Top Mistakes to Avoid When Adding Rooftop Amenities to Your Development Project

    by Brandon Reed / September 14, 2017

    designing rooftop amenities utah, green architects utah, rooftop amenity design utah, utah landscape architect, landscape architect utah, green roof design utah, amenity 

    Rooftop amenities are a lucrative way to create a relaxing oasis with a spectacular view atop a mixed-use development project in Utah. Nonetheless, certain considerations should be taken by developers to avoid mistakes or potential problems while they are still in the planning phase of the project.

    This article will cover some of the most common mistakes when adding rooftop amenities, and how to avoid them.

    1. Not defining a clear development vision for rooftop amenities

    More and more developers have become aware that rooftop amenities are well worth the investment. The purposes of rooftop spaces, however, are something that must be taken into consideration during the planning phase. How will you use your recreational space? Grilling? Gardening? A Pool and Hot Tub?

    Not having a clearly defined vision for the rooftop amenities you want to incorporate in your development from the beginning will impact your project in terms of cost and delivery, for leaving it to the mid-construction stage will cost more, and might entail major adjustments to the original schedule.

    2. Not realizing the value of landscape architecture 

    Notwithstanding the substantial value that landscape architectural and urban design professionals can add to mixed-use developments, many developers do not retain such specialists to design their roofs at an early stage of the project or leave it up the architect. This may be due to a lack of knowledge of the importance of engaging a landscape architecture to design their amenities, or a conscious decision based on a short-term perspective that the cost exceeds the benefits. However, when a developer forgoes use of a landscape architect to design their roof deck spaces, he increases the risk that the rooftop amenities will not meet his requirements concerning performance, cost, appearance, or longevity.


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    3. Not understanding design implications for a successful rooftop development

    The development of rooftop spaces can be unlimited in design or functionality. Almost without exception, they become a dynamic and integral part of the structure they occupy, and as such, a lot of initial planning, strategy, and conceptual design are required.  The landscape architect addresses critical infrastructure questions about drainage systems, load capacities, paving systems and materials, furnishings and seating requirements, and general project specifications. They develop detailed plans as well as accurate construction budget ranges and performance specifications. This process ensures the amenities are built as designed and within the established budget targets.

    Failure to attend to these requirements can result in costly mistakes and increased lifetime project costs. It goes without saying, then, that developers need to fully understand that early design decisions not only enhance the beauty of the rooftop project, they also protect their investment for years to come.


    4. Lack of coordination among key players

    Rooftop environments require a distinct set of structures and systems in place to sustain the developer's vision while addressing functional and technical challenges. Loading capacities, drainage, waterproofing, power, construction accessibility before and after construction, wind, safety, and ease of maintenance, among others - all have to be addressed at the front end of any new development that includes rooftop amenities. While it is certainly not beyond good planning and design for a qualified landscape architect to creatively address these issues, it is important to point out the interdisciplinary effort necessary to ensure the successful implementation of high level rooftop amenities.

    Architectural, Structural, plumbing and electrical engineers, as well as the landscape architect need to sit down together and anticipate the constraints, challenges, and opportunities that will arise. Those conversations need to happen all through the design and construction phases. The earlier in the planning process you can get the team together, the faster and more valuable the final rooftop amenity project will be.

    5. Losing control of the budget

    One of the most common mistakes in development projects that comprise rooftop amenities is that developers do not know where to begin to budget for them from the beginning, and fail to include them in the proforma. As a result, losing control of the budget is almost unavoidable.

    When you’re starting a rooftop project, its important to know your options and how to set your budget up-front. Do your research, know what you want and create a “grocery list”. Then engage a qualified and specialized landscape architect to work on design options of amenity programming and layout scenarios. If you lack the budget to implement your entire dream plan, consider having your rooftop amenities completed in phases. You can then, still implement a “phased installation,” while having your landscape architect complete an approved set of construction drawings that you can use for future phases and/or pass on to future building investors/owners if you decide to sell you development in the future.


    6. Not understanding what is allowed

    Much like any other project, checking and planning for local building codes is all part of the design process. Depending on the scope of work and the zoning of your property, your roof deck project may require the submittal of a building permit application and several accompanying pre-application steps. Be sure you get the right information and approvals for your project before you begin designing and building. A council has a right to force you to change, alter or even remove your amenities completely if you do not follow their guidelines.


    Final thoughts

    You are about to embark on an exciting venture, but make sure you engage a specialized landscape architect experienced in designing rooftop amenities in the early design phase of your development project. Of course, the best ones will make sure they are an integral part of the project, while at the same time protecting you against the many pitfalls along the way.

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    Tags: Rooftop Amenity Design Risk Management

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    Brandon Reed

    Brandon Reed

    I help top level architects and developers create landscapes that elevate the human experience.

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