A flat terrace offers a lot of uses. Have you planned it well?

Flat terraces play a critical role in the architecture of buildings. The possible heat gain, finish for cool roof, opportunities for rainwater harvesting, temporary tents for family events, the joys of terrace gardening, space for meditation, a party zone, drying food items like papads and pickles, a roof-top pavilion – this list of terrace uses can go on. It's curious that most of us don't realise the full potential of the terrace, even if we use it in some ways. 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 are planned after constructing the terrace, although ideally this must be done earlier.

In its absence, 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, should preferably not be in the front elevation, and be conveniently accessible for future inspections, if required. Parapet walls can take metal rings to support future temporary roofs, shamianas and tents for small events. These, if needed, have to be well secured into the wall during house construction stage. Also, it is possible to have light fixtures fitted into the wall to enable greater use at nights. Many parapet walls are 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 others, where water proofing the point of fixing is the key. Defective workmanship may not be visible until the ingress of water corrodes the steel rods inside the concrete roof.

satya prakash varanashi