Question: We live in a terrace house that has a flat-roof single-storey extension at the back. We have been thinking about having a roof garden on the top of this extension. What do we need to do? And is a roof garden an acceptable addition to a property? We wouldn't want to put off future buyers who might think the garden's more trouble than it's worth.
Answer: Roof gardens are becoming popular for a variety of reasons, including their ability to enhance and improve the appearance of urban areas or the cityscape. They can also help to lessen flooding because they absorb rainfall and therefore reduce rainwater run-off. They can provide insulation and, if filled with indigenous plants, they can become important habitats for birds and insects.
You need to establish whether your roof can take the weight of the garden — do remember that people, garden furniture and pots and containers full of soil and plants are heavy. Ask a structural engineer to survey your roof to determine if it is structurally sound and strong enough to support a roof garden. It may be necessary for the roof structure to be strengthened or modified if the engineer finds the support insufficient.
Walls, railings or some other type of barrier will be needed around the perimeter of the roof garden to make it safe, and an access such as a staircase will be necessary.
Another consideration is that the roof terrace may overlook other properties, affecting their privacy, and because of this it may be considered to affect the amenity of the neighbourhood.
You should contact your local planning department to establish whether you will require planning consent and, if appropriate, listed building consent. Building regulation consent is also likely to be necessary. The council planning officers will probably be particularly concerned with how the roof terrace would impact on your neighbours and your locality.
Don't forget to check your title deeds to ensure that there are no restrictive covenants prohibiting such alterations to your property.
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