Many houses are not built with porches anymore. Often, all you will get is a small slab of concrete by the back door, allowing enough room for one or two people to stand or a grill. Adding a porch is a great way to improve your outdoor space and turn a yard into an extension of your home. Below is information about how to build a porch
Hiring contractors to build a porch can get expensive quickly, though, and it is the sort of project that many homeowners feel that they can do on their own. If you are considering building your own porch please take the time to read through this short guide before you start building to get an idea of what it takes to build a porch.
Adding on or repairing?
Repairing an old porch is quite different from adding a porch where none exists. Many contractors actually prefer building a porch from scratch to repairing an old one. If you are looking at porch repairs, it might be wise to have a professional take a look.
Depending on the level of damage to the old porch, repairing it can actually be more work than building a new one. The demolition work required to remove damaged portions of the porch cannot be fixed. You will also need to inspect the porch thoroughly to be sure that it is still structurally sound. Repairing the damage only to realize that the entire porch needs to be torn down and replaced is no fun.
Repairing a damaged porch often requires more expertise than most non-professionals will have. Sometimes, though, it is a very simple repair. Either way, it is best to have a professional inspect it so that you can be certain of the level of skill required.
Exterior work, explained
Many homeowners have years of experience working on the inside of their home, but exterior work presents different challenges. In the case of a porch, there are three factors that you have to consider that often do not factor into interior work.
The first is the house itself. Your porch will be attached to the house, and you need to understand how best to do that. Surprisingly, it is not much more complicated to build a covered porch than an uncovered porch, largely because it does not affect the way that you attach it to the house. In either case, you will need to find the appropriate places to bolt the porch to the house. This is not unlike mounting a picture or a TV on a wall stud.
The second thing to consider is the weather. Your choice of construction materials and the dates on which you do the work are all influenced by Mother Nature. Construction may be delayed by bad weather, and poor choices in material or the treatments you use on them will drastically shorten the life of your porch. Weather is not the only factor, either. If you live somewhere with high humidity, that will affect the type of wood you should choose.
The third factor is the ground. To build a porch, you are first going to need to prepare the ground for it. That means removing the grass and topsoil, and then leveling and grading it. You want to level it to create a flat surface for the porch, but you might also want a slight grade sloping away from the house so that water does not pool underneath the porch. This requires fill dirt and equipment for leveling and grading.
Estimated timelines and cost
The cost depends on many different factors. If you were to hire professionals to build it, for instance, the labor cost alone would typically be around $20–40 per square foot.
For materials, the foundation typically costs $5–8 per square foot, and the lumber for a wooden deck starts off at about $7.50 per square foot. Brick is usually $6–10 per square foot. 320 square feet is the average porch size in the United States, so to build an average-sized wooden porch on your own, you should expect to pay between $4,000 and $4,960, assuming the minimum lumber price. Paying a contractor would add $6,400 to $12,800 to that cost.
For a simple, uncovered porch, it will take about 3–4 days to build if the construction is not interrupted by bad weather. Screened or covered porches will usually take about a day or two longer.
Living happily ever after with your new construction
Once your porch is complete, it is time to sit back and enjoy it. It will require some maintenance, though. If you used wood, you will need to keep an eye on it and occasionally reapply the stain and weatherproofing to ensure that it lasts longer. In addition, regular inspections will allow you to stay ahead of any major maintenance problems.
If you are planning to grill on your porch, you will want to place protective mats underneath to prevent damage to the wooden deck. The same is true for any furniture you place on it — if the furniture could potentially scratch or damage the wood, you will want to put down protection.
Covered porches require less maintenance, as the roof protects them from the elements. However, the roof itself will require some maintenance. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the roof is not developing major maintenance problems.
Brick porches require even less maintenance, but they do still develop some problems. The mortar between the bricks can wear out, and the bricks can crack from moisture. Clay-heavy soils swell in heavy rains, which can cause bumps or tilting in a brick porch. It is important to keep an eye out for these problems.
If you would like to speak to professional contractors about leveling and grading the ground for your porch, or hire a contractor to build your porch, contact Dirt Connections. Our expert contractors can help whether you just need a delivery of fill dirt for grading or you want to hire them for the work.