Upsizing Our Downsize

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The back porch/deck on the house was in bad shape. We knew when we first looked at the house that we would have to replace it. It became a matter of when we could do it and what we would replace it with. As the weather warmed up, the decision of what became easier. It was the when that kept getting pushed back.

We moved in the first of April. The previous owners had left a large sun umbrella on the porch.  The stand was bolted down but still, I was not expecting them to leave it. When we asked them if they had intended to leave it, we were told we would need it.

The back of the house faces east. As the month progressed, the morning sun became more intense on the glass patio doors. At that point, I had a ‘curtain’ over the door made from a sheet and safety pins and held up with a shower curtain tension rod. It provided privacy and some relief from the warming sun.

When the back porch became too hot for barefeet, we opened the umbrella. It was a bit difficult to turn the crank to open it, but once it was up, we saw that it perfectly shaded the patio door and a good portion of the porch from the sun. However, as the days progressed and the sun moved over a bit in the sky, mid-afternoon had the porch in direct sun and the umbrella no longer helped as much. We brought out our smaller umbrella that we had used at the previous house to provide privacy from our neighbors while we were on our deck. We weren’t using the porch for sitting and relaxing. We were in and out that door quite a bit as we worked various projects. We wanted shade when we needed to be on it. We also needed shade on the glass doors since they would get so hot, we couldn’t touch them!20160716_104245Here is a picture of the back of the house on the day we removed the original patio door and installed the french doors. You can see the opened umbrella. The smaller one is not open because it was in the way. It was usually positioned to the left of the back door. You can also see patio blocks on both sides and in the front of the porch. More about those later.

We talked about making it into a screen porch. We had done that to our back deck in our Iowa home and we loved it. However, the longer we lived here, we realized we needed a larger porch and more protection from the sun if we wanted to enjoy that space. We decided our best option would be to tear it all out, extend the size to the corner of the house on the north side, and have an enclosed sun porch built. That decision sounds a lot easier when putting it in writing! We also knew we wanted to wait until the kitchen remodel was complete before starting the next big project.

We had worked with a builder who did some deck repairs at our last home and in August we contacted him for an estimate. We wanted to work with someone that understood we would be doing as much of the work as we could and needed him to do what we couldn’t. He was agreeable to that and very flexible on the timing. He had large project in the works and we would be next on the list. The target date for him to start was the end of September.

A couple things had to happen before the porch could be built. The first was move all the patio blocks out of the way. We also needed to do some landscaping on the south side, bringing in fill dirt to level it out a bit. This picture shows the beginnings of the new retaining wall with some fill dirt. In the background you can see some of the patio blocks stacked up. These are the ones that were around the air conditioner. We moved those first because we were getting some water into the garage in that location and needed to determine what was causing it. After that was fixed (a septic pipe issue that was covered under home warranty), we moved the blocks to the opposite side of the yard, stacking them up to be out of the way.20161004_171504

We also heard from our contractor. Due to all the rain we had been having, the work on his current project had been delayed, which in turn delayed ours. Our new target was mid October. We were actually ok with that because all the prep work was not quite done. The old porch had to be torn out and all the blocks moved.

Here is the porch tear out in progress.20161009_173723

You can see we still have plenty of patio blocks to move. Andy had to leave a small portion of the porch so we could still use the door to get in and out. This picture also shows the outside faucet that we had to relocate around the corner because it was going to be under the new sun porch.20161023_150021

On October 24th, our contractor came out to take final measurements and discuss exactly what we were needing again. It had been awhile since he had been there.

That is when we talked about the air conditioner. It was a bit close to the porch and we thought it may cause an issue when the sun porch was built. Yes, we needed to move it over a few feet because it was going to be difficult to walk between the porch and the air conditioner when the walls were built.

We called a company we had worked with in the past, R-Mech and they sent a technician out to do an estimate for moving it. Since I really disliked that air conditioner (it was extremely noisy and had already been serviced once under the home warranty), I asked for an estimate for a new unit. So instead of just moving the existing one, we purchased a new high efficiency one and had it located farther away from the porch, to allow plenty of room for walking on that side of the porch and some landscaping. It was installed on November 1st.

The porch was started on November 8th. Later than we had originally thought, but it all worked out with everything we had to do before it could be started.

Concrete work done and floor started
The new air conditioner
Walls going up!
Retaining wall finished and ready for the new fence

Roof going up. Few different views.20161114_16152420161114_16161120161114_161647

They put in the windows and door and finished on November 18th. We took it from there. It needed insulation in the walls and ceiling, sheet rock and trim around the windows.20161120_153034

Insulation and drywall going up

With the exception of the ceiling, we had it done in time for a family dinner over Thanksgiving weekend. Then we took out the tables and set up to work on the barn door. See the picture of the door in the  Our Bedroom Barn Door  post. We stained it on the new porch.

We cleaned it up again for Christmas dinner.20161224_15533420161224_083804

Here are the patio blocks now. They are the temporary porch and steps. Last month, we put down straw and pampas grass clippings to cover the mud.20170403_181009

We recently painted the outside of the porch, as it was only primed. We still have to install the beadboard on the ceiling. The windows need to be trimmed out and the walls finished. But, it is usable. We have had several meals there when we can’t all fit in the kitchen. Outside projects have taken our time lately, but we will get back to this one later this summer. Excited to show you the finished product!

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