When you consider other areas that must be addressed, such as lighting, fascia (roof edge) details, gutters and downspouts, porch flooring — not to mention the front door itself! — and even the doorbell, you can see that a "simple" porch may not be so simple after all.
Many communities now see the value of a neighborhood with porches which tend to make a street seem more friendly and walkable. However, their zoning ordinances do not always support this philosophy. Often the front setback (which defines the area in which you can build) is an average of the depths of the front yards of the houses on your side of the block. Since many neighborhoods were built as subdivisions, most houses are pretty well lined up relative to their distance from the curb. This means that you may not be able to add the porch you are envisioning. The concrete stoop and stairs of the porch can be constructed in the front setback; it is the roof and columns which may not be allowed. Sometimes the roof can cantilever into the setback a ways, which means only the columns are forbidden. In this situation, consider using corbels attached to the front wall that can arch out to hold up the roof. In any case, make sure you check your local zoning before you launch into your new porch design.
A well-designed porch should be the focal point of the front of your house, which means it can compensate for myriad design flaws or missed opportunities on the rest of the house. It can be an affordable way to significantly change the curb appeal and functionality of your home. Just make sure you give it the design attention it deserves.
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com
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