How to Remodel the Front Porch

Get started gathering details you’ll need: the front porch design, the permits, and the renovation process

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One reason you may love your neighborhood is that it is neighborly and friendly. Front porches allow friends and family to stop by and enjoy a cool drink and warm conversation. Front porches, too, are neutral spaces where strangers become friends by the time the conversation is over.

From the classic covered front porch to entertainment porches, Sweeten lays out the basics of doing a front porch remodel to help you explore the full range of possibilities.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Remodeling a front porch: 6 types to choose from

Any front porch must address your needs. In addition, the front porch should be a seamless addition to the house. Keep your front porch stylistically in line with the rest of the home. This assists with permit applications. Also, it helps the front porch blend in better with the home.

Covered open front porch

A covered open front porch is the most popular, classic type of porch. Many homeowners first think about open porches when they imagine a porch design. This porch has a roof or overhang that is attached to the house. Though this porch has no walls, it often has a railing that helps to define the space and to keep users safe.

Pros

  • Traditional
  • Unobtrusive

Cons

  • Does not protect you from insects
  • Partially open to the elements

Screened front porch

A screened front porch is a covered front porch that has a metal or fiberglass insect screen in its open areas. A screen door fills in the open door area. Screened front porches are highly desired in areas that have mosquitoes and other insects. Building a screened front porch is essential to enjoying your porch from spring to fall.

Pros

  • Protection against insects
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Screen may tear
  • Some rain may still enter the porch

Enclosed front porch

With an enclosed front porch, the walls are semi-solid, much like a sunroom. Often, the lower part of the sunroom walls is solid. The porch’s upper section is devoted to window glass or to insect screens.

Pros

  • Extends usage through the seasons
  • Electrical wiring is possible for outlets

Cons

  • Less of an open, airy feeling
  • Can be difficult to keep cool

Full wrap-around front porch

A full wrap-around front porch is any porch that partially wraps across the side of the house. This porch may wrap around two sides (front and side of the house) to form an L-shape. Or the porch may wrap across three sides to form a U-shape.

Pros

  • Integrates well to the overall house design
  • More floor space

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Blocks some house windows’ access to direct light

Entertainment front porch

An entertainment front porch is a variation of any porch. This variation includes accessories such as an outdoor kitchen, bar, hot tub, gas fireplace, or TV. Some of the entertainment features can be placed on open-air additions to the porch.

Pros

  • More space for socializing
  • More activities

Cons

  • May be difficult to recoup investment upon sale
  • Accessories require greater maintenance

Open-air front porch

An open-air front porch is an uncovered off-shoot to any type of covered porch. This adjacent, connected porch allows for other activities. These might be activities that work better in the open-air than in enclosed spaces. These activities might include an open-pit fireplace, recreational space for exercising, or a larger hot tub.

Pros

Cons

  • Increases porch’s cost
  • Greater weathering due to lack of cover

Basic timeline

  1. Choose the type of front porch remodel you’ll do by asking yourself a few questions. Firstly, what activity do you imagine yourself doing on your front porch? Do you think you will be on the porch mostly in the spring, and only infrequently? Then, you may want a covered open front porch. Can you imagine yourself on the front porch all through the summer? In that case, choose a screened or enclosed front porch.
  2. Begin looking for a contractor with a portfolio of front porches similar to the one you intend to remodel. Read client testimonials and online reviews.
  3. Know your budget. How much do you want to spend? As expected, homeowners like to control the cost of the porch remodel. One way to do this is to only spend available funds. But if you expect that the porch will increase curb appeal enough to boost resale value, then costs will be on the higher end.
  4. Begin meeting with contractors. Ask about contractors’ schedules and about expected start times. Most importantly, make sure that the contractor is one who shares your vision and is one you can work with.
  5. Sign a contract with a contractor.
  6. Depending on the contractor’s schedule, work may begin immediately. A company will deliver a roll-off dumpster on your property. Workers will begin demolishing some or all of your porch. For small amounts of debris, a hauling company may come instead.
  7. The crew first dig the holes. Then, concrete is poured for the footers. Posts are attached to the concrete footers. These posts, plus a ledger board on the house, support the porch.
  8. After the concrete has cured, workers install beams and posts.
  9. Flooring is installed. Your front porch flooring might be an exotic wood or a composite wood. Unless this is a fully enclosed front porch, it is usually best to install durable, weather-resistant flooring.
  10. The railing and screen are installed if it is a screened front porch. If it is an open porch, usually only a railing is installed. For more elaborate front porches, semi-solid walls may be added.
  11. Front porch accessories are installed toward the end of the project. Companies that install fireplaces or hot tubs will install these items. Your contractor will manage these companies’ operations.

Permits and restrictions

Most communities require you to obtain a building permit for any substantial modification to your porch. Your contractor can give you advice on whether your front porch remodeling idea will require a permit.

In cities that have historic preservation and historic landmark overlays, you may need to apply for an additional preservation permit. These permit applications usually require a full set of plans, elevations, and photos.

If your house is in a housing association neighborhood, the HOA board must approve your project. HOAs tend to carefully look at how the proposed front porch remodel fits in with other houses’ front porches. Also, rules regarding home alterations should be specified in your HOA documentation. You should have received these documents when you bought the house.

Cost to remodel a front porch

Any front porch remodeling idea that remains basic and uses few materials can start at $10,000—$15,000. This type of front porch is usually not enclosed. For remodels of this type, the railing might be replaced and the porch is painted. Depending on the size of the space, new materials, and the amenities being added, costs can go as high as $50,000 and more.

Ready to renovate your front porch?

As an extension of the interior of the house, the porch is more than a path to the front door. Sweeten matches homeowners with contractors based on your location and project budget, and their expertise and experience with similar projects.

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ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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