Roofs in Bermuda: Water Supply and Hurricane Protection

220px-Bermuda_roofBermuda is a tiny island nation that lies 640 miles east of North Carolina.   When you are in Bermuda you notice its beauty and charm with every house painted a pastel color and roofs a bright white.  The pretty and tidy white roofs serve a practical purpose:  a way to collect rainwater.  There are no rivers or sources of fresh water in Bermuda.  All water must be captured off the terraced roofs and directed into storage takes.  By law, every house in Bermuda must capture at least 80% of the rainwater that falls on it. The white roofs are made of rectangular slabs of local limestone mortared together in a stepped shape over a hip roof frame.  A hip roof is a simple roof which slopes downward at all points and has a uniform angle of pitch.  Mortar is applied to the top and edges of the slabs, filling in the joints. The lower edges of the roof  then gets sculpted into a long concrete trough for a gutter which directs rain water to a pipe and funnels it into a cistern buried alongside the house. Then a thin wash of cement is applied. To keep the rainwater as clean as possible, the final step is to paint the roof with a special non-toxic paint that must be reapplies every two to three years. The roofs serve another purpose as well.  The design provides protection from frequent gale-force winds.  These roofs are strong and almost self-supporting with the ability to withstand strong wind. The Bermudian roof is the best and cheapest way to supply fresh water and protection against the wind to the 60,000-plus residents of this tiny island nation.