Where Drizzy’s Drizzle gonna go? And other mansard roof raps.
By Keith Tripp, 2020 Text to 416-320-8863
This new build on Park Lane Circle in Toronto’s (does anyone call it the Six ?) prestigious Bridle Path area is, according to multiple media reports, the property of Toronto recording artist Drake, Aubrey Drake Graham aka Drizzy.
This style of roof is called mansard. This mansard roof style is increasingly popular on new infill mansions. Height restrictions, and the demand for interior ceiling heights of 10 feet and up are probably contributors to the popularity of the mansard. It is a way of disguising an otherwise unattractive flat roof.
At this Park Lane Circle home, based on photos available on the internet, there is a flat roof hidden by the mansard sides. This mansard roof is finished with a combination of shingles and metal roofing material. The metal has a nice pewter look. The sides project vertically above the flat roof level. The mansard sides offer protection from view for substantially sized HVAC equipment installed on the flat roof. The mansard roof is doing double duty as functional cladding and a false front for aesthetics. The attic space behind the sides is presumably about half way up the walls. The portholes through the mansard sides (a wee bit on the ugly side do you agree?) most likely are for ventilation of that attic space. These are my assumptions based on viewing the property from the road and looking at photos on-line.
What’s unique about this house is that the roof is offset to the inside of the exterior cladding. There is effectively a ledge on top of the exterior cladding. Note the snow sitting on this ledge. There is no visible gutter system, and you have to look very closely to see a downspout. Because there is no roof overhang to provide air flow for attic venting, the large portholes will be providing cross-flow venting through the attic space. With this roof, most of the roof water will be collected at the flat roof and disposed of through a drain system that may be built in to the walls of the house. Some water will be captured by the mansard sides and will require management. I suspect there is a gutter trough neatly concealed at the base of that mansard roof, behind the masonry units, and downspouts are either concealed or are at the sides of the house. The porthole style vents on this house are not a common thing. They look nice and large, however the screens will have to be kept clean. The porthole design also provides harbourage for birds, who will no doubt be tempted to nest at the base of the circle, or on the top protrusion. Even with the gutter system, I suspect the snow melt and rain water will have some tendency to flow down the exterior cladding, unless there is a good drip edge (capillary break). Protrusions in the cladding may catch the water as it falls. I will have to check out the performance on a wet day to see how it’s doing. If water runs down the cladding, it will cause staining, and eventually deterioration of the cladding and mortar.
This is a more traditional mansard roof. The flat roof is above the mansard sides, and vents and HVAC equipment are visible on the roof. Water is running down from the flat roof, and is captured in gutters at the bottom of the mansard sides. The sides project slightly beyond the exterior cladding, and are probably vented to allow some air flow in to the attic space.
This is another mansard style roof house under construction, just down the road from Drake’s place. This is the more common approach where a flat or almost flat top roof where water from the top flat or almost flat roof will drain down the sides of the mansard. This roof has a generous overhang that is good for ventilation and for protecting the exterior cladding from water.
There is good reason to worry about where your drizzle goes. See this relatively new building with a mansard style roof. Fancy architectural features at the front of the house combined with poor management of water flow have led to significant premature brick deterioration.
The decision to create a complicated roof line with a small section not served by a gutter to accommodate some fake foam balusters has backfired. Staining down the finish shows that water likes to flow downhill unless told otherwise. The brick in the area of flow is already significantly damaged from freeze-thaw action, with spalling occurring even a dozen rows down the wall and significant mortar loss at the units above the window opening. The situation is exacerbated because this area of roof is receiving water from the gable roof above. Some costly brick repairs will soon be required.
I have never understood any benefits of the mansard design. I regard it as an unfortunate design that results from height restrictions. On older installations (60s and 70s) there is high risk of leakage and subsequent rot occurring around window openings. The roof tops are more difficult to access because ladders can’t be placed at a suitable angle to traverse the mansard sides and reach the top. Smart design would include an access hatch to the roof, but most houses I inspect do not have a roof hatch. Roof inspection or repair requires professional crews with lifts and cranes or extra long ladders.
It remains to be seen how the Drizzy mansion will perform. The front has a South-West exposure that will be relatively dry, however the rear of the building with the North-East exposure is going to be subject to direct rain impingement , and will be slower to dry out. This is where I would expect to see water staining occurring on the masonry within a few years. Maybe one day someone will call me on my cell phone to check it out!