West begins each project by making sure the roof can support the weight of the design components. Then he determines the client's budget and how the client intends to use the space.

For flooring, West prefers modular decking that fits on a fixed frame, which houses the plumbing and electrical infrastructure.

"I like ipe because it lasts 100 years," he said. "But composite and synthetic products give you a wood look for less money."

West likes to mix wood with stone or reconstituted concrete tiles that radiate the heat back to avoid a "heat island effect."

For walls, West prefers masonry or railings over glass, which requires frequent cleaning. A "green screen" of plants on the perimeter deters people from the edge and positions water-draining plants near the edge.

For amenities, West includes everything from showers to full kitchens. He uses energy-efficient LED lighting to up-light, down-light and accent design features.

Outdoor furniture for rooftop terraces should be sturdy, durable and weigh enough to stay put.

"I know one (Chicagoan) whose aluminum furniture blew off the roof and damaged 26 cars," West said.

Fortunately, the supply has recently caught up with the demand for practical and fanciful outdoor furniture, so homeowners have plenty of choices.

Indeed, a rooftop terrace boosts a home's curb appeal. Noting this amenity in a realty listing beckons buyers to consider the possibilities for entertaining or simply enjoying the sweeping views.

"Right smack dab in the middle of town," sang James Taylor in "Up on the Roof," the rooftop is a "paradise that's trouble-proof."