Whether for some solace in the sun, a glorious garden escape in the sky or a cosy little haven that’s just that bit closer to heaven, a roof terrace is what you need to make it a reality.
With everything that rooftop gardens, living spaces and patios on top of your house rather than adjacent to it have to offer, it’s small wonder demand for this intimate home extension have rocketed.
Many are finding that a relaxing escape that’s vertically positioned provides all the benefits of a sprawling garden, minus the fuss. Today’s apartment living also means that many may not have the option of a garden to begin with, making greening that top tier so much more appealing. Table-to-plate cooking is also that much easier when you’re growing your greens on the roof yourself. The possibilities are endless for what would otherwise be an unused space – a rooftop patio, for example, makes for an enviable place to unwind, with an unparalleled view at that.
Best of all, you likely won’t have to hit the roof when presented with renovation costs. What’s more, top-tier patios are proving to be a profitable investment: most UK homeowners see a minimum ten percent increase in value to their homes thanks to this handsome upper addition. Sometimes, the investment return is as high as twenty-five percent.
Anything from £5000 to £7000 could get you a decent terrace on top, but how fancy you go depends on you.
While flat roofs are optimal, sloped roofs are not the end of the world. An external horizontal ‘wall’ can even out the surface. A good architect can make almost anything work.
Make sure you have access to your new heavenly abode. Your staircase can be inside or outside. Assess whether your outside ceiling can handle the extra weight; if not, reinforce your roof.
Clear any required planning permission – your architect will advise you. A chief concern is that you shouldn’t be seen as intruding on neighbours’ privacy. Screening glass or other semi-transparent ‘wall’ materials will help minimise these fears though.
Generally, you do not need a big rooftop space to make your top-deck terrace a reality. Tiny spaces make the cosiest of rooftop terraces – but do be sure there’s enough space to move and comfortably turn around, for example.
Next, settle on a preliminary design: are you going for an upper deck look with wood and evergreen shrubs, a warm concrete look with a firepit in the middle, or lush green escape? Start thinking about which materials you will use, especially lighter substitutes. Lightweight planters are ideal, as is perlite mixed with compost – it retains water well without being as heavy as soil. Will you use wooden furniture, concrete creations or plastic accessories that can easily fold away? And as for rooftop lighting, lights especially designed for the outdoors are the most pragmatic way to go.
Ready, steady, start building! Now that you’ve scoped out your rooftop and dispensed with the preliminaries, it’s time to call in the professional builders.
Consult your architect about any permission required or building restrictions before you begin. A terrace on top of your house is usually considered a major renovation requiring planning, depending on the technical specifications. So, too, is building an additional staircase outside. Your chances of needing permission also increase according to how much you’ll encroach on your neighbour’s privacy, especially in built-up areas.
It is usually a given that this upper patio needs to look similar to the rest of the house and not be an aesthetic nightmare.
Your flat roof needs to be waterproof, able to withstand a load and solid.
PVC coverings will last 15 to 30 years. The membranes are made up of single layers of thermoplastic material. PVC roofs are especially strong, durable and waterproof, as the seams are welded together with hot air. The added advantage is that most PVC membranes, particularly white or lighter coloured ones, reflect light and tent to be energy efficient as a result. PVC membranes are a relatively expensive option to install though. Expect to pay around £90 per square metre.
EPDM rubberised options cost about £80 per square metre. Add on more if you need to replace any boards below. They are not as strong as PVC finishes and absorb more heat.
TPO coverings are fairly durable, lasting 7 to 20 years and similar to EPDM in cost. As with PVC, the seams are hot-air welded to form water-tight bonds. Use experienced contractors to work with this new technology.
Modified bitumen is another option and will safely last 10 to 20 years. Multiple layers are applied and more difficult to install than PVC or EPDM. They work better in colder areas as they tend to absorb heat. You’ll pay about £55 per square metre installed.
If you opt for Built-up Roofing (BUR), you’ll have a solid base that can handle heavy loads, but be sure that the deck below can handle the weight. Your BUR roof will last 15 to 20 years. Costs will vary depending on the materials used, e.g. asphalt and tar, to build up your various layers.
Silicon Spray presents a seamless solution, although it is more expensive. This finish will last you 20 years though. The installation must be meticulously done so you don’t miss any spaces.
You’ll fork out about £70 per square metre.
Lightweight wooden panels, reinforced plastic, reinforced opaque glass and steel panels are just some of the non-weighty materials you could use to provide privacy and keep out the full glare of the midday sun.