21 Jun INHOUSE with Mike Robare: FABULOUS FRONT PORCHES
The front porch often indicates the level of quality throughout the home. Don’t miss the opportunity to set the stage for what’s behind your beautiful door.
We’ve all passed by homes with charming front porches that seem to invite us in for lemonade and warm conversation. A fabulous front porch makes a wonderful first impression. As you design your custom home, don’t overlook the opportunity to create a special place for family gatherings, a quiet corner to read and daydream, and a spot where you can hang your favorite plants or holiday decorations.
RAISE IT UP
A front porch shouldn’t give you that sinking feeling. It should be elevated and on display, which requires raising the home’s foundation an extra 12 to 18 inches above what’s minimally required. Low porches become visually lost when landscaping matures and blocks the view of detailed railings or columns. Don’t overdo it; a frequent mistake is raising the foundation too high, making coming and going cumbersome. Both the builders and homeowners sometimes overlook this step or decide against the additional cost, but a little money can make a dramatic difference. A front porch with three or four steps is comfortable for most people and isn’t cumbersome if you’re going up and down several times a day.
Work closely with pouts architectural designer and homebuilder to avoid another common mistake: porch contemns that are too small or too big. Some columns look like toothpicks that will snap any minute, while others overpower the facade. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of 12-to-1, that is, for every vertical 12 inches, add one inch of column width. If the column height is nine feet, the minimum width of the column should be nine inches. These proportions produce pleasing visual balance.
SPEAKING OF BALANCE
Have you ever looked at a house and thought something wasn’t quite right, but one right across the street looks fine? Again, this often has to do with the proportions of columns and beams, or what builders call “beam read” A porch looks out of balance when wide columns meet a thin-looking horizontal beam on the underside of a soffit. The beam is barely visible and it appears that the columns are going to punch through the roof. Your builder should plan properly sized columns supporting proportional beams, which are adequate to support the roof mass above.
The doorbell button is one of the most commonly overlooked features on a front porch. When you and your homebuilder select a doorbell chime, it typically comes with a cheap plastic doorbell worth about 35 cents! Consider a minor upgrade to an attractive, quality doorbell button that costs only about $30. Remember, this is one of the first features pour visitors encounter. One homeowner recently selected a brushed chrome butterfly doorbell for their custom home, and said they get more compliments about that one simple feature than other much more costly items. Don’t settle for what comes with a typical chime kit. Make it special – make it your own.
OVERALL QUALITY COUNTS
After you ring the doorbell at someone’s home, what do you do? Most people look around at the porch flooring, ceiling, and any other features that jump out. If your front porch speaks of quality, guests will assume the rest of your home does too. Outstanding materials and workmanship count here. Your builder should pay particular attention to the entire front porch area – more than anywhere else in the home! No second chances on first impressions.
For most homes, the front porch is less than 150 square feet and that smaller size means you can upgrade floor and ceiling finishes without breaking the bank. Design and build your home for you and your family to enjoy, but also look ahead and consider what happens when you’re ready to sell. While the realtor retrieves the key from the lockbox, prospective homebuyers spend a few minutes on the front porch looking around. lf you’ve upgraded the flooring be as little as $4 per square foot, maybe with hand-cut stone, you’ve made a great first impression for only $600, and you’re on your way to a top-dollar sale.
The entrance to your home should make a statement, so select a beautiful, solid front door and surround it with complementary trim (again, think proportions – don’t put wimpy trim around a heavy ornate door). Your door handle set communicates quality and precision. This may seem like an insignificant item, but I recommend spending a few hundred dollars on a quality brand for a fully-mortised handle set. You’ll feel quality when you press the thumb latch. Give the same attention to details like doorknockers and kick plates.
When designing the front porch, have a good idea about what type and how much furniture you prefer so your builder allows enough depth to make the space both functional and visually pleasing. There’s a variety of porch rockers and swings on the market, but they won’t work if your porch is too shallow.
WIRING FOR SOUND
Speakers on the front porch are a nice touch, whether you want to listen to calming music while enjoying a spring breeze or pipe holiday tunes to welcome party guests.
Don’t forget to have electrical receptacles placed along the soffits. It’s a great convenience for holiday lighting.
If you have a limited budget for the front porch, the two most important things to consider are: raising the front porch and paying close attention to the proportions of the columns and beams. Doing this right will help the overall value of your home.
The biggest mistake you can make on the front porch is building the porch too low to the ground. This is often the first and only impression some people will have of your home – it shouldn’t have a sinking feeling!
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