Beware of contractors who do not obtain permits, warns John West, owner of JW Landscapes.
"With rooftops, especially, you have to play by the book," he
"The building codes are there to keep you safe."
Most codes say rooftop walls must be at least 42 inches high, for example, and omit horizontal rails that encourage climbing.
begins each project by making sure the roof can support the weight of the design components.
determines the client's budget and how the client intends to use the space.
For flooring, West
prefers modular decking that fits on a fixed frame, which houses the plumbing and electrical infrastructure.
"I like ipe because it lasts 100 years," he
"But composite and synthetic products give you a wood look for less money."
likes to mix wood with stone or reconstituted concrete tiles that radiate the heat back to avoid a "heat island effect."
For walls, West
prefers masonry or railings over glass, which requires frequent cleaning.
A "green screen" of plants on the perimeter deters people from the edge and positions water-draining plants near the edge.
For amenities, West
includes everything from showers to full kitchens.
uses energy-efficient LED lighting to up-light, down-light and accent design features.
Outdoor furniture for rooftop terraces should be sturdy, durable and weigh enough to stay put.
"I know one (Chicagoan) whose aluminum furniture blew off the roof and damaged 26 cars," West