Creating A Safe and Usable Rooftop Space
Whether it’s a rooftop balcony space at home or an event space at your workplace, plenty to think about before attempting to create a safe and usable outdoor rooftop space.
For commercial buildings, rooftop spaces have become increasingly popular, enabling developers to create additional attractive areas while maximising the use of space. No longer are rooftops only a space for equipment and utilities like cooling towers and elevator machine rooms. Increasingly they are being converted into recreational and social amenities for apartment and commercial office buildings.
However, whether it’s for a home or commercial addition or renovation, there is a lot to think about when planning a rooftop space. Let’s have a look at some of the major considerations.
Orientation & views
A rooftop terrace can be a great addition to just about any property, providing an extra space for entertaining, relaxing, or simply enjoying the outdoors. When planning a rooftop terrace, orientation and aspect are two important considerations.
Orientation refers to the direction that the terrace faces, while aspect refers to the amount of sun and shade that the terrace receives. Both factors can affect how comfortable the terrace is to use and how much privacy it enjoys. By considering orientation and aspect, you can ensure that your rooftop terrace is an enjoyable and practical space all year round.
While orientation and aspect are important to consider, you also need to think about where the best views are. Ideally, your rooftop space should look out over the best views your building has to offer. However, sometimes it may not be possible to incorporate the best views and the most practical aspect into the design, so compromises must be reached.
It’s also worth considering privacy issues if you have neighbours nearby. This includes how much your terrace overlooks neighbouring properties and how easily neighbours can see into your terrace.
In most cases, adding a rooftop terrace will require applying for a permit with your local council. If you’re working with a builder or architect, they can handle the permit requirements on your behalf. Your permit application will require a range of drawings and documentation which will need to be prepared ahead of time. It’s vital that you have the permits finalised before starting on construction to prevent delays, complications and fines later down the road.
Structural load capacity
Before adding anything to a rooftop, it’s essential that your builder or architect calculates the load-bearing capacity of your roof. Your roof structure must be able to cope with the weight of any additions you plan to add. If it can’t safely handle the weight, this can result in costly reinforcements needing to be added to the structure. Improper load capacity calculations could also lead to the rejection of your permit application, adding time and money to your project.
Safety & accessibility
When designing a rooftop terrace, two of the primary considerations should be safety and accessibility. In terms of safety, the terrace should be equipped with railings and appropriate lighting to minimise the risk of falls. It should also be regularly inspected for defects such as loose tiles or cracked concrete. In terms of accessibility, the terrace should be easily accessible for all users, regardless of their level of mobility. If there are stairs leading up to the terrace, there should also be an elevator or lift to provide an alternate route for those who cannot use the stairs. By taking these measures, you can help to create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone who uses the rooftop terrace.
Serviceability for rooftop equipment is also important. The terrace space should not interfere with accessibility and serviceability requirements of any essential rooftop equipment like air conditioning or ventilation systems. Maintenance and repair workers may still need to access roof ladders or walkways to carry out necessary repair work. However, it’s important that these areas are safely secured and not accessible by non-authorised personnel.
Other factors to consider include design and landscaping, waterproofing, fire safety, security and the durability and longevity of materials.
Before starting on any rooftop addition project, it’s worth seriously considering all these factors and discussing them with a qualified contractor or architect.