Oh, the challenges we face.
Many of my customers decide they want a new structure whether it be a deck or porch or sunroom. They go to the back of their house and decide exactly where they want it to be. Then I show up and often feel like the bad guy because I have to present a list of reasons why that won’t work. I don’t want to be a downer but my job as a professional builder is not to jimmy rig something to fit where it doesn’t fit but to tell the client why that will or won’t work. When deciding where to place an outdoor addition, we need to consider existing windows and roof lines so the new structure will work aesthetically and functionally.
Windows as challenges in attaching new roofed structures.
When attaching a new structure, we cannot attach the roof where windows sit. Often the placement of the second story windows makes this a huge challenge especially as it relates to attaching a roof. Depending on the style of roof (Gable, Hip or Shed) we have to accommodate this by either keeping roof line below the window(s) or building the new roof to cover them. Another aspect homeowners should consider is how much light will be obstructed with a new roof.
Consider the sun
Another big consideration is the direction of the back of your home. Will your new structure get lots of sun or very little? How will that sun affect the light that enters the back of your house? You may love the way the light pours through the windows on the back of your house – at the very spot where you want your new sunroom or porch to go. The porch will then enjoy that streaming sunlight but your light inside the home will be affected. But I want you to be happy year after year in your new porch or sunroom. I don’t want you to feel like you made a mistake because of how it changes the amount of light in your favorite room. I don’t want to build it in such a way that the sunlight is so overwhelming on one side of your porch that you only want to use it at certain times of day. I treat you like I would my brother or family member. I want to use my experience to guide you in making the best decision.
This one was REALLY a challenge
Take a look at the picture below showing the back of this home. The family wanted to convert their deck into a screen porch. Looking at the back of the home, it’s pretty much of a no brainer right? The obvious choice would be to put the screen porch where the deck was. And, also obvious was to use a gable roof. We always want to make the roof style fit with the home. In this case, you can see 3 gable roofs on the back of the home so using a gable style would fit right in. In addition, using a gable was perfect because it would extend over the existing half dome window and not cause any problems with other windows.
As it turns out, there was quite an architectural challenge in designing this screen porch. The first challenge was that the gable roofs on either side were a different heights and pitches so we needed to design something to work well with both adjacent gables.
One of the larger challenges that an inexperienced contractor might not think of was water drainage. If you look at the adjacent gable roofs and imagine the screen porch abutting up to them, the water coming off those other roofs is going to flow right down into the screen porch.
Take a look at how this design would work if no accommodation was made for the water flow and appropriate drainage. In order to fix that problem, we engineered cricket roofs to divert running water away from the screened porch.
As noted above, working with architectural elements on the home can be a challenge and is a major factor in the design. This home not only had a large elevated half-round window that they wanted to keep but they also had a vent on the back of the house that we needed to work around.
As you can see in the final design below, we were able to accomplish all of the architectural challenges while still creating a stunning structure that would look like it was built with the original home.
Our work at this Delaware home is in progress so we look forward to sharing pictures once we’ve finished. One thing that isn’t apparent in this picture is matching the materials. Often one of the first questions people ask me is “Can you make it look like it was made to go with our home?” The answer almost all of the time is yes. We hunt down roof shingles, paint colors, siding, gutters and other materials to match your new structure to your home.
The deck of this home used Trex composite decking. We were able to extend the stairs by using the same decking material for a perfect match.
On this particular home, we are working with a stucco exterior. Stucco is a challenge because it is thin mortar and is brittle. When attaching the structure to the home, very special care and attention is paid to working with the stucco on the home’s exterior.
As we mentioned before, adding a roofed structure to your home will affect the light into your home. In many of our screened porches and sunrooms we add Velux skylights. These not only bring more light into your new room but allow for more natural light into the adjoining room in your home.
As you can see, it’s really important to work with an experienced outdoor builder. You might not want to work with a general contractor unless they have extensive experience in building outdoor roof structures. It’s a fair question to ask specifically how many screen porches or how many sunrooms they have built. When you are meeting with the builder, make sure they ask you a lot of these types of questions. Any contractor that takes a quick look at it and says “yup I can do it” is almost certainly not one you should work with. Also make sure that your builder is going to give you a design drawing. One person’s interpretation of specs can be a lot different than another’s. You want to make sure that you and your builder are on the very same page.
We build throughout the greater Columbus area and would love to talk to you about a screen porch or another outdoor addition you are planning for your home. Give us a call at (740) 879 – 3730 or email us at. firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also feel free to take a look at our website. You can see hundreds of great pictures of all sorts of outdoor projects.