Overloaded Roofs & Terraces

July 23, 2021

In the wake of the Surfside tragedy, many building owners and Co-Op and Condo Boards are concerned about their parking garages. However, it is crucial to be giving as much attention to what is over your head as to what is underneath your building. HLZAE is here to help you better understand what that means for your building and how to prepare.

Across the urban landscape of New York City, the roof terrace has become a ubiquitous retreat and oasis for city dwellers, often with elaborate plantings, irrigation systems, and furnishing. Although these spaces provide an enjoyable experience to their inhabitants, they may be negatively impacting the building structure. The roof can easily be overloaded with too many, too heavy, or ill-placed items that can stress the structural capacity, cause structural damage, accelerate deterioration, and potentially lead to structural failure.

Roof terraces should be thoughtfully designed and planned just like any alteration to a building. When placing pavers, planters, furnishings, and other larger and heavy items on the roof, it is important to consider: 

  • Potential load capacity  
  • Original structural design
  • Age of the building 
  • Type of construction being considered
  • Quality of past maintenance 

In addition to the size and weight, the location of those items can also be critical in how they impact the roof. Any proposed landscape designs should be reviewed by a structural engineer to ensure proper loading of the roof prior to installation.

If existing installations were not originally reviewed by an engineer or they have expanded with additional elements over time, HLZAE would advise to have them assessed for the existing structural impact and make modifications accordingly to ensure the safety of your building.

Through engineering review of both proposed and existing designs, HLZAE can help keep your roof (and those under it) safe and keep you at ease:

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