In Summary
  • The two contractors say they jointly have four other similar projects underway in Kamulu and Ruai, on the outskirts of Nairobi, indicating how investors are now embracing this model of house roof construction.

When Joshua Mogere was ready to build a house, he knew he wanted a roof that would be different from common ones he had seen when he was shopping around for a roof design.

He had in mind the kind of roofs popular in the coastal region, but was not sure if they were ideal for mainland Kenya, where he intended to construct his family home.

Flat-roofed houses, according to construction experts, have always been a preserve of the coastal region, where most of the house architecture is synonymous with the predominance of Arab culture.

According to Ephantus King’ori, one of the two directors of Abib Jaus, a construction company that specialises in designing and building flat-roofed houses, many of the coastal homeowners prefer flat roofs because they afford them a panoramic view, particularly that of the ocean, from the deck on top of their house.

When Mr Mogere approached Mr King’ori for advice on the roofing design, Mr King’ori presented the coastal roof design to him. As the name suggests, flat roofs tend to be even, with no pitch. They, however, have a slight pitch to allow for water run-off and drainage, controlling rainwater from pooling on the roof. This design is characteristic of Egyptian, Persian and Arabian architecture styles.

NO LONGER A COASTAL PRESERVE

There may be no ocean breeze to enjoy in Kenya’s mainland, but with minimal modifications, flat roofs can be converted for other uses.

According to Duncan Ndung’u, also a property developer, the pitch of a flat roof should be gentle, a factor that allows the surface to be used as a terrace, a rooftop living room or lounge, patio, gazebo, or partly enclosed to create a penthouse or even a mini-garden. “Some investors add an additional waterproofing component and mount a swimming pool on top of their flat-roofed houses,” he adds.

Flat-roofed houses, says Mr King’ori, form the perfect setting for minimalism, modernity and an even avant-garde design. House cooling and heating systems, he adds, can be placed on the flat roofs, keeping them out of sight, while at the same time providing a conducive format for installing solar panels, for supplementing energy supply in the house, making the home more energy-efficient.

TEMPERATURE REGULATOR

“This kind of roofing is also durable, does not require frequent replacing of worn-out or broken roofing tiles, needs no inordinate paintwork, is less predisposed to destruction by wind and saves on the cost of buying trusses, and the ceiling board,” notes Mr Ndung’u.

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