Roof terrace

Converting an existing flat roof or new flat roof to a terrace can be a great idea, particularly for properties without a garden. It can raise the value of your home and potentially be an inexpensive upgrade (particularly if the roof is already structurally sound for this purpose – more on that below).


Roof terrace above by Simon, architect from Huntingdonshire, East of England. Click here to see more and shortlist Simon for your home project.


Do you need permission to convert a roof to a roof terrace?

In short, yes legally you will need planning permission and building regs to convert a roof to a roof terrace. A roof terrace does NOT fall under permitted development, so you will need to submit a full planning application.


Can I use a flat roof as a terrace without planning permission?

To be safe, a roof terrace will need to have appropriate access, balustrades, and be structurally fit for purpose. To make these necessary alterations you will need to obtain planning permission and building control approval (see below). Moreover, when you come to sell your property in the future you will almost certainly be required to show that the terrace has the appropriate permissions.


Planning considerations for a roof terrace

Bear in mind the following when submitting your application for your roof terrace.


Will you be overlooking your neighbours?

Be aware of sight-lines to your neighbour’s property, and try to reduce the impact by designing in walls or screens.



Will your roof terrace cast shadows onto your neighbour’s property? Consider using materials allowing light to pass through e.g. frosted glass


Local precedence

You will have a much clearer case for approval if there are similar roof terraces that have been approved locally. Try and find examples that have approval locally and mention it in your application.


Building regulations for a roof terrace



You will need to show that the roof is structurally fit for purpose. If not, you will need drawings to show how the existing roof is being reinforced to take the extra load.



Flat roofs require careful consideration, to ensure that water doesn’t build up and leak into the room below. This usually requires a greater depth than an existing flat roof may have.



Having a roof terrace may change the fire escape strategy for your house, particularly the room which provides access to the terrace.



They will need to be at least 1.1m high and have gaps no more than 100mm. Here is a helpful post by LABC on different types of balconies and Building Control issues:


Work with an architect

Often the best way of understanding the planning process and getting the best outcome is by working with an architect. Simply post your project below and we’ll match you up with the best architects for your requirements. And it’s completely free!

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