I’ve been mulling the front porch plan for some time now. One component is trying to keep the time we’re without a porch minimal. Another is dealing with the heights. The deck is 5′ off the ground and the bottom of the roof is 14′. The roof part is further complicated by the neighbor’s driveway being a couple of feet away from the porch. So the usual angled braces to support the roof won’t work.
My first thought, to minimize a number of variables is to simply build the deck to the same dimensions. Of course I intend to build the deck better with the use of joist hangers and attaching the ledger board directly to the house. The lack of those two things are mostly responsible for the failures of the current deck.
One of the variables helped by keeping the deck the same involves my first step in the plan. I intend to temporarily support the deck and take out the 6×6 posts currently supporting it. These, like the similar post I replaced when rebuilding the side porch, sit on limestone pads. I am hoping that these pad, also like the side porch, rest on a brick column a bit smaller than they are. If this is true, I’ll do what I did for the side porch–remove the limestone and pour a new concrete cap in two levels. One roughly ground level and another about the size of the 6×6 to keep the wood a few inches above the ground. To that I’ll attach the metal bracket to keep the wood and concrete apart. The key here is to keep the old porch in action while this process takes place and to use the current porch dimensions to accurately locate the footing for the new 6x6s. After that, things get a bit fuzzier.
To support the roof, I’ve decided on 4×4 posts on screw jacks attached with steel brackets to a beam supporting the roof. This will hopefully do the job in the room I have to work with and more easily deal with the significant height of the roof. I’ll need to be wary of their possible interference in working but you have to do what you have to do.
At this point things should go fairly fast. Demo the current porch and build the frame for the new deck. That should be pretty straightforward. Can’t see why that would take more than two days. Then the fuzzy bit.
The stairs on the current porch leave a bit to be desired. Their attachment to the deck is good (and extra rise and run that goes under the deck and attaches to a crosspiece between joists) but they only partially sit on the sidewalk end at the bottom. This has caused one to fail completely at the bottom. So, while I’d LOVE to be able to precut the stringers beforehand; I’m just seeing too many variables to allow that. What if the deck needs adjustment from its current position? I’m using two 1×6 ipe boards rather than a 2×12 treated. I need to either extend the sidewalk or lengthen the run (and while the last builder may have been stupid, I think it more likely that they kept the length that way because it worked out better). So stringers, which I haven’t done before (my two step deck uses a cantilevered system I picked up from “Fine Homebuilding” magazine) are a bit daunting. I’d feel better making them after I have hard numbers.
Then there’s the stair balustrade. n54th is painting away on all these things but I can’t do the final cuts on the stair parts until I have the newel posts in position and can accurately measure the angles and lengths. So there’s more last minute painting to be done, before they can be installed.
I’ve done enough of this to know the best laid plans…etc. So I never consider anything set in stone. Make the best plan and be prepared to scrap it in an instant.