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What you can and can not build on your roof terrace in Spain

There is a big difference between what you can do or can not do in you roof terrace if you are living in an individual house or you dwelling forms part of a community of owners. We explain the different procedures to follow in the more complicated situation i.e. your house or flat forms part of a community of owners.

If you want to have a barbecue or have a garden on the terrace, you should know that if you property forms part of a community of owners you will have to ask the community for permission as it that space it is considered communal space and therefor it belongs to everyone.

 

Here is Spain terraces are not only for summer but for most of the year. Having a terrace is a plus as we found out during the this pandemic, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the city where you can forget about cement and pollution. However, you should know that you cannot do everything you want on it, either by regulation, to avoid dangers and discomfort to the rest of the neighbors, or by simple common sense. What can and cannot be done on a penthouse terrace? We'll tell you here.

 

Can I do what I want on my terrace?

Penthouses with a large terrace are among the homes most in demand by apartment buyers (triple the demand for another type of house). It is not surprising, because the terraces are a relief, a piece of nature in the middle of concrete and the noise of a city, and the perfect setting for an evening at almost all times of the year. But can you do anything you want in it?

Obviously not. The terraces, when form part of a block of flats, for a number of reasons. They are common elements (because they are roofed by the house or lower premises) for private use (because the owner of the house or premises from which it is accessed has its use and enjoyment). This private use has as consideration the obligation to keep it in good condition,  Precisely, this double condition of common element and proprietary element prevents the owner from making abusive use of it.

Here are some activities that you can (or not) do on the terrace, with the help of the expert.

 

Can you have a barbecue?

• In principle, nothing opposes the use of a portable barbecue, except if the community prohibits it in its statutes or internal regulations.

• In general, there are no national regulations on this issue, although it may happen that some municipal regulations prohibit them for reasons of fire prevention, although those powered by electricity or gas are usually allowed.

• In any case, it is convenient to avoid causing inconvenience to neighbors, and although some might argue that it is an annoying activity due to the smoke and odors it causes, it is difficult for the courts to consider that it is an annoying or dangerous activity of those mentioned in the Article 7 of the Horizontal Property Law

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Can I have a portable swimming pool?

 

It will depend on the size of the pool. Please understand that a rubber pool of 2m by 1m deep when full of water weighs 2tons i.e. 1.000 Kg per sq, m so we recommend that you don't do it unless you obtain expert advice from an architect. Apart from that it is possible that some community prohibits it in its statutes or in internal regulations.

However, as we have mentioned above building regulations establish that the slab must support 200 Kg / m2. Consequently, before its installation, a technical study of the building's structure must be carried out, to know if the slab would withstand it.

As the terrace is a common element for private use, it will be necessary to request the permission of the community also.

The construction of a proper pool is much more difficult because it entails greater weight, modification of a common element and a municipal building permit.

 

Can I place plants on the terrace?

As for the plants, the following must be taken into account if you want to have a "garden" on the terrace:

• Pots can be placed without any problem (they are removable), but when we talk about pots, we are thinking of normal pots that a person can move them around.

• Large pots that need more than one person to move them are not valid. Why? We could have "the same problem as with swimming pools, that the load on the structure was higher than that calculated in the construction," adds the expert.

• Inbuilt planters should not be built (they are fixed), because they are considered a common element modification, and furthermore, the roots could deteriorate the roof top.

In any case, you have to be very careful, “cleaning the dry leaves, eliminating the pruning remains and sweeping any blade of earth that comes out of the pots, to avoid that the sinks get clogged and a flood occurs on the lower houses ”.

 

Placement of furniture, swings.

• In general, you can have tables, chairs, loungers, umbrellas and clotheslines. That is, you can have furniture and fixtures, but they should to be movable.

• If they need fixings to the walls or the ground, they cannot always be placed, as they would be considered building works that will alter their original configuration, so they must have the favorable unanimous agreement of the entire community, in addition to a Optional report that guarantees the viability of the modification.

 

Lights on the terrace:

Well, yes, but with moderation. 

You can install lights, but like all actions in the community, you have to do it trying not to cause inconvenience to any neighbor or increase the light pollution that we already suffer.

Please understand that here in Spain each city council, has its own municipal regulations, and it would be convenient to check them by asking at the town hall on the limits the luminous flux (the total amount of light that the light source produces in all directions ), because, in addition to causing light pollution, it can cause discomfort to the neighbours.

 

Can my children play on the terrace?

The answer is no. Noise is one of the most widespread annoyances, and should be avoided as much as possible, especially at sensitive times, such as siesta time, etc.

Skating or playing soccer are activities that should not be allowed on the terraces, apart from the noise, due to the deterioration that they can produce in the flooring, which leads to leaks and damage to the lower houses.

 

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Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.

As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.