The push toward urban living is pushing the envelope for real estate developers, forcing them to become more creative with the space they have.
That means squeezing taller buildings into slimmer spaces, multiplying the housing stock with micro-units and taking living space over the top — literally. Roof decks are raising the stakes.
"The world is shifting toward higher density housing where you don't have much of a yard, or no yard at all and roof decks are becoming the new yard, so you'll see triplex or a large condo complex where the roof is the yard," said John Burns, founder of California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
The cost to builders of adding the decks is easily made up in the returns. Pete Reeb, principal at John Burns, ran the numbers and found the following: More bare-bones decks typically cost builders $15,000 to $20,000 to add to a home and generate $20,000 to $30,000 in revenues.
Larger and more extensive decks are more typical in most markets and cost an average $32,000, but add an average $44,000 in revenues. Roof decks add an average of 6 to 8 percent to the value of a home.
Of course those returns can vary dramatically depending on the view and how tricked out the deck is. It also depends on location, and whether or not the demographic of buyer in the neighborhood really wants that added outdoor space.