A flat roof is a roof that is completely, or almost level. However, whilst they are described as 'flat' almost all flat roofs are actually laid to a fall to ensure that rainwater can run off to the lower side. Typically they are designed to have a minimum fall of 1:40, which given on-site inaccuracies should result in a minimum fall of at least 1:80 in the finished construction.
The Scottish Technical Handbook - Domestic, describes flat roofs as roofs, '...the slope of which does not exceed 10º from the horizontal'.
While very common in countries with warm climates, flat roofs were only widely adopted in the UK after the Second World War. They were seen as a cheaper alternative to traditional pitched roofs. However, the longevity of some flat roofs has been poor, ranging from 6 years to 35 years depending on the quality of the covering and the structure.