One of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase the amount of curb appeal you give to your house is to build or improve a porch. Porches provide a focal point for anyone viewing your house if you have it on the market to sell, but their advantages don’t stop there. In the UK many homes have a front door that opens directly onto the living room which means that one of the warmest rooms in the house will periodically lose all its heat when someone opens the front door. Even if your front door leads onto a hallway, there are still draughts entering the home as well as the ever-present problem of where to store the piles of outdoor shoes and coats that a typical family will accumulate. They are even more of a storage problem if the weather is wet. The answer is to have a porch that is completely sealed off from the outdoors to create a room that is like a ‘halfway house’ between the outside and the main house. Many homes already have an open porch, that is a small roof over the front door, designed to prevent the rain from running down the wall and blowing indoors. What you really need is to enclose that open porch to provide a useful room for many different purposes. Not only is the enclosed porch an extremely useful addition to your home, but it can also make the front of your house look elegant and sophisticated.
This article will talk about how it is possible to convert an open porch into an enclosed or screened porch, the approximate cost for doing the job and any problems you might experience while doing it.
Table of Contents
Porch Enhancement and improvement
The first thing to look at is to measure your existing open porch and see if the area it covers is actually big enough to be useful. A porch needs to be a minimum of 1.2m wide and up to a maximum of 3m so you can add a small table and chair for sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. If your existing porch roof is smaller than the minimum width then you need to rethink the project or consider extending the roof to give you a bit more room.
The next thing to consider is what you actually want to do with the porch. If it is purely for protecting the front door from wind and rain and providing somewhere for the outdoor shoes to live then 1.2m should be plenty of width. If you want something more then go for the wider version. It should be obvious that if the existing porch roof is 1m wide and sticks out from the house by about 600mm then it will need to be extended. If that is so, then it would be much better to demolish the existing porch and start from scratch. If however, the existing porch is large enough to be of use then we can go ahead and convert what we already have into something really useful.
Let’s have a look at what we have to work with and how we can use it to produce our enclosed porch. Presumably, if you have a porch then there will be posts of some kind supporting the roof. In addition, there will already be a concrete floor on which these are standing. There also might or might not be a dwarf wall either in brick, concrete block or wood rising from the ground up to probably about a maximum of 1m. If so, you then will already have the start of a useful space in which to build the porch.
Factors affecting your porch
There are many front porch ideas you can choose from and you need to choose wisely. Choose a style that is in keeping with the remainder of the house and one that will blend in with its surroundings. Local authorities have regulations that you should compare your proposed porch against and these are as follows.
- Must not have a footprint of greater than 3m2.
- Must not be more than 3m high.
- Must be at least 2m from the public road or any boundary wall.
Although some authorities may vary these slightly depending on the local conditions, any proposed porch not complying with these requirements must go through planning permission. In my experience, it is always worthwhile discussing your project with the planning department, just in case there are any restrictive covenants that may already exist and in case they are more lenient than usual.
Porch Costs & Design Ideas
There are many porch design ideas you can use but whichever one you choose must be in keeping with the rest of the house. It must integrate with the existing design style and must look as if it has always been there.
Before doing anything with your project, sit down and research what is possible so you know what enclosed porch ideas are feasible and which ones aren’t. Then prepare a realistic price. At this stage, it doesn’t have to be exactly right but it must give you an idea of the cost to build a porch. There are a number of factors that will have an effect on the cost of your porch and you must be prepared to compromise if your enclosed front porch ideas just aren’t feasible.
- DIY or contractor. Do you intend doing all or part of the work yourself?
- Although you probably already have a concrete slab as an existing floor, it won’t look very pretty and it will definitely look like an outside floor. Cover the porch flooring with a floor material to make it look extra smart and to keep the warmth in.
- Dwarf Brickwork. A popular style for a porch is to use dwarf brickwork. This is a wall that is built up to about waist height. The upper half of the wall is then glazed to complete the enclosure and to provide warmth and light. Remember that brick only works well if bricks are common in your area. In some parts of the UK, natural stone or rendered concrete block are used in place of brick. Basically, it all depends on the building material used in your house.
