Flat roofs and balconies

Also see:

7.1.13Guarding to balconies

Balconies, and flat roofs to which persons have regular access other than for maintenance, shall be adequately guarded to minimise the risk of falling. Issues to be taken into account include:

  1. guarding
  2. stability of guarding
  3. strength and movement of masonry balcony walls
  4. durability and fixing of balustrading and guard rails
  5. access for maintenance.


Guarding should:

  • not be easily climbed
  • be to an adequate height
  • be toughened glass, laminated glass or glass blocks where glazed balustrading is used
  • not be fixed through the waterproofing unless suitable precautions are taken.

Stability of guarding

Guarding, including parapet walls, and balustrading used as guarding, should be designed in accordance with BS EN 1991-1-1 to resist horizontal loading and as required by the building regulations. Particular care is needed when the design incorporates balustrading fixed to parapet walls to ensure stability and prevent overturning. End fixings or returns may be needed to ensure stability.

In balcony walls (especially long balconies) the structural stability should be checked, as the DPC at the base of the wall can create a slip plane that can seriously limit the ability of the wall to resist horizontal forces. In such cases, it may be necessary to incorporate a ring beam or other support to ensure stability.

Strength and movement of masonry balcony walls

Masonry balcony walls should be built in accordance with Chapter 6.1 ‘External masonry walls’. In particular:

  • walls should incorporate strengthening as required by the design
  • movement joints should be provided in accordance with the design
  • copings should be firmly fixed.

Durability and fixing of balustrading and guard rails

Balustrading and guard rails should be of adequate durability and fixed securely. Also see Clause 7.1.4(a).

Access for maintenance

Provision should be made for safe future access to flat roofs for the purposes of maintenance.