The most dramatic change, to date, in our ongoing project to renovate and restore a village house in the far south of France has been the genius addition of the roof terrace.
We started (see episode 2 of early posts) with the view from the small, high window at the back of the smallest bedroom on the second floor .
Planning permission has changed recently, but the first stage in establishing the likelihood of permission being given was for our estate agent to approach the village Mayor and get and idea whether permission was likely to be granted in an historical village. Fortunately Campagne -sur-Aude is not (yet) under the auspices of “ bâtiments de France” heritage body which would have restricted where and how we could change the building.Although few of the village houses here had terraces built, the Mayor saw no issues in principle.
We were originally advised (by English house owners) that it would be a simple matter of providing detailed drawings of the back elevations “before and after” and filling in a few forms.I suspected this was inaccurate and I was proven right, so we put the matter into our builder’s hands and he navigated the maze of planning and building permissions effectively and professionally as he is also a trained draughtsman.
The old crumbling roof was removed and to support the new structure, steels were cut into the dining room ceiling and the house walls-left and above- On this base concrete block work and metre height walls went around with drainage spouts at the back which will eventually feed in to a gutter and downpipe to the courtyard below. New hardwood double glazed French doors and shutters were installed with traditional black metal fittings
Handy hint- Don’t try this yourself!
Unless you are experienced in constructing exactly this type of project, I believe this is one for the experts. A mistake could compromise the whole property ( a family in Provence found that their roof terrace was pushing the walls of their house out and down and the whole place had to be reconstructed from the ground upward!)
Jean-Marc achieved engineering perfection, although the terrace appears perfectly level and flows virtually seamlessly from the bedroom, it has a subtle slope exactly right for allowing water to drain away as it should.
Handy hint- Consider carefully position and aspect of your proposed terrace!
South facing in full sun might be OK in the UK or other cooler countries, but as summer temperatures here are high and there is no natural shade at roof level, you may find your new outside space unusable in July and August! Our terrace is oriented east-west, so coffee and breakfast and evening drinks are pleasantly sunny- at noon, the parasol goes up or we can move to the shady spot by the French doors.
Because the terrace isn’t actually at the highest point of the roof, we have the low pitch of our neighbour’s wall and roofs offering protection from winds and we have our own little micro-climate up here which will be perfect for the plants that we will add when we move here.
I have ready to install traditional style black metal scrolled screens which will admit all the light but provide privacy on the one aspect where we might be slightly overlooked from a couple of windows in the next street