Top things to consider when creating roof terrace access

There are plenty of ways to enjoy an outdoor space, from relaxing, eating and entertaining through to gardening, working, playing and exercising. But many British homeowners are at a disadvantage because they simply don’t have a garden, or even a balcony, where they can get out and enjoy the great outdoors at home.

One way for these homeowners to maximise the amount of space they have available is to add a roof terrace using access rooflights. This can add some coveted outdoor space to a home, while also dramatically increasing the overall amount of living and entertaining space.

Top considerations for roof terraces

Installing a roof terrace isn’t as simple as putting a few potted plants up on top of a home and calling it finished – there’s a lot to think about to ensure the space is safe, legal, comfortable and fit for purpose.

With so much to consider, it’s important to get experts involved early in the planning process. They will be able to help ensure the finished project meets your requirements, as well as any statutory regulations.

Planning permission

This is one of the first things you’ll need to look into since, without planning permission, the project can’t move forward. Your local authority may also have specific concerns that must be resolved for the roof terrace to be approved.

Whether you need planning permission, and how hard it is to get, will depend on the unique characteristics of the property. Privacy is one of the most common reasons for permission to be denied, and if there’s a chance that your roof terrace will look out over a neighbour’s property, then you might need to find a way to obstruct those views. For example, frosted glass balustrades or privacy screens may be required.

Access

You could have the roof terrace of your dreams, but if it’s difficult to access, then you might not use it as much as you’d like.

Safety and practicality are two important aspects of planning roof terrace access. Rooflights are a popular solution since they provide a stylish appearance while ensuring the required headspace clearances are achieved above staircases. They can also be used to flood interior spaces with natural light and with options ranging from hinged and sliding rooflights to box rooflights, there’s sure to be a design that suits the needs of your project.

Building regulations

A number of building regulations need to be considered when planning roof terraces. These help to ensure the completed project meets minimum safety and structural requirements. The following parts of the building regulations apply to England and Wales, but similar guidelines can be found for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

● Part A – This part of the building regulations deals with structural requirements. It requires that buildings be constructed so that combined dead, imposed and wind loads are sustained and transmitted to the ground safely and without causing deformation of any part of the building. When creating a roof terrace, the extra weight of the landscaping, furnishings and people must be considered.

Part K – This part of the Building Regulations defines what requirements must be met in order to prevent injuries due to falls, collisions and impacts. It deals with the safety of a variety of building components, such as headspace clearance and landings on staircases and guardrails around the perimeter of the roof.

Part Q This part of the Building Regulations covers the standards for doors and windows to resist physical attack by a burglar. It also applies to some rooflights designed for flat roof applications, particularly those installed on the top of single-storey extensions.

Getting the design right

A successful roof terrace design will combine safety and functionality with visual elements and unique features that define the space for you and your family. In the early stages of the planning process, the design team should work with you to determine what you want from the space and how you want to use it.

Just some other things to consider include:
● Will the space be used by children?
● Will pets use the space?
● How much time will you spend on the roof terrace?
● How can you maximise the best views?
● Will you need walk-on roof lights for lighting up the space below?
● What’s the microclimate like?

You can find out more about designing roof terraces by downloading your free guide here.