A roof terrace means you’re sure to come out on top
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
terrace is what you need to make it a reality.
Life at the top has tremendous
appeal – here’s why
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
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.
What to consider before you start
building that top-deck patio
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
It is usually a given that this upper
patio needs to look similar to the rest of the house and not be an
Choosing the right decking for your
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
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
Screening systems, sun protection
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.