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 and wood since 1981

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Although decks , porches , and additions are really in a continuum, and some projects would fit into one or more categories, for the purposes of this, we are defining a porch as a platform leading into a house, with or without steps, that has a roof, could be screened, but without solid walls or windows. Some people call them verandahs.A few pictures of porches are shown on this page.  

 The New Porch Gallery shows several more porches that we have added to houses in the last few years.The Rebuilt Porch Gallery shows porches that we have replaced or rebuilt.   All are thumbnails and can be clicked on to see a bigger photo.

Older porches often need to be rebuilt . A porch with a roof in good condition will stand 100 years or more. If the footings deteriorate causing the porch structure to settle, or the roof is not maintained, allowing water to infiltrate the roof framing, usually the porch must be completely rebuilt. Sometimes a partial rebuild will do, such as when the steps are not under a roof and so have rotted before the rest of the structure. If anything more than basic repairs are required, it usually makes more sense and is less expensive in the long run, to rebuild from the footings up.

Porches built in Ottawa prior to 1940 generally would not meet current building code standards. Usually the footings extend to less than 3 feet below grade. The current requirement is 6 feet below with a spread footing. Older roof rafters are  often 2x4's on 36" centers. Most porch roofs that we build now have a minimum of 2x8's at 24" centers. Attachment details (the method that is used to attach the wood framing to the house structure) are far more elaborate ,and stronger, now than previously.

A complete rebuild requires a building permit, with working drawings that specify all construction details. The new porch will be required to meet current building codes for structure and safety considerations, such as height and details of railing construction. This almost always requires that railings be higher than the original ones were.

Demolition of the existing porch, must be done carefully, ensuring that no damage is done to the house or the workers in the process. Even though the old porch wants to fall down, it can be quite a bit of work to demolish it and remove and dispose of the debris properly.

Usually, it is possible to rebuild, using modern methods, a porch that will look substantially like the existing one. However, it is also a good time to reconsider the overall design if the old porch must be completely removed.

What does it take to add a porch to an existing home?

First, the new porch must be designed. It should be large enough to do the job it is intended for. If you want to spend time sitting on the porch, that means 6 feet of depth , from the house out, minimum. 8 or 10 feet is better. It should be styled to blend with the style of the existing house in size, structure and detailing.

Working drawings showing all relevent details will need to be produced once the overall design is approved. A building permit must be obtained. All porches with roofs require building permits. The drawings and permit for an average porch cost around $1200.00 in 2012.

Footings for a porch are usually either concrete columns with spread footings, or "helical piles" which are steel posts drilled  into the ground mechanically. Sometimes a porch has a full foundation just like a house. Some of our stone based porches have these. The first inspection is done when the excavation is complete and before any concrete has been poured. The porch framing is attached to the house at the floor, ceiling and roof levels.There a several types of attachment and they vary with the structure of the existing house.

Once the structure is framed, and inspected, and roof framing, shingles, and flashing are installed. the floors, railings, soffits, fascia and finish carpentry can be done. Caulking ,cleanup and a final inspection complete the construction process. The construction phase for an average porch takes 2 to 4 weeks. Painting and/or staining of the wood surfaces can be done once the wood has had some time to stabilize.

Most average sized porches end up costing between $12,000 and $25,000.

Summer Porch Ottawa

Before the porch
After the porch

Old porch

New porch

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