Creating a roof terrace in the UK

When it comes to renovations, this one has an undeniable allure. Imagine taking in the city lights, or watching the sunset...from your very own rooftop oasis. If you're thinking about taking things up a level, we bring you some need-to-know advice.

Roof terrace in UK

There are many reasons why a growing number of property-owners are embracing the rooftop terrace trend. Particularly in inner-city areas, where outdoor living space it at a premium, it makes perfect sense to look skyward.
A rooftop space can double as a second living room, a relaxed chill-out zone, an alternative garden space, or the ultimate party spot.
The added wow factor can also increase the resale value of your home. In London, real estate agents estimate it adds between 10%- 25% to a property’s value, particularly in the most coveted neighbourhoods.
As an added bonus, a well-constructed roof-top will help insulate your home. It will help keep your living areas below cooler in summer and warmer in winter; as well as reduce noise. And if you plant shrubs or greenery, you’re also providing an environmental boost to your city.

Do you a need a flat roof to build a rooftop terrace?

While rooftop renovations are increasingly popular, it’s no DIY job. There are several critical things to get right – from structural design and load-bearing considerations, to the durability of your materials, and safety and compliance.
Your Refresh Renovations consultant can guide you through the process, and coordinate all the required trades and planning requirements.
Of course, it’s cheaper and more straightforward to create a rooftop terrace on a flat roof. But if your home doesn’t have one, you don’t have to give up on your dream.
Pitched or mansard roofs can be adjusted by either building up an external wall; or sacrificing some attic or roof cavity to build a roof-top platform. While this will require fairly substantial building work, the added value and useable space can make it worthwhile.
Alternatively, maybe you have other buildings on your property that could fit the bill. Does your garage offer a decent-sized flat platform to build on? Even that sturdy backyard shed might accommodate a small-but-charming rooftop area.

Building a rooftop terrace: the golden rule

If you want many years of enjoyment from your roof-top space, there’s one critical thing to get right.
You must ensure the surface is absolutely watertight – or you’ll risk damage to your home’s structure below. Your Refresh consultant can show you the various membrane waterproofing systems available on the market, and arrange for them to be installed by a skilled professional. The best products are those that are resistant to sun/UV damage, puncture-proof, and can be easily repaired.
When it comes to what’s underfoot, you have a few different options. Certain membrane waterproofing systems are designed to be ‘trafficable’, so they can double as the floor. More commonly, you will overlay the membrane with your choice of (preferably lightweight) materials; such as tiles, hardwood or composite decking. Or, you can create a ‘floating’ deck structure above the membrane. This has the added benefit of concealing drainage and other services; while providing easy access to check and repair the membrane underneath.

Top tips when creating a rooftop terrace

Here are a few other things to think about in the planning stages:


How will you get to your rooftop? You might opt for an internal staircase or ladder, with a pop-up access hatch; or build an external catwalk or stairwell.


Your Refresh Renovations specialist will make sure your project complies with the relevant building regulations. You may also need planning permission, especially if your terrace will overlook another property.

Load-bearing capacity

In order to meet the relevant building regulations, your builder or architect will need to calculate the load-bearing capacity of your roof. This includes the weight of the deck structure itself; the furniture, plants (and people) you intend to put on it; and any additional weight caused by weather (such as wind, rain or snow).


Unless you have built-in walls, you’ll need perimeter railings or balustrading for safety. The surface also needs to be non-slip.


If your roof terrace is going to overlook their property, or block out sunlight, consider how you could use design elements to create privacy and reduce noise.


Your builder may create falls to ensure the water drains away, and you may need a plumber to install drainage pipes. Your Refresh consultant can advise on the best approach.

Choosing a theme for your roof-top space

Here’s the fun part – creating the ambience for your rooftop escape. There are endless options when it comes to theme; from sleek and sophisticated, to cosy and charming.
You can apply the same design principles as you would for any ground-level decking area, with a few provisos. For instance, unless you have overhead cover, you’ll want furniture that’s impervious to the elements, or can be easily packed away. Any lighting and electrical cabling will need to be waterproofed.
When it comes to greenery, it’s best to choose resilient plant varieties, along with lighter-weight containers and soils. If you want to create a full ‘living roof’, your Refresh Renovations consultant can coordinate the specialist sub-trades you’ll need.

If you're interested in reading more about flat roof coverings, check out our article on GRP Roofing

Contact Refresh about your renovation

Want to know more? Get in touch with the renovation experts at Refresh now to find out what they can do for you and your home. Refresh Renovations Specialists offer a free initial one-hour consultation that will help you make the decision whether their team is the one for you. This consultation is no obligation and is a chance to understand what they can do for you.

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