Roof terrace design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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Why should I convert my roof to a roof terrace?

Imagine a rooftop celebration with your family and friends. Good music playing in the background, laughter, a toast or two, good banter, and more laughter that lasts well past beautiful views of the sunset. Now imagine that when it's all over, all you need to do to get home and tuck in the kids is to go downstairs. That's the beauty of a roof terrace. A space outside your home where you can relax, entertain, start a garden or enjoy a cup of tea at sunrise or sunset. Developed around 1500 CE, a roof terrace hasn't changed much from its original design, which consists of a wooden platform with small spaces between the floorboards. The altana,as it's known in Italy, was originally a place where laundry could be hung out to dry, but here in America, it's being used as a space for social activities. So if you're looking for a home away from home where you can spend quality time with family and quiet time with yourself, and don't have extra yard space, you should consider building a terrace on your roof.

Do I need planning permission to build a roof terrace?

You wouldn't want your rooftop terrace plans to stop before they even take off, so to be on the safe side, contact your local government before starting. Codes, laws, and ordinances vary from location to location, and each region has its own constraints, building regulations and styles of builds. Plus, there could be other reasons that might prevent you from going ahead. So include a trip to the council at the top of your planning list for a smooth ride, and peace of mind.

How do I build a roof terrace?

The possibility of having a private outdoor space becomes a reality with a roof terrace. Here are a few tips on how to build one that will help you plan your space.

Draw it up: Use the help of a professional architect to inspect your building to see if your roof can support the weight of a terrace. Often, this might mean reinforcing pillars to be load-bearing, and building support structures from the ground or basement level up.

Be neighborly: If you have neighbors below you, this construction will impact them, so you’ll need full sign-off before starting. It's also a good idea to let your neighbors on either side of you know what you're planning as the noise and debris might impact them.

Money in, value out: The costs for your terrace project will vary depending on how the space, materials and the amount of work that goes into the supporting structure of your terrace. Get a quotation from several contractors for a ballpark figure before choosing which one to use. 

Go for it: Once all the above factors are taken care of, you can start building your roof terrace and look forward to making memories on it when it's done.

Which materials work best for a roof terrace?

A roof terrace usually works best on a flat roof, which is not entirely flat but has a low pitch. However, if the roof of your house is not flat, structures can be added to the building for the inclusion of a roof terrace. Here are the best materials to use for a roof terrace.

Modified Bitumen: This cap sheet roofing was developed as a replacement technology for built up roofing (BUR), which uses the proven technology of BUR while adding polymer reinforced roof wear layers or cap sheets. These roofs can be installed using a number of techniques which are include the hot applied, torch applied, cold applied and self-adhered method, and lasts from 10-15 years and costs $3.00-$6.00 per square foot.

Built Up Roofing: The BUR is the grandfather of flat roofs. Built up roofs are installed using several layers of a special type of roofing felt that has been asphalt impregnated and embedded in bitumen applied with a hot mop. The roof felt layering is repeated in overlapping layers until the assembly is thick. A wear surface of finely crushed stone granules is usually applied to the top layer of hot tar to protect the built up roof assembly from UV light and weather. It lasts from 15-20 years and costs $5.00-$7.00 per square metre.

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): This is similar to the vinyl used to make siding, fencing, and other building products. It's a popular choice due to its low-maintenance, durability and long-term value. PVC is expected to last 20-30 years with little or no maintenance and costs $4.00 to $7.00 per square foot installed.

EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene): The characteristics of natural rubber are modified to serve the purpose of synthetic rubber, which means that synthetic rubber has improved weather resistance qualities. EPDM rubber roofing average installation cost is $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot, or about $6,000 to $9,000 for a 15 square flat roof and lasts for 10-15 years.

TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin): This is a single-ply roofing membrane that lasts 7-20 years.  TPO roofing membranes provide exceptional resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure, and costs $5.50-6.00 per square foot. 

Silicone Coating: This is the coating placed between the roof sheets.This tiny layer of silicone coating protects the roof from the elements, reflects UV rays back into the atmosphere, and can withstand ponding water. A silicone restoration costs  $2.00 – $5.00 per square foot and lasts up to 20 years.

Make a roof terrace for your home a reality by getting a good dose of inspiration on homify.