The porch invokes images of rocking chairs, lazy days and lemonade. It is the quiet resting place for the family and the inviting fringe room for spillover from large parties. Built on the front, it is the perch from which the goings-on of the neighborhood can be surveyed; off the back it can expand a family room while
This spacious, finished porch features high ceilings, lighting and great views of the great outdoors. Photo courtesy of Edwards Construction.
maintaining privacy. If built correctly, it can be a serious enhancement to the home’s curb appeal or overall value. Part of the planning process involves placement of the porch—front, side or back—as well as porch size, type, style and material. Here’s a rundown on the big decisions to make when adding a porch.
Location Some homeowners will begin the porch project with a clear thought on location. For a home in desperate need of some curb appeal, the front porch may be a no-brainer. For others, the porch might be built over an existing deck in the back of the home. But this big investment deserves a little location consideration and can be subject to limitations.
Front or side additions on a home may run into zoning restrictions, which can limit or even prohibit the project. Many new subdivisions have homes built right to the edge of the setback, leaving no room to expand to the front or to the side. In these scenarios, the back porch is the only real option. “I don’t do work on the front of the house because you can’t put much there,” says Ed Miller, founder of Edwards Construction, a deck and porch construction company out of Cincinnati, Ohio. “It doesn’t make a lot of practical sense.” Miller sees greater value in a 14’ x 20’ back porch than a 12’ x 12’ front porch, which would cost about the same in labor to construct. “Homeowners want the maximum use out of the investment. They want to put chairs and couches on their porch,” says Miller. The back or side porch is an ideal addition for homeowners who want the additional space and a more outdoor feel while maintaining a bit of privacy.
Size limitations or not, nothing makes a first impression quite like a front porch. “The first thing your eyes key in on is the front porch,” says Gregory Tatsch, owner of Vintage Woodworks, a deck and porch component manufacturer and distributor based in Quinlan, Tex. “That is the magic of the front porch.” The style and trim work of the front porch can set the tone for the rest of the home, sometimes regardless of the home’s existing style, or lack thereof. “With a front porch you can take a house that has no particular style and give it a Craftsman, Victorian or Country look,” adds Tatsch. A front porch also provides an easy and welcoming gathering spot for visiting neighbors.
Size and Usage Naturally, homeowners will have to comply with zoning regulations when it comes to the size of their porch. Codes and budget might be the greatest limiting factors when it comes to the width and depth of the porch, but the big picture needs to be accounted for, as well. “A tiny porch on a large house will look like an afterthought,” says Tatsch. “Conversely, you don’t want a large porch taking over a small house.” Matching the size of the porch to the size of the house will help integrate the addition and make it look like part of the original construction.