- The cheapest type of roof is a flat roof but if you need something to match a Victorian or Edwardian house then you need a pitched roof. Don’t forget that whichever style of roof you choose, you will need guttering and a rainwater downpipe to divert the roof discharge into a gulley or a soakaway.
- If you want a high-quality finish to the inside walls then plastering is an option.
- To finish off the inside properly paint the newly plastered walls. This can either be DIY or by a contractor.
- You are making another room so it will require an external door to keep out the wind and rain and to keep the warmth in.
- You might or might not need lighting fitted. Most front doors already have an external wall lamp installed so this may be all that is required.
Enclosed porch costs will always vary with size and how much you already have in place but as a ballpark figure look at these prices.
|Task||Cost per m2|
|Flooring (tiling)||£30 minimum|
|Guttering||£15 per meter|
If you have everything done at the same time you will find that the cost to add a porch onto your home will be about £1100 to £1500 per square metre. All this might seem to be expensive but stop to consider exactly what you are getting for your money.
- Additional living space.
- Lower heating bills.
- Increased curb appeal when you come to sell your home.
- Added security with an extra front door.
Porch Repair & Porch Replacement Costs
Before you decide to improve your porch by making it into an enclosed room, you will need to inspect all the parts that are remaining to check that there is no visible sign of rot or pest infiltration. In practice, this will mean inspecting the wooden parts of the roof and any supporting posts for signs of wet rot, dry rot, woodworm and fungal growth. If you find any of these, the wood must be treated and repaired, or replaced straight away before you attempt any other work. While you are at it, you should ensure the existing roof does not allow any rain to come through and that the join where the roof meets the house wall is also watertight. It may not matter so much while the porch is open but when it is fully enclosed and decorated, the last thing you need is to have water seeping in.
Planning Permission & Building Control Required
We mentioned earlier in this article about the requirements for a porch as far as Planning Permission is concerned. This section will go into that in a bit more detail. As well as the size constraints mentioned earlier there are often constraints with regard to building out from the existing building line. If your home is semi-detached or a terraced house then the appearance of your home will affect the appearance of the other houses in the row. Specific planning permission may be approved for your front porch if you can show that some of the other householders also wish to develop their porches.
Whether you need Planning Permission or not, you will always need Building Control (Building Regulations). The Building Regulations cover the construction and the extension of all buildings related to the quality of materials, the standard of workmanship and safety of the general public.
Typical types of work that might need compliance with the Building Regulations and which would be relevant to working on the porch include.
- Extending and installing electrical cables, sockets and lights.
- Replacing windows and doors.
- Replacing roof coverings on flat and pitched roofs.
- Adding extra radiators to a heating system.
There may be other work that needs approval so if you aren’t sure, it won’t hurt to check with the local Building Control Office before you start work. Remember that Building Control is very strict and if the work relating to your porch is not done to the correct standard,
- The person doing the work may be fined.
- The house owner may be forced to pay for any work that needs to be redone.
- Without having a Building Control Completion Certificate, you will have problems when you come to sell your home at a future date.
Porch Extension Quotes
We now know what we want to have done and whether there are any constraints imposed by the local authorities. If you’re not doing a DIY project, the next job is to get someone to do the work.
- Find a local building company that has been trading for a few years and has built up a reputation with the locals.
- Ask friends and family if they can recommend someone to do the work.
- Ask the proposed contractor for references. Follow these up, go to see the people who have had a porch built by the contractor.
Ask two or three different companies for a quotation to do the work. A reputable company will probably already have a portfolio of photographs of previous work and will be able to help you with front porch designs. They will also, almost certainly have designs already in hand that will help with your porch roof ideas. Remember that companies such as these are doing work like this all the time and will know what is and isn’t feasible far better than you will. They will also know the planning department better than you too. Be guided by what they say but remember that at the end of the day it is you who is paying the bills so don’t be railroaded into a design that you don’t really want and can’t really afford.
Make sure you know exactly what you want but also be willing to compromise if the cost is too high or if it is impractical to build. Choose a local builder wisely who will also have some ideas that maybe you hadn’t thought of. Most of all choose a design that will be worth the money you are paying, will have a specific use when it is completed and will look like it has always been on the front of the house.