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Porch Design Guide

It is natural for owners to want to improve and extend their properties, but the porch needs to be carefully designed. Where a porch is on the front elevation, it can spoil the appearance of the property and street as well as the outlook of neighbouring houses.

Porches are an effective way to highlight the entrance to a house and provide extra lobby space, but their natural size and location mean that upon completion they can automatically become a home’s most prominent external feature.

As a result of impacting so heavily both on the façade of any given property and on the street as a whole, porches are a home improvement that is easy to get wrong. With the best of intentions, a conscientious home owner can easily spoil the appearance of a house by adding items of poor quality which bear no relation to the original design of the property.

The negative visual impression left in these cases can affect the value of the property. Home-owners interested in installing a porch therefore, need to carefully consider the design implications of this substantial addition before proceeding.


Design

The design of a porch should be carefully related to the existing elevation and look as if it is an integral part of the building. Make sure the size of the porch is in proportion with the existing house.

  • The materials used for the porch should depend on the design of the existing house. Make sure external finishes, materials and architectural features match or blend in with those of the existing building. Brickwork, window and door design will be particularly important in this respect. Porches usually come in two formats: fully glazed (using timber or UPVC) or half glazed (using brickwork, timber or UPVC). When making your decision, bear in mind that a porch should normally have more glazing than masonry.
  • Close attention should be paid to the design and material of the porch door, which will serve as the new front door; some porches come with UPVC door designs that detract from the appearance of the house.

Installing a UPVC porch may also have a negative visual impact on the appearance of the property if the window frames on the rest of the house’s façade are of a different material. The same principle applies to the glass itself – for example, if contemplating a porch with Elizabethan lead-effect glass, serious consideration needs to be given to whether that is an appropriate design solution if the rest of the windows in the property are un-patterned.

  • The size of the porch should be appropriate for the building, and shouldn’t project forward of the bay. If it is too large it will dominate the front of the house.
  • When considering what kind of roof will be most appropriate for the porch – flat, lean-to or pitched – refer to the style and age of the house. For example, a pitched roof can look better than a flat roof where the house has large gabled two-storey bay windows.

On flat-fronted houses a porch or canopy can still reflect the character of the house, even without bay windows to provide a basis for its design.

  • Where the house has a single-storey rectangular bay, many householders create a porch by extending from the side wall of the bay to enclose the area. However much care is taken to ensure that the glazing and framework refer to the windows above, the council strongly discourages this solution due to the detrimental effect it has on the appearance of both the property itself and the street, especially if the bay is rounded.

Porch Details

The porch roof should reflect the roof style of the existing house. Where appropriate, a sloping or pitched roof should be used with the angle of pitch reflecting the main house roof.

Depending on the style of the house a visual break between the top of the porch roof and the bottom of the first floor window should be retained. The actual distance between the two will be governed by the depth and angle of the porch and its roof.

All new brickwork should match the existing house using the same bond and mortar wherever possible. Detailing around doors, window openings, soldier courses and eaves, should be reflected or duplicated in the design of the new porch. You should match the shape and style of existing doors and windows to create an overall balance to the design.

It is best to avoid features in your porch design that bear no resemblance to the original house. For example, it would be unsuitable to construct ornate columns on the front of a 1930’s style property.

The door you propose to use should be in proportion to the size of the porch. For example, the use of double doors may be unsuitable in many porch designs. Wherever possible try to re-use the original front door.

If you are infilling a recessed doorway, you should set the infill back from the front of the building, even if this is only a few centimetres.