Can we build over a front porch?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ March 12, 2010 ~ 1 Comments » | Respond to this question

We are looking at house which we are considering buying. We like the house & the location but the house is a bit small. There is a long, approximately 30 X 4 feet front porch, we were wondering if we can extend the house over the porch so that we can have more space. Or are there other options? Any ideas on what we can do with that long porch area, in terms of increasing the square footage of the house?

Pooja ~ Louisville, Kentucky

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Pooja, Without seeing the house, I would guess that the foundation of the front porch was designed for carrying just the weight of the porch and its roof, which at 4 feet wide would not be much. You could definitely build over it, but it would require beefing up the foundation of the porch, and changing the porch so that it was built not for just supporting the roof, but a living space above it. If you are going to go to that much trouble and expense, it might be worth it to expand the entire area out to 8-10 feet, if you have the room and aren't encroaching on any setbacks. A room which is 4 feet wide is pretty narrow, unless you are just going to make the rooms behind it a little larger.

The least expensive option would be to enclose the front porch to create a sunroom. The climate in Louisville, Kentucky ought to be similar to here in Virginia, and I see many old homes that have turned their front porches into sunrooms. My parents have something similar with a back porch, and they spend most summer evenings out there. That should not require too much structural work with the existing porch.

If you think you might move forward with the purchase, I suggest you get with a local Louisville contractor or architect, to see what options you have, and potential costs. If you think you might end up building over the porch, I would hold off on making it a sunroom, as most of the changes would need to be torn out to prepare the porch for the additional load bearing.

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