Treating the terrace
Defective workmanship may not be visible until the ingress of water corrodes the steel rods inside the concrete roof.
The possible heat gain, finish for cool roof, opportunities for rainwater harvesting, temporary tents for family events, joy of terrace gardening, space for meditation, party zone, dehydrating food items, roof-top pavilion – this list can go on as per the family lifestyle.
It is curious that most of us fail to realise the full potential of the terrace and even if we intend to utilise it in some ways, neglect the other potential issues. More so when we design specifically with eco-friendly intentions, there are dangers of some common sense issues being ignored.
In a majority of the cases, roof slopes for rainwater drainage is planned after constructing the terrace, which ideally needs to be planned earlier.
In the absence of this, we often find outside terrace levels going higher than the threshold of door to terrace, because of the required water-proof layer outside. Of course, we can raise the threshold levels to stop water from getting into the house.
However, slopes have to be best aligned to get the minimum number of roof drain pipes which should converge into the rain filters at ground level at the shortest distance.
These pipes cannot cut across openings in the wall, preferably not in the front elevation, and be conveniently accessible for future inspections, if ever required.
Parapet walls can take metal rings to support future temporary roofs, shamianas and tents for small events. These, if felt needed, have to be well secured into the wall in advance. Also, it is possible to have light fixtures fitted into the wall to enable greater use of terrace at nights, but if the lifestyle does not demand them, it is better to avoid them. Many parapet walls have cracked due to the rusting of cheap quality ring and light fixture supports.
Among the common areas of concern has been the placing of solar heater, metal stairs and such others, where water proofing the point of fixing is very important. Defective workmanship may not be visible until the ingress of water corrodes the steel rods inside the concrete roof.
Today a range of methods are available for water proofing the terrace, but that would need a separate discussion. That aside, it is easy to list half-a-dozen functional possibilities with the terrace, all of which cannot be managed simultaneously.
Selecting the specific activities is the first step towards designing the terrace and finishing it appropriately. Though both rainwater harvesting and terrace vegetable gardening are possibilities towards eco-friendly living, managing both together is not easy.
Likewise, a small house terrace filled with skylights keeps the house bright, but reduces terrace area for activities. Getting a building done is increasingly becoming a matter of choice than merely having options.