Building a rooftop terrace: costs, considerations, and design inspo

From costs to council regulations, here’s everything you need to know about building a rooftop terrace.

Building a rooftop terrace is one of your options if you want to have a grand outdoor living space. Not only does it allow you to take advantage of the beautiful views, but it also gives you the space to entertain large crowds.

In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know when building a rooftop deck, including the costs and challenges you’ll usually encounter. We’ll also share some awesome roof garden ideas that will leave you inspired.

Why build a rooftop terrace?

With careful drafting and planning, a rooftop terrace can be used all year round. It’s a place that gets plenty of sun exposure, even during winter. By comparison, some ground-level yards only get direct sunlight for a limited period and others don't get any sun at all.

Having a rooftop deck also gives you a better view of the city or your surroundings. If you add some furnishings to make the space more comfortable, you can easily host some great parties on your rooftop.

rooftop terrace with couch

Who can help you build a rooftop terrace?

Building a rooftop terrace is not cheap, but working with highly skilled professionals ensures you get the best value for your money.

Here are some of the professionals you might need to hire for a rooftop terrace project:

  • Building designers: Experienced building designers will make sure that the rooftop terrace design matches the aesthetic of the home. They will also ensure that the space remains private. Apart from providing the construction drawings, they can also help you obtain planning and building permits.
  • Engineers: These professionals will make sure that there are no structural and waterproofing issues in the plan.
  • Builders: Your team of builders will construct the rooftop terrace using high-quality materials and make sure that it will last for years to come.
wooden roof deck

Think twice if you have these types of roofs…

Whether or not a rooftop deck is suitable for your property depends on your rooftop design. It might not be ideal for small, urban properties with a hip roof facing the streets. Building a rooftop deck may alter the look of the original house and go against the bylaws of the neighbourhood.

Adding a rooftop deck to homes with steep gable roofs can also be a costly challenge. In most cases, you will need to build a home extension and add a rooftop deck above. 

gable roof with extension

Cost of building a rooftop terrace

Building a rooftop terrace is an expensive project because it requires funds for waterproofing, finished flooring, handrail installation, and more. You need to prepare for these and keep additional costs in mind (i.e., for building stairs or access to your rooftop terrace, installing shade structures and other features you may want, buying planter boxes and outdoor dining furniture).

If you want to learn more about rooftop terrace building costs, feel free to request a free quote. 

reading on roof deck

Basic considerations when building a rooftop terrace

Adding a rooftop deck to an existing home has plenty of benefits, such as giving you extra entertaining space. However, you need to be prepared for all the challenges you might encounter, including:

1. Council approval for a rooftop terrace

Every neighbourhood has its own rules and regulations regarding rooftop terraces, so you need to work with a local designer who is familiar with the requirements, most especially when you live in a heritage area.

2. Structural changes

When building a rooftop deck, there’s a huge chance that your building designer will have to move structures that were originally on the roof of the house, like chimneys and parapets. You also need the approval of a structural engineer to build a deck on the roof.

new rooftop terrace design

3. Accessibility and functionality

Most people want a rooftop terrace because they want a huge entertaining space. But walking up the stairs while carrying food and drinks every time they have friends over can be a huge challenge.

If you want a rooftop terrace that’s perfect for entertaining, consider incorporating an outdoor kitchen to reduce the hassle. It requires a bigger budget, but it will be worth it because you will spend more time here and enjoy the space more often.

4. Waterproofing

Waterproofing is non-negotiable and required when building a rooftop terrace.

Note that every project is unique and requires different challenges. The waterproofing needs of a simple terrace with a lounge are different when there’s a pool or a garden.

Also, ensure there’s adequate fall to gutters and the size of the gutters is correct. Opt for oversized gutters because we never know how much rain we’ll deal with. 

5. Flooring

Give plenty of thought to material selections for the flooring, because your rooftop terrace will be brutally exposed to the elements from sun up to sundown.

Timber decking is one of the top choices of homeowners across the country. It gives the rooftop deck a warm and contemporary feel, adding personality to your house and making it stand out in your neighbourhood. What’s more, it increases the value of your home.

wooden deck on roof

6. Shade

It is highly recommended to have a source of shade on your rooftop terrace. You will need it in the summer because the roof can get very hot.

What you want is a shelter that one can’t see from the street level, won’t affect your heritage facade, or won’t be seen by your neighbours.

When you have a well-shaded outdoor space on the rooftop, you are more likely to spend more time there.

shaded roofdeck

7. Landscaping

When you start thinking of rooftop garden ideas, think of the weight of landscaping as well. The weight of soil, plants, and shrubs can make the deck too heavy for the support beams. For that reason, it might be better to use artificial plants or turf.

landscaping on rooftop terrace

8. Lighting

If you’re planning to host parties that extend all the way to the evening, you’ll need to add some outdoor lighting fixtures and electrical outlets. Make sure that the fixtures you choose are waterproof, so that they won’t get damaged by rain.

lighting for rooftop terrace

Inspiring rooftop terrace ideas

Thinking of rooftop deck ideas requires a lot of creativity and research. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you! Check out the cool designs below and let us know if you want to build one in your home:

Terrace garden ideas

1. Turn plants into a privacy screen
This clever terrace garden design uses plant walls to add privacy to the rooftop terrace.

plant walls on rooftop terrace

2. Build a green paradise
Covering your rooftop terrace with artificial turf is a great way to add greenery to your home, even if you don’t have a ground-level lawn.

artificial grass on roof deck

3. Use pots and planters
Don’t be shy to add as many planters as you can as finishing touches to your rooftop terrace. Just be sure to choose plants that are suitable for your local climate.

planters on roof deck

Rooftop terrace shade ideas

1. Install a pergola
Installing a pergola is a simple way to add permanent shade to your rooftop deck.

pergola on rooftop terrace

2. Use umbrellas
Umbrellas are inexpensive and convenient, especially since you can fold them if the sun isn’t too harsh.

umbrellas on rooftop terrace

3. Add cabana beds
Cabana beds will turn your rooftop deck into the perfect place to relax and unwind. They will also make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.

cabana beds on rooftop terrace

Rooftop terrace entertainment space ideas

1. Buy a barbecue
Most people want a rooftop deck so they can host a barbecue in the summer. Before buying a grill and a regulator, be sure they’re certified for use in Australia.

barbecue grill on roof deck

2. Use benches
Benches make it possible to host a party for a large group of people without having to add plenty of furniture.

wooden benches on rooftop terrace

3. Add a hot tub
If you have extra room in your budget, consider adding a hot tub. This will make parties a lot more fun for your and your guests.

hot tub on rooftop terrace

Get started on your rooftop terrace project

Having your own rooftop terrace means you can always have a place to relax and admire the view outside. It’s also an ideal place to have barbecue parties or afternoon tea.

If you’re excited to get started on your rooftop terrace project, Superdraft can help. Sign up for our free platform now so we can help you with the following:

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