My Pretty Parapet

My Pretty Parapet

Parapets are uncommon in residential construction so perhaps that’s why ours was overlooked. All through the design process and many sets of eyes on the plans, many of them well-qualified eyes, nobody accounted for it. What’s a parapet you say? It’s that short wall around the perimeter of a flat roof. The smart people at Building Science can tell you all about them. We need one, and not just because the Bible tells us so. Ours would be a simple flat roof if not for two sloped sections projecting upward; one that forms what we call the stair tower and another shorter one over the master bath and closet. It’s concern over the second section that had me calling our general contractor.

[![West elevation drawing with the two roof profiles.](,w_300/v1456609257/parapet-elevation_lv8j7i.jpg)](
The two sloped roof sections.

As the framing moves closer and closer to completion, drawings on paper become more clear in the real world (duh!), especially when the actual house doesn’t (or can’t) match the drawings. Due to an oversight, the drawings didn’t include a parapet roof.

That’s ok, just frame a short wall around the roof, right? Let’s look at the drawings…wait…do we even have space for a short wall there?

I was worried that this extra height would conflict with the sloped roof section over the master closet and bathroom. I called our contractor. He made the executive decision to frame a 1-foot parapet and the roof guy was coming out Monday (today) to talk about the roof. We agreed to see what he said and go from there.

We made it out to the site that evening and sure enough the parapet was framed and we’re actually happy with how it turned out. It doesn’t look exactly like the plans, but it doesn’t look weird. We’re learning that no matter how much you plan, discuss, look at drawings, and visualize you’re not going to capture every detail and decisions will have to be made in the field. So far, everything has worked out ok.

[![Construction photo compared to the drawing.](,w_300/v1456609256/parapet_ynbb8e.jpg)](
Parapet as constructed vs the renderings.
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