Front porches were a common feature in American homes up until the early 1900s. In a world before air conditioning, they offered a retreat from both rainy and hot weather by providing protection, shade, and, often, a welcomed cool breeze. They also offered a good vantage point for watching children play up and down the street and for visiting with neighbors as they passed by, possibly even offering them a place to rest as they headed to and from town.
However, as the family car came to prominence, garages started to take up space in the front of a home. With television and air conditioning drawing family members and visitors inside and telephones becoming the main mode of communication, the front porch was considered more of a decorative relic than a must-have for homeowners during the later years of the previous century.
Fast forward to the last decade, and you may have noticed more and more new construction homes—along with those being renovated—have front porches. Newer homeowners appear to have rediscovered the advantages front porches offered previous generations. What seemed old-fashioned is new again as the desire for a sense of community within neighborhoods has grown in importance.
Adding a Front Porch to Your Home
As a do-it-yourself project, adding a front porch can be as little as a few thousand dollars in material costs. Depending on the complexity of your design and the size of your porch, your costs may be higher as excavation and foundation work is required. Add lighting and ceiling fans, for instance, and there will be electrical considerations. A fireplace, which will create a true, multi-seasonal, outdoor living space will also add to the cost. When a wraparound porch is in the plan, it can require changes within your home to create access from rooms throughout your house. This design may also require a substantially larger investment in outdoor furnishings.
The design of the porch will also influence the materials you use, from the roofing to the flooring. To boost your home’s curb appeal, the porch will need to accommodate and enhance your home’s current architectural style. Since it will change the outward appearance and, quite possibly, your home’s footprint on the lot, you may be required to obtain prior approval from your homeowners association—if you have one—and your municipality.
While fully recouping your construction costs upon resale is a possibility, especially in areas where many homes have front porches, receiving up to 84% of your project cost is more likely. However, while front porches are considered a home improvement, they may be better thought of as investments in your quality of life.
Whether you pursue a wraparound design, which extends the use of each room that opens up onto the porch, a farmer’s porch, or just a small portico, the cost of this type of addition is likely to be more fully recouped—and possibly several times over—in the enjoyment you and your family receive from using it to create fond memories of living in your home.