Front Porch Additions Are Worth It. Here’s Why.

Almost anyone with Southern blood has a soft spot for front porches. Not only are we known for them in the South, but we know how to make the most of them. The first home my husband and I purchased, at the ripe old age of 23, was in Spokane, WA, where we were stationed. It was a new construction Craftsman ranch with a front porch. I wasted no time putting out some white rocking chairs and potted plants, as was the tradition in my Carolinas upbringing. But the neighbors thought we were nuts! We sat out there waving at people, and while some returned the gesture (likely other Southern transplants), others stared quizzically.

It just goes to show, for folks living in Tidewater Virginia and the rest of the South, we see front porches as a way to connect with people. Not only our neighbors, but our own families. We can watch our teens shooting baskets in the driveway, or our grandchildren toddling on tricycles along the sidewalk. We can congregate on them for long good-byes (another Southern staple) after family holidays.

Front porches are hot right now for both new construction and remodels, as Hampton Roads homeowners seek a stronger sense of community. But even the most introverted homeowner—who might avoid “setting” on the porch during peak hours for passersby—can still appreciate the aesthetic qualities of front porches. People are often surprised what a difference adding a front porch makes on their home. They allow you to add architectural detail to just about any style of house, either complementing or transforming the existing look. Even a small portico can add a great amount of style and function.

Here are some key reasons to add a front porch to your home:

Curb Appeal

There’s just no denying that a front porch is a beautiful thing to behold. Sometimes it’s a matter of replacing a small, dated front porch with a grand new one. In other cases, a flat-fronted house that lacks character becomes a showplace through the dimension and character of a front porch addition. Most often they are THE focal point of the house. I normally preach that the front door is the focal point, and that can still be true depending on the depth and style of your porch, but sometimes the porch becomes your new centerpiece. Often your eye will go first to the porch gable or the columns, so they offer a wonderful opportunity to beautify. In the image above, a small boxy house becomes a work of art with a new porch and some unique woodwork in the gable.

PHOTO CREDIT: clsz, Houzz

Customization

Does your house look like every other house on the block? Or perhaps it looks like the 1960s came there to die. A front porch is your chance to modernize and stand out. The style of the porch can determine the style of the entire house, so you can go traditional, contemporary, craftsman, Victorian… whatever style you’ve always dreamed of. Or, if you want to keep with your current style, you can ask your home contractor to suggest a style that harmonizes with the rest of your house.

Because front porches are customized to your home, you get to choose everything, from size and shape to materials. But don’t focus solely on looks—your final choice should also reflect how your family plans to use the space (entertaining? quiet relaxation?), how much of your lawn you’re willing to sacrifice, and of course, budget. Here is a nice set of design options.

Fixing Awkward Architecture

Because they are so customizable, front porches can solve a wide range of architectural sins. In the photo above, from a recent job by Quality Built Exteriors, a colonial home had a big blank area as its unfortunate focal point between the entry door and the small octagonal window. Quality Built created a portico that not only pulled together the architecture visually, but provided the practical benefits of a covered porch. The job also included new, attractive vinyl porch railings (maintenance free!).

More Living Area

A front porch is a way to gain square footage for a much lower cost than a room addition. Here in Hampton Roads, where the cold months are few, you can enjoy the space during most seasons. A covered porch is even a place to enjoy the outdoors in the rain—my husband loves to sit out and watch the precipitation and breathe in the moist air. And then of course, if you enjoy decorating, it’s a fun opportunity to find furniture and rugs and accessories, and pull them together into a beautiful outdoor living space. (Be sure to read my previous article on decorating your deck… the same ideas apply to a front porch!)

Resale Value

The National Association of Home Builders have identified outdoor living spaces as an “essential design trend,” capping a 10-year increase in homeowner requests for front porch space in new homes. Requests for porches now exceed those for garages in new construction! So even though the key consideration of a front porch addition is your own enjoyment, you can also reap extra rewards at resale time. For most of the country, adding a porch will provide an 84% return on investment, on average, especially in warmer climates like Hampton Roads.

Welcoming Guests

Even a modest-size front porch enhances the sense of entry into your house. A simple portico porch can protect guests while they wait at the front door (as well as yourself while you fumble through your keys). It’s a gathering space for hellos and good-byes, which can be enhanced with a “welcome” sign or mat. I actually have a “y’all come back” sign leading off my rear porch! Your porch also makes a handy spot to initially place luggage for overnight guests when unloading the car, before taking everything inside.

Delivery Protection

An increasing number of homeowners are having a porch cover added specifically for Amazon! As you can see in the photo above—Christmas gifts from Amazon on my own front porch, on a very rainy day this past December—covered porches are a modern necessity! In addition to packages, it will keep your pizza delivery driver dry while she waits for you to sign the receipt.

Energy Efficiency

Your covered porch keeps direct sun away from doors and windows (at least in the areas under the roof!). Likewise, rain is kept at bay. This small energy saving can add up over time. You also will notice that your front door paint fades slower!

Before starting your front porch addition, consider:

Regulations: Because a front porch addition will change the exterior appearance of your home—and likely, your home’s footprint on the lot—you might be required to obtain prior approval from your homeowners association and your municipality. Make sure your contractor has pulled the proper permits! Quality Built Exteriors follows rules by the book, but there are less-scrupulous home improvement companies out there, so buyer beware!

Budget: As a do-it-yourself project, adding a front porch can be as little as a few thousand dollars in material costs. Of course, you’re taking considerable risk, both in regulations (see above) and structural integrity, so I advise hiring out the work unless you personally have a background in construction.

So how much does it cost to have a front porch added to your home? According to Home Advisor, the cost to build a 200-square-foot covered porch ranged from $4,600 to $22,000 in 2019, or $10,500 on average. You can expect to pay $23 to $110 per square foot, which includes flooring, steps, posts, railing, roofing and more. Don’t have that much sitting in the bank? Not to worry, Quality Built Exteriors will finance your front porch addition, and any other home improvement project!

Want an estimate on a front porch addition in Hampton Roads?

Schedule Quality Built to come give you a free quote!

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Melissa James, The Exterior Enthusiast

Melissa James, The Exterior Enthusiast

Melissa James is "The Exterior Enthusiast" for Quality Built Exteriors. She has written about home decorating and improvement since 2005. Learn more. Got a question or comment for Melissa? Reach her at exteriorenthusiast@gmail.com.

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