When Stephen Huppaty, owner of OzCorp Fine Builders, moved to Baltimore from Australia in 1997, he was intrigued by an interesting appendage to the miles of brick row houses -- rooftop decks. In the following years, these playpens in the sky would continue popping up in neighborhoods like Fells Point, Federal Hill, Locust Point, Butchers Hill and Canton.
To Huppaty, it made perfect sense. In the tight confines of these neighborhoods, owners wishing to put additions on their row homes could either go back (given sufficient room), or they could build up.
"City backyards are usually fenced in, or they are used as car pads, which can be a little claustrophobic," he says. "But when you are sitting on a rooftop deck, you feel like you are in the complete, open outdoors."
In 2007, when Huppaty started his business, the construction of rooftop decking became one of the many services he and his staff provide to homeowners in the Baltimore metro area.
The company works with all budgets, providing materials appropriate to the job. Pressure-treated ACQ lumber is the least expensive and, he says, the most popular. Other materials used are Trex decking and Ipe deck paneling, which need little or no upkeep. There is a wide choice of design from a simple one-tiered model to two-tiered decks with an addition.
Huppaty sees the trend toward open-air rooftop living continuing throughout the city, but he strongly advises homeowners to get a licensed contractor to do the work, ensuring the deck is built to code, with permits and inspections.
"It is incredible the amount of calls I get to repair people's decks that were not engineered correctly," he says. "It's a big problem.
"But when it's done … to code, it [allows] people to enjoy the outdoors, to socialize, and it adds to the home's resale value."
OzCorp Fine Builders
1216 S. Clinton St., Baltimore