Do you want to enjoy some outdoor sun? Then adding a terrace is a great idea provided you approach the project carefully and make sure you comply with all necessary formalities. We look at details such as how to make the best use of your space, and planning permission.
Where to locate a terrace
Before you start planning your terrace, the first step is to think about space and location. A position alongside an interior wall would be ideal, but some will prefer a site in full sun, while others will prefer shade. Engel & Völkers offer the following suggestion: it’s often preferable to choose a sunny space where you can use plants, parasols or an awning to filter the sunlight, and thus create some shady corners and varied environments. And, of course, to get the best from your terrace you will also require some shrubs or screening to give the area a sense of privacy.
As for the dimensions of your space, use your garden furniture to define an area around which you can circulate. It’s usually necessary to leave two-metres clearance around a table and chairs to allow for comfortable movement. If you plan to use your terrace for open-air dining, you should choose a space which is close to your kitchen, and if you will be setting up sun loungers, allow an area of three metres by one and a half metres for each one, and then multiply by the number of units to find the room you will need.
Some will prefer to build a roof terrace, and this kind of open terrace is an ideal way to make the most of even the smallest amounts of sun. However, in this particular case, it’s always wise to consult your neighbours at the outset. Planning permission will be required in most parts of Belgium, and perhaps a consultation, or even a public inquiry. Any roof terrace must be fully in keeping with its local environment.
Will you need to seek planning permission and use an architect?
The town planning rules include general provisions, and municipal urban planning laws may provide for even stricter regulations. All terrace designs, even those which may not actually require planning approval, must nevertheless respect the city’s current building regulations. It’s always sensible to visit your town hall or local government offices to become properly acquainted with all such provisions.
- no planning permission is required in the Brussels-Capital region (however be careful if it’s a roof terrace)
- in Wallonia, planning approval is only required if your terrace exceeds 15 m² or alters the soil structure
- in Flanders, if the area is more than 50 m², extends more than 30 metres from the house, fails to leave a minimum boundary of at least one metre, if your terrace lies at the front of your garden, or if the soil structure will be altered, then planning approval will be required
Though it’s not mandatory, employing an architect as your partner of choice is the best way to go about building a beautiful terrace in an optimal location. On the other hand, if your plans involve constructing a terrace at any height, you will need to consult an engineer about the stability of the site and about matters of drainage and weatherproofing.