden roofs in the city of Chicago, either partially or fully covered with vegetation, accounting for around 5,469,463 square feet of rooftop garden space. Although that seems like a large number, it’s actually a very small percentage of the total roofing market in Chicago. Is it better to have a garden roof? We take a look at some of the facts behind these interesting roofs.

How Much Do Garden Roofs Cost?

The average size of your typical garden roof is about 5,234 square feet. Since the year 2000, about one third of Chicago roofing contractors have been involved in the rooftop garden market. While these interesting roofs saw a surge of popularity at one time, the number of annual projects has been on the decline.

Why is this? A rooftop garden can be a surprisingly costly project, and if it’s not installed correctly, it can create headaches down the line. A conventional low-slope roof costs anywhere from $4-10 per square foot depending on the insulation, roof membrane type, and access point from which workers can carry up materials. When it’s all said and done, a garden roof can be 2-5 times the cost of a conventional roof, making them too expensive for ownership.

Plus, garden roofs are regulated by the International Fire Code (IFC), meaning owners must adhere to the strict code laws that fall under International Building Code (IBC). Chapter 15 of the IBC points to wind uplift hazards, including equipment and objects that can cause hazards due to wind, water, snow, fire, and hail exposure. Should any aspect of your garden roof get away from you, you may be subject to fines.

Is It Better to Have a Garden Roof?

Many people may think it is better to have a garden roof because they offer more livable green space to your home or property. While there are some added environmental benefits to these green roofs, such as reducing stormwater runoff and absorbing more carbon dioxide, it often just makes sense to construct or retrofit these systems.

In many cases, a cool roofing system is more economical while still providing a great deal of environmental benefits. Better yet, restoring and maintaining your current system may be the economical and practical solution.

Find Roofing Solutions with NIR

Rooftop gardens are definitely a way to get more green space into your home, but before you install one, you need to consider the pros and cons. To determine the right fit for your roofing needs, contact the roofing professionals at NIR. We can walk you through your options and help you choose the right roofing solution for you and your building

Categories: NIR Blog


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