I want a portico, but is it too complicated?
January 1, 2015 10:58 AM   Subscribe

A new roof is at the top of our home-repair list this year, and it's reignited my desire to add a portico or some kind of covering to our front landing (while they'll be up there anyway). But do architectural oddities make it prohibitively expensive and/or complicated?

Pictures here and here of our (c) 1979 split-foyer "raised ranch." I'd like to add a porch/portico/overhang - some kind of covering - over the front door to give visitors some protection from weather and to add some architectural interest (perhaps to make it look less 1979ish). I've been browsing on Houzz and think this renovation is amazing. (I'd love to incorporate some Craftsman elements, but also acknowledge the "if you want a bungalow, don't buy a contemporary" sentiment.)

But is this possible, given the quirks - intersecting roof lines, Dutch gables (i.e. "Pizza Hut roofs"), the bedroom window just to the left of the entry which can't be moved? Do I need an architect or structural engineer to consult, or can a good GC manage? And, the big (perhaps completely subjective) question: would it be worth the trouble and expense, assuming there are other home projects competing for attention which might make a bigger impact on hypothetical future buyers?

Thanks and Happy New Year!
posted by Sweetie Darling to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anything is possible! Given all the obstacles (I'd add impact of the portico on light entering the house given the number of windows near the door), I would go with an architect to get it right. Get the roofline tie-ins and pitch wrong and you're looking at an endless game of Find The Leak. An architect could also give you other high-bang-for-your-buck ideas for future projects.
posted by cecic at 11:27 AM on January 1, 2015

I would not try to have the GC figure this out unless you are able to find one who markets herself/himself as "design-build" and has a solid portfolio of well-designed completed projects. I do think that a design-build person might be cheaper than paying an architect separately, because you're only paying for one person's liability insurance.

As to whether it's worth it. I'm no expert, just a random homeowner who has had a lot of work done on her house. My gut instinct is that while you would be cutting down the cost of the portico project somewhat, you'd also be significantly increasing the difficulty and cost of your roof project. My numbers might be off, but I'm guessing the portico project will add several thousand dollars in cost while only saving a few hundred over building and roofing the portico separately. Where I live, it'd also move you from a very standard -- cheap, fast, and easy -- permit for roof replacement into multiple levels of permit review, starting with planning and design review, which itself would cost a few hundred dollars.

So, in your shoes, I'd have to think about whether I could take this on and the extent to which I needed to tackle the projects simultaneously. Do the roof systems and/or gutters need to be tied together or could this portico be done as a free standing piece that started underneath your existing (or extended?) eaves. If you delayed it, you would still want to order extra roofing material and do the project fairly soon, so that the material and its degree of weathering would match.

It couldn't hurt to find a design-build type specialist and get their advice, especially if you think you'll do the portico project eventually.
posted by slidell at 12:33 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with the suggestion of a good design/build firm. Just tacking an overhang on there is going to create water problems and/or block the view out of that window -- this needs to be thought through a lot more carefully than just your average general contractor.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:50 PM on January 1, 2015

Looking at the pictures more, I tend to think that my earlier idea, doing the project on its own in a year or two, may not work and that things may be more "now or never," unfortunately.
posted by slidell at 11:00 AM on January 2, 2015

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