One of the most important decisions you make about the house you are going to build is the type of roofing material you use. There are two major ways to go here, tile or synthetic roof sheets.
Heavy tile: Nowadays this is the material of choice. It is very pretty and durable. Tile roofs add value to your house and put it in a different price category -- this becomes important should you decide to sell at some point in the future. The downside for tile is it is extremely heavy, and this requires a large and sturdy metal substructure which is expensive. Tile also cracks and chips easily if it is walked on. This normally isn't an issue except for cases where roof access is required. It is not secure in the sense that someone can easily gain illegal entry to your house by misplacing a few roof tiles.
Synthetic roof sheets: If you know you are building a house to live in forever and are simply not worried about resale value -- this may be the way to go. The roof sheets come in a variety of qualities, materials, and colors and will end up being a lot cheaper to install. As far as I know there are no downsides, EXCEPT (and it is a big except!) it isn't as pretty and if you've built a high quality house with sheet roofing the resale market won't be there.
This is one of those rare instances where paying more money doesn't lead to an increase of quality. If I were put on the spot and had to answer the question, 'Which roofing material is of better quality?', I would have to answer 'Synthetic roof sheeting'. This being said, in the future I will continue to use heavy tile since it is functional and the marketplace demands it.
The heavy tile roofing is all pretty good quality and starts at about 8.2 Baht a piece. One thing I did notice is that they gouge you when you buy the special pieces, ie. the corner pieces or top pieces (which can cost 4 or 5 times as much as a standard piece). When choosing the store and tile you are going to purchase I advise getting a price on all of the pieces up front so you won't be surprised later.
Another option which is recommended and commonly used today, is roofing insulation. This is especially appropriate if you plan to use air conditioning and have a low profile roof, as it will retain much of the cold air and lower your electricity bill.
Example Tile Roof
These are some shots from the cool thai house roof. Three specific things I would suggest when doing a roof: 1). Subcontract the roof out to a company that does only roofs. 2.) Make sure that the aluminum sheeting used in the valley is of proper width, at least a meter wide. The standard aluminum drainage sheeting sold for use in valleys is not sufficient. 3.) Make sure that the supporting walls are completed prior to laying the tile on the roof. Otherwise the roof metal will bend.
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This page was last updated October 2nd, 2009