How to turn your house rooftop into usable space

Wednesday March 18 2020

Are you looking for an extra space to

Are you looking for an extra space to accommodate your business or family activities? Your rooftop could be the answer you are looking for. Photo by Alex Ashaba 


Acool breeze makes the white curtain rustle. A number of patrons sit quietly looking at the horizon, lulled into a contemplative silence by the beautiful views and cool fresh air.

This is a location of a popular massage parlour located on a rooftop. With space becoming more precious, turning an idle rooftop into a usable space makes sense.

However, not all rooftops are able to accommodate such activity. Some of the basics qualifications according to construction engineer Junior Kagada, are the roof should be flat and should have been so from the building plan.

He says the slab of rooftop should be finished in a way that is inclined to allow water flow into the gutter and it should have palpate wall of 1.5 metres to two metres and finishing should be by either tiles or terrazzo. The palpate wall protects people from falling.

A rooftop if well maintained and secure can be turned into usable space either into urban gardens, entertaining space or a home library where the silence it offers comes in handy.

Everest Nduhura, a construction engineer stressed the need for ensuring that the building foundation is firm enough to hold the rooftop. Nduhura points out that rooftop slabs are already heavy and the additional weight from people can be too much resulting into a breakdown.


He cautions those interested in establishing bars, restaurant at the rooftop to consider the capacity of the activities that will take place there and use materials such iron bars that are strong enough to accommodate the weight.

If you want to try gardening as a relaxing hobby but you do not have enough space in your backyard, then your roof may be the best answer to your problem.

Maureen Nyakato, 30, a vegetable farmer in Kahungabunyi Fort Portal Town is reaping big after turning her rooftop into usable space. She considers her vegetable garden a success because she is able to earn Shs3m a month from selling potted plants and seedlings.

Starting rooftop garden
Nyakato says a rooftop garden requires careful planning and proper execution. A number of things have to be considered such as:

Gardens on rooftop garden require enough water to irrigate crops because the rooftop is cemented. The best way to water potted plants is by irrigating the crops directly without flooding the surface. The drip irrigation requires pipes where water reaches to each potted planted.

The rooftop gardens crops are usually potted plants in bags with soil. The developer will require soil which is fertile in potted bags. Also the rooftop surface should be well cemented not to allow the leakage of water into the house and it should have pipes that take water away when it rains to avoid rooftop flooding.

Jeremiah Matte, an architectural designer proposes using bitumen and tar on the floor of the rooftop to prevent water leakage.

Rooftop gardens require regular supervision from the owner. Well-made stairs should be available for easy accessibility.

Online decor magazine, Decoist offers basic guidelines for decorating a rooftop for habitation.
It notes that whether the rooftop of your building is up four stories or forty stories, it is going to get hot.

All of that direct sunlight makes for some pretty steamy conditions (and a great place for a few solar panels.) However, by adding a covered awning, a large umbrella or canopy stand you can enjoy the outside and beat the heat.

A rooftop is nothing more than a combination of steel, brick and concrete, so you will need something to soften the edge.

Add a few outdoor rugs, a few washable canvas cushions and some sort lighting in the form of paper lanterns or candles.

If you Are really yearning for some earthy touches, a rooftop is a great place for a green patch – especially for plants the need a great deal of direct sunlight to thrive. Grow your own fresh veggies, and add a few hanging flower baskets or potted shrubs for extra greenery.

Besides a great visual feast for the eyes, make your rooftop sanctuary a place that just invites you and your guests for lots of fun. From cards to dinner to sharing a few beverages between adults, all should be entertaining and exciting.

Rooftop management plan
Regardless of who or why a person goes up on a rooftop for their activities, they need to be accounted for and controlled. Taking control of how the work on a rooftop is performed is a risk reduction practice.

A rooftop management plan establishes a process that controls rooftop activities by accounting for the following:

How access will be made—ladder, aerial lift, stairwell and ramps for people to access rooftop.
The nature of the work to be performed, timeline and what equipment will be used. Equipment such as furniture, sound system have additional weight to the building need to be considered.

What fall protection systems will be used? These systems are meant to either restrain the workers from getting to close to an edge/opening or stop them from falling to the ground.

Required training in fall protection systems, hazard recognition and granting access to only those that have been authorised.