'Tis the Season for Rooftop Decks
It seems as if it happened overnight: a long and rainy winter turned into what could be mistaken as the middle of summer here in the Bay Area, and everyone is gladly stepping outside.
Which means now is the season of BBQs, gardening and spending more time outdoors. The biggest trend Craig has seen in the outdoor design space as of late is rooftop decks, particularly in urban areas such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.
“With the rise in tech jobs, people have more money to spend and want a great place to entertain,” he says. And with many hi-rises, clients have to think vertically. Add to that, climate change means more days spent outside.
According to a real estate consulting website, stylish new rooftop deck designs are adding tens of thousands of dollars in revenue per house for new home builders. And although rooftop deck building isn’t new – sustainable, better withstanding materials are, which gives a reason for homeowners to throw tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars toward these luxurious deck projects.
“What used to be a few folding chairs and some kind of deck put in place has transformed into fire pits with a built-in BBQ, sink, and a lot more refinement to it all.”
It’s all in the details
A well-built deck withstands the test of time and also features materials that look more polished. Ipe and Redwood are among the most popular, says Craig, and red and yellow Cedar is a close second. And alternatively, there’s a slew of composites, or man-made decking, with brands such as Trex and Azek that make for great options.
Beyond materials, it’s all about the intricacy of detail. “There’s a pedestal system that allows you to do large concrete squares and that’s a stylish detail. It’s a bit more industrial/commercial, and a lot of these options come down to the price point.”
As far as railing goes, glass guard railing is a big trend, as well as cable rail. “There’s been a bunch of technology done lately in the type of glass and how it is laminated and tempered where you don’t have to have a top rail – so visually it’s like you don’t even need this top one-inch piece of metal that would be obstructing your view,” says Craig.
Lighting is a big factor as well, and Craig aims to keep lighting down low on the surface where people walk. Another big trend is the installation of radiant heaters (a must for windy San Francisco nights) and bistro lighting, reminiscent of popular surrounding restaurants.
Rusty protruding nails and splinters galore have also received an upgrade. “There is all kinds of hardware and brackets and posts that hold the system together – way back in the day, people were using nails, so everything is becoming quicker and easier to build, and remains stronger.” In the middle of revamping his own deck, Craig recently purchased a CAMO deck fastener, where it conceals all the screw heads, resulting in a cleaner and safer deck build.
Current projects include a 500-square foot roof deck project in the Marina District (see top photos) – essentially an outdoor lounge, as well as his own home deck in Woodacre, which will be an extension of the dining room since his family prefers to dine outdoors as much as possible. “I started demoing and realized there was a lot more extensive damage to the existing deck than I thought so I took down 30-year old parts of the deck that were not put in correctly,” he says. Craig is having fun working “bags on” and actually helping with the actual construction of his design. His goal is to have the deck complete and furnished by Memorial Day.
Making up for 25% of his business, Craig enjoys designing and building decks as being less maintenance than indoor projects.
“There’s more of a casual feel to building decks, as you don’t have furniture and a roof to work around as well as very high-end materials like Calcutta marble. Plus, it’s fun to work around natural lighting.”