You can’t always build a balcony on the side of your home, especially in urban areas where space is tight. The alternative? If you have a flat roof, you might be able to convert that into an outdoor space instead. We asked several building experts to weigh in with their suggestions. Here’s what they said:

Zac Houghton

Zac Houghton

Zac Houghton, CEO at Loftera.

A Balcony Contractor Can Help You Achieve What You Want

It is possible to convert your flat roof into a balcony if you prefer. You need to hire a balcony contractor and get the right design for the job. You can extend your home space by adding a small balcony to the house. It is not only useful but also an excellent way of making external use of space.

You have to plan well on how you want to place your furniture on the balcony and also decide whether you want to have more than one level for sitting or not. If you don’t like the idea of having chairs on the balcony, then you can add a small table and make it look neat.

So, give some thought about the type of furniture you want there, and then start getting the best quotes from various contractors.

You have to make sure that the person you hire to do the work is qualified and licensed. This is critical when it comes to working on your house, which can affect the value of your property. You also want to make sure that you work with someone who has experience with this type of project.

The most important thing for you to do is ask questions before hiring someone. You want to get a list of references and find out what types of projects they have worked on in the past. If they have experience, they should be able to provide you with pictures of their past projects so you can get an idea of what they might do for you.

After doing all of this research, if you are still unsure about who you want to hire, talk to your local building inspector or contractor. They will be able to tell you whether or not the person has a license and is experienced in rooftop conversions.

First Consult a Licensed Engineer to Perform a Site Visit

It is generally only possible to convert your flat roof into a balcony if the structure is adequate to support the new usage load. To determine if the new usage load is adequate, consult a licensed engineer who will perform a site visit and write a report approving the new usage, with possible modifications.

Sometimes flat roofs can be converted into balconies by “sistering” new joists to existing joists in support of new usage loads, but an experienced engineer needs to look at the loading conditions, and the new joists need to be installed by an experienced and reputable contractor.

Lindy Weston

Lindy Weston

Lindy Weston Ph.D. is the owner of North Texas Home Design and often designs home additions, remodels, and new home plans.
Aaron Barnett

Aaron Barnett

Aaron Barnett, Managing Director at Bangingtoolbox.

The Job Requires an Experienced Engineer, Designer, and Roofer

Most roofs are built to support a bit of weight, although a roof turning into a balcony will need to be checked by an engineer to ensure that it can support the added weight of decking materials and people. Support like beams might need to be added over large spans. And a parapet wall might need to be built around the perimeter of the building to support handrails and to give space to hide a floating floor for either a timber decking or tile finish.

Decking and tiles can be mounted over a flat roof on adjustable plastic pedestals as joist support. They are adjustable to suit the drainage slope of a flat roof while keeping the decking level.

A designer with experience with this type of work is required as it is a high-risk design that can lead to a water leak. An engineer is required to check roof support and redesign any structural elements as needed. It’s important that the carpenter running the job has experience with this type of work as it is more specialized than most building projects.

Make sure the builder subcontracts a qualified roofer that specializes in laying membrane roofing. The correct product needs to be used and installed correctly for waterproofing and durability, depending on your home and design.

If Done Right, Flat Roof Balconies Add Value to Your Home

It is possible to convert your flat roof into a rooftop balcony. It is a very good investment and can return almost 150% of the project costs in resale value. They are especially popular in warmer climates, where outdoor lounging with a view is sure to be appreciated year-round.

You should get a master builder or structural engineer to determine the capacity of your roof. There will be extra weight if you convert your flat roof into a balcony, and some roofs may not support this weight. Or you may need to be specific in your design to attend to max capacity carefully.

Dorothea Hudson

Dorothea Hudson

Dorothea Hudson is a home improvement expert with Clearsurance.com

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