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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Kelley

Shelter Your Family with a Stunning & Sustainable Roof Design

Do you love to sit and hear the pitter-patter of raindrops on your porch roof? These soothing, rhythmic sounds can help you relax and focus as you enjoy the wonders of nature. Your roof lets you delight in the experience. Roofing for your home is not only about protecting you from the elements. It allows you to select aesthetically pleasing roof designs that are ecologically beneficial and aligned with your budget. 

Roof materials have evolved significantly over the centuries, using materials native to a particular region and adapting to changing needs and technologies. From thatched roofs in the Cotswold to clay tiles in Mediterranean villages, traditional roofing showcases regional expertise and environmental awareness. As sustainability becomes a greater priority, new options like solar roof tiles and green roofs are gaining popularity. 

Let's explore traditional and emerging trends of roofing materials, costs and incentives for green roofs, and the benefits of solar technology when designing your custom home.

Roofs of the past based on natural resources

Over the centuries, roofing materials have been developed based on locally available natural resources. In many European villages, thatched roofs were typical, using the abundant native grasses and reeds. These roofs not only kept out the elements but also provided excellent insulation. 

As I traveled through the Cotswold in England, I was struck by the beauty of the thatched roofs, which have endured for generations.

Clay tiles were popular in the Mediterranean region, taking advantage of the local clay soil. Tiles were shaped by hand over the craft person's thighs and are still featured today in this subtle, elegant, tapered design, reflecting the traditional forming technique.

Slate is another durable material, as I discovered on a visit to a quarry in Renazé, France. The slate quarry supplied high-quality stone, cut and installed on homes throughout the area's villages, creating roofs that have withstood the test of time. In contrast, the houses constructed in the Italian Alps featured thick slabs of local slate, resulting in stunning and long-lasting roofs.

Climate influences roof design. Flat roofs are typical in deserts, while steeper roofs are preferred in wet and cold areas. Local materials can help regulate temperatures, although they may require more maintenance than modern roofing options.

By choosing local materials for your roof, you can ensure they are adapted to the regional climate and weather conditions. This can help your home align with the local architectural style and seamlessly blend into the existing built environment.

Be budget-friendly with TPO roofing

When choosing a roof for your home, consider using materials native to your area. A flat roof might be a suitable option if you have a modern design. Historically, tar and asphalt roofs were standard, involving several layers of tar, asphalt paper, and gravel slag.

However, a newer thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membrane roof comes in a single thick layer and is much easier to install through a glue-down process. TPO is a more durable and leak-proof option than the old tar and asphalt roofing methods and allows for different insulation strategies that will keep your home warm in the winter.

A TPO roof membrane can be used for flat or low-sloped roofs and could be a cost-effective option for an addition or an older home undergoing re-roofing.

Choose the popular trend of metal roofing

When choosing a roofing material, consider aesthetics and style, not just cost. Metal roofing has become popular again. Once commonly used for agricultural buildings, corrugated metal roofing has become a trendy design element for both roofs and walls of homes. 


In my previous home in California, we had a corrugated metal roof because it suited the trendy beach look. I loved the sound of raindrops tapping on the roof.  Metal roofs are used extensively in Australia, where the corrugated profile is part of the vernacular architecture.  

Another popular roofing option is a standing metal seam with a distinct narrow or wide panel pattern that creates visual interest.

Metal roofs have had a resurgence in residential architecture, replicating traditional aesthetics with more modern interpretations. Their longevity and low maintenance can make them an attractive option for your dream home.

Create energy with a solar roof

When choosing the style of your roof, it's essential to consider the impact on the environment. In the past, if you wanted to generate electricity for your home, you would install solar panels. 

However, solar roofing technology is advancing to make renewable energy generation more aesthetically pleasing. Companies like Tesla and Certainteed have developed solar roof tiles that blend seamlessly into traditional tile roofs. These tiles can replace existing materials while harnessing the sun's power.

Tesla's solar roof aims to provide a complete solar solution by making the whole roof surface a power source. Individual solar tiles are installed to resemble standard roofing tiles from the street, offering a cleaner appearance than bolting on separate solar panels. Certainteed also creates hybrid tiles that are partially solar-capable for those wanting some renewable aspects.

Integrated solar tiles are more appealing visually than conventional add-on solar panels. This allows you to produce renewable energy without compromising aesthetics.

Incentives like federal tax credits make solar power generation more financially viable, especially the government's 30% incentives, which could significantly reduce the upfront costs. While installation requires an investment, savings on energy bills and income from excess power sold back to the grid help offset the initial costs over time.

The environmental benefits, sustainability, and growing interest drive further innovation and adoption of renewable energy solutions, making a solar roof design worth considering for your custom home.

Design a green roof for the environment.

Like solar, green roofs are an emerging trend in sustainable roofing design. Planted roofs can provide benefits like increased lifespan for the roof itself, noise reduction, air purification, and aesthetic appeal. A green roof on your dream home can be very versatile.

A green roof can help to lower temperatures in urban environments through added insulation. Green roofs also improve stormwater management by slowing drainage and allowing more absorption, assisting with overflows during heavy rainfall. Another benefit is helping nature by creating new habitats for plants and animals in the area.

Design your home with a green roof oasis, a secluded location where you can relax and tend to your plants, reducing stress and increasing your well-being.

Although the initial costs of installing a green roof can be high, maintenance is relatively simple. The slow-growing ground covers and succulents that typically comprise green roofs need minimal care. Due to their drought-resistant design, some extensive green roofs can even go without water for long periods.

In one of my current residential projects, my clients and I are considering the potential for a green roof on the flat areas. We are currently exploring affordable green roof system options.

Roof design for your custom home

Roofing materials and technologies have evolved significantly over the centuries based on environmental and aesthetic considerations. When selecting the roof of your custom home, consider indigenous resources and popular trends. 

New opportunities exist to reduce your environmental impact through renewable energy generation and green infrastructure. Integrate solar power and planted landscapes into roof designs to support your sustainability goals and contribute to your well-being. With guidance from a professional architect, your roof design can be aesthetically pleasing while balancing costs and long-term benefits. 

If you want to build a custom home that aligns with your style and shelters your family from the elements, call me, and let's begin the conversation.

Tel: 858-344-2404, or email:

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