Bedding plants

Building a roof terrace: planning and design


If you want to build a roof terrace, you have to meet certain conditions to get a permit. We clarify and give design tips.

© Dariusz Jarzabek /

Summer is already over, but the roof terrace project requires good planning. Therefore it is worth thinking about the next summer already. We show you what you have to consider when you want to set up a terrace on the roof.

Roof terrace not without planning permission

First, you should know that a roof terrace requires a building permit. In almost all federal states, an architect or a civil engineer has to be consulted. In addition, the local development plan must allow such a project. The distance to the neighboring property also plays an important role here. Therefore, search in advance with the responsible building authority to clarify whether your project has the prospect of approval or not.

Note: A binding approval can only be given when all necessary documents have been checked by the building authorities. This can lead to a rejection even though approval was promised in the preliminary meeting.

Important aspects in building planning

Before you can apply for the building permit, you have to plan the terrace carefully. In addition to the design, you should consider the following aspects in particular:

  • statics
  • fall Protection
  • Weather resistance
  • Bauwerksabdichtung
  • thermal insulation


If you want to build a roof terrace, you must first check whether your roof is suitable for it at all. Because not every roof has the necessary load capacity. Therefore, hire a structural engineer. This will check to what extent the construction of a roof terrace is possible or not.

Tip: In the event that your roof does not have the necessary load-bearing capacity, this can be achieved by installing additional reinforcing struts. Your architect will take this construction measure into account when planning the roof terrace.

Fall Protection

A railing prevents falls - © ruixue / For your own safety and that of your guests, you must install a railing or something similar around the roof terrace. How high this has to be depends on the respective federal state. In most federal states, however, there is a minimum height of 90 centimeters up to a roof height of 12 meters. All roof terraces that are even higher require a fall protection of at least 110 centimeters in height.

Furthermore, you should make sure that any vertical gaps that are present are not wider than 12 centimeters so that no child's head can fit through them. You should also avoid horizontal rungs that could be used for climbing.

Weather resistance

As a rule, a roof terrace is directly exposed to the influences of wind and weather. Please take this fact into account when choosing the building materials. For example, wood needs good and regular treatment to protect it from moisture. And the sun can also be hard on the material in the long run.

With regard to wetness, you also have to consider that no water should collect on the terrace. Because even the best seal can leak in the long run if water is permanently in the same place. To avoid this, the terrace should have a slight slope and one or more drains.

Tip: You can take such a slope into account from the start when planning the construction. Another option is the terrace covering, which is used to create the gradient.


Sealing against water by a specialist - © Dagmara_K / With the construction of a roof terrace you intervene in the roof structure and thus possibly create a weak point against water. It is imperative that the roof is sealed here. It is important to note that the moisture must be removed from the rooms below. For this reason, you should commission a specialist with the sealing.

Thermal insulation

A badly insulated roof terrace means that the rooms below cool down quickly in autumn and winter. This means you have to heat more.

To prevent heating costs from skyrocketing, your roof terrace needs to have your roof terrace properly insulated. A specialist can help you with this and ensure that there are no thermal bridges.

Design of the roof terrace

If your roof terrace project has been approved by the responsible building authority, the implementation of the construction project will begin. Then you can design your new terrace according to your wishes.


Terrace with wooden floor - © 2mmedia / Various materials can be used as flooring for your roof terrace. However, you should definitely pay attention to the different properties of the materials and make your decision dependent on them.

This is how wood looks very nice and does not heat up so much in summer. But it is very maintenance-intensive and difficult to clean. Tiles and concrete, on the other hand, are very easy to care for and easy to clean, but they can heat up in the sun. An alternative is WPC. This is a wood-plastic composite that does not require maintenance, but withstands the weather better than wood.

Tip: If you want a completely natural floor and do not attach importance to a fastening, you can simply bring sand or lawn to your terrace.


To relax, of course, the right furniture should not be missing. Last but not least, whether you get a small, cozy seating area on your roof terrace or a large, inviting lounge area should be dependent on the available space.

You have a choice of materials

  • Wood
  • plastic
  • rattan
  • Polyrattan
  • metal

Your own taste plays a role here. Because wood and plastic can also withstand moisture and UV rays if you pay attention to high quality when purchasing and provide them with the necessary care.

Tip: To avoid getting sunburnt when relaxing, you should take measures to protect yourself from the sun. Read our article "Sun protection for roof terrace - 4 variants presented".

Plants for the roof terrace

Depending on the size of the roof, trees can also be cultivated - © yolfran / Of course, plants should not be missing to get that garden feeling on the roof. However, you must ensure that the plants on the roof terrace are particularly exposed to sun, rain and wind. Therefore, not all plants are suitable for greening the roof terrace.

For example, you can stage trees of life in a particularly decorative way. Shape cuts can be used to create beautiful shapes.

Perennials such as lavender, gypsophila or holy herb are very robust. They tolerate both high temperatures and cold.

Ornamental grasses are also very suitable for the design of your roof terrace. For one thing, most varieties are very frugal and tolerate the sun very well. Secondly, they are very robust and not susceptible to pests.

You can read which ornamental grasses are suitable for the roof terrace in the article Ornamental grasses: varieties and care tips presented.


In order to protect your own privacy, you should provide suitable privacy protection. In retail you will find various options for producing a privacy screen. The palette ranges from simple panels of fabric to fences made from bamboo mats to privacy screens, all of which can also serve as protection against the wind.

Tip: Roof terraces in particular are exposed to severe weather. With stainless steel posts for your wind and privacy protection, you will enjoy it longer than with conventional wooden posts.

You can find more options for effective and stylish privacy protection in the article Privacy Protection for Terraces. The points 1, 3 and 4 mentioned therein are also wonderful for the roof terrace.

Plants as a privacy screen

You can use various plants as a privacy screen. Bamboo, tree of life or ivy are suitable for this.

bamboo offers the advantage that it grows very quickly and also very high. However, you should note that it has sprawling roots and must therefore be planted in a spacious tub.

trees of life can impress as a privacy screen due to their dense growth. But also here it must be ensured that the plants are planted in sufficiently large tubs. The bucket should have a diameter of 40 centimeters per meter of growth height.

Also climbing plants can protect you from prying eyes. Simply have a fence or something similar, for example with ivy, clematis or wine, and make sure that the root system has enough space.