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A roof over your head - What roofing options are there in NZ?

Updated: Feb 14

Rooves were invented to protect us and our possessions from the weather, and a watertight roof is rightly a major concern for home owners. It’s also a concern for local councils: when you apply for a consent involving new buildings or extensions and additions, you will be required to specify the roofing material on the plans.

It makes sense to choose the right materials for your roof and an architect will be able to offer advice, but you would be wise to do your own research too. Currently long run steel and tiles are the most popular choices in New Zealand, but given the wide range of roofing materials available, how do you choose what’s right for you?

Probably the biggest factor to consider is the geographical location you live in, as this really impacts on the roofing types you can use. Areas prone to wind, earthquakes, hailstorms and snow all present different challenges for roofing materials.

In addition, it’s worth considering the following:

  • Cost – how does it compare, both for the initial upfront cost and also over the lifetime of the roofing?

  • Performance – does it have good wind resistance? What insulation properties does it offer? What is the fire rating?

  • Durability – what is its expected lifespan and how much maintenance is required?

  • Sustainability – does it have a high carbon footprint? Is it made from renewable or recycled sources? Can you collect rainwater?

  • Warranty – is there a warranty or guarantee of the product and for how long?

In New Zealand, there are six main roofing materials to choose from and the general descriptions below are a good starting point for finding out what’s best for your situation.

Metal: lightweight Coloursteel or long run steel roofing remains one of the most popular roofing choices. It is easy to install, there are a wide range of colours and it can be curved. Other metal choices include pressed steel tiles that give the look of a tile without the weight, are strong under high wind and very durable. Copper is also an option for roofs, especially for homes with tank water collection as copper inhibits bacterial growth.

Tiles: concrete or clay tiles are a popular roofing material as they are very durable and long lasting, and require little maintenance. They also do well in high wind locations, do not corrode and have low rain noise. They are however very heavy and require additional framing support. Clay tiles are also vulnerable to hail damage and can crack easily.

Asphalt shingles: quickly growing in popularity due to the ease of installation and distinctive look, they are rot resistant and do not corrode in salt air. They have a lifespan of around 25 years but are yet to be proven long term in the New Zealand environment.

Membrane roofing: membranes are suitable for flat or curved roofs with a maximum of 10-degree pitch and have the benefit of expanding and shrinking with heat changes. Membrane roofing can also be used as the base for a ‘green roof’ garden.

Timber shingles: with their natural look timber shingles are usually made from imported western red cedar, and with a lifespan of seven to ten years, are best left to dryer areas of the country as they can rot quickly.

Slate: cut from stone, slate is a very heavy roofing material. Beautiful but expensive, it requires significant framing support, but can last for up to 400 years.

Further information? if you want further advice on building materials, we have a network of great architects that we work with and can refer you to. If you’re located in a sensitive landscape, you should consider your roofing options in that context also as this could affect any resource consent application (take a look at our blogs on building in sensitive landscapes and colours in sensitive landscapes). For any questions on how this impact on resource consent requirements, please get in contact with our team.

Tracy is a Planner with an M.Sc. in Resource Management.

Tracy has worked assisting Senior Planners with the preparation and lodgement of resource consent applications, as well as planning. She also provided support in client liaison, contractor engagement and general communications.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

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