Nicki & Karen

What to Consider When Building Wrap-around Porches

Nicki & Karen » February 15, 2023

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wrap around porch

A wrap-around porch can substantially improve the appearance and value of practically any home. Along with making your home more aesthetically appealing, a porch also provides you and your family with a great area for relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

The porch you end up adding to your home can be designed in any way you see fit. It can have a more traditional look or a style that’s more distinct and made to match your personality.

Porch space is also at a premium for potential homeowners, which is why this addition is among the best a homeowner can make when they want to increase the home’s value. Once you’ve created this porch, you’ll have much more lounge space. Before you start to design a new wrap-around porch, there are a few things you should consider.


What are Wrap-around Porches?

A wrap-around porch is one that’s designed to be positioned around more than one side of your home. In most cases, the porch is supported with ledger boards that are attached to the home and become an essential component of the structure.

Depending on the design, the wrap-around porch could be accessible by multiple entry doors. It could also feature railings or stairways depending on the nearby terrain as well as the porch height.

Wrap-around porches were regularly built for pre-war homes but became less popular over the years as more modern designs were favored over traditional ones. Wrap-around porches feature a roof that offers protection and shade in the event of bad weather.

This type of porch is ideal for homes that have a considerable amount of space and are situated in areas with pleasant climates. If you enjoy outdoor activities, a wrap-around porch may be the perfect addition for your home.

The Pros and Cons of Wrap-around Porches

There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of adding a wrap-around porch to your home, all of which you should consider before you determine if this addition is right for you.


Pros of Wrap-around Porches

The many benefits of building a wrap-around porch for your home include:

  • Provides homeowners with the ability to build in portions of the yard that aren’t otherwise useful
  • Creates more outdoor spaces for entertaining, lounging, and playing
  • Increases the value of your home
  • Provides homeowners with scenic views around their home
  • Gives at least two access points to the yard

Cons of Wrap-around Porches

There are a few downsides to wrap-around porches that you should keep in mind, which include:

  • Development of this structure requires that certain conditions be met in regards to property lines
  • The larger size means that more maintenance is required
  • The developer must have more knowledge of design and construction than would be necessary for a traditional porch
  • Building a wrap-around porch can be more expensive when compared to a traditional one

Considerations for Building Wrap-around Porches

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of a wrap-around porch and believe that this addition is the right fit for your home, there are multiple factors that should be considered during the design and development stages of this process.

Do Wrap-around Porches Add Value to Your Home?

There are a few ways that a wrap-around porch can add value to a home, the primary of which occurs if you obtain a return on your monetary investment. In most cases, adding a porch to a home leads to a higher home value. The average return on investment with this addition is upwards of 84%.

Keep in mind, however, that your return on investment largely depends on the state of the broader real estate market in the area where you live. If every market condition in your area is favorable to sellers, it’s possible that you would be able to recoup around 100% of the initial investment costs when selling your home.

Your home’s value will also increase because of the added curb appeal that a wrap-around porch provides. When an individual who’s interested in your property drives by, having a beautiful home makes it more likely that it will make a good first impression.


Size and Design

Before you start designing your wrap-around porch, determine if you have enough real estate on your property to fit the new porch. Identify how much porch space you want, what shape you would like the porch to be, and how many sides of your home the porch will span.

Most wrap-around porches are based on the traditional L-shape, which extends to the front and side of your home. A complete U-shape will encompass both sides of the home. Although less common, you might also want to consider a rounded design where the porch wraps around your entire home.

Consider if your home’s design would work well with a wrap-around porch. If your home has two or more doors that are at the same height, this porch shouldn’t be too challenging to create. In the event that your home has a less traditional shape, the porch will need to encompass any jutting walls and other aspects of the design that might pose a problem.

While it’s possible for a wrap-around porch to be constructed in this manner, the costs for doing so can be high. If your home was built in the Cape Cod or Colonial architectural styles, adding this type of porch should be simple. Both of these architectural styles consist of flat planes on each side.

design plans

Terrain and Slope

You can also use a wrap-around porch to cover up areas of your yard that have been difficult to find a use for. Any slightly sloping spots or patchy areas on your lawn could be covered up with this type of porch. Keep in mind, however, that hilly terrain and steep slopes create issues with the installation of a wrap-around porch.

In the event that the yard slopes away on one side of the home, the porch might need much lengthier posts on that side in order to reach the footing. The footing might also need to be specially designed with a deeper or larger size. To mitigate this issue, you could have the wrap-around porch built in tiers, which results in the height of your porch changing according to the slopes on the side of your home.

Make sure that you also take railings into account. If a portion of the porch has been built to a height of 30 inches or less, you don’t need to include a railing. On the other hand, a railing will be required if the sloping terrain extends past the 30-inch mark.


Codes, Permitting, Property Lines, and Setbacks

Whenever a homeowner wants to build a porch, they must first apply for a permit from a local building department. It shouldn’t be too difficult for your application to be approved. In most cases, a basic drawing will be enough to let the local building department know what your project will involve. However, drawings for wrap-around porch may be more extensive.

If you live in a neighborhood where the house next to yours is only a small distance away, you should determine if the project will adversely impact setbacks and property lines. A setback is a specific distance away from the property line that the structure must remain at. The exact setback can differ with each county or jurisdiction. You can expect setbacks to range from 5-20 feet. In the event that your porch will be too close to a property line, a variance will be needed, which can be challenging to obtain.


Entry Doors

Certain homes come with multiple entryways along the front and sides of the home. Regardless of where these doors lead, you should take them into account when you’re planning the design for a wrap-around porch. It’s often more aesthetically appealing to have every door associated with the same porch as opposed to individual ones.


Placement and Sunlight

The exact placement of your wrap-around porch determines how much sunlight you’ll get. The general rules for how much sunlight will reach a home include:

  • Porches on the north side of a home won’t obtain direct sunlight
  • Porches on the west side of a home will obtain afternoon and evening sunlight
  • Porches on the east side of a home will obtain morning sunlight
  • Porches on the south side of a home will obtain all-day sunlight

If your goal when building a wrap-around porch is to get as much sunlight as possible, you should consider building the porch along the west and south sides of the home. If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy your porch without worrying about getting too much sun, the east side of your home may be the best.

porch placement and sunlight

DIY or Hiring Out

The last and likely most important consideration involves your decision to construct the porch yourself or hire a contractor to do so. Wrap-around porches take a considerable amount of work. If you’re working with concrete or natural stone, the materials will be heavy. It’s also difficult to know how to frame a porch without experience, which is why you should consider hiring a professional to do the job.

diy porch

Adding a wrap-around porch to your home is a great way to improve your home’s appearance, increase its value, and give yourself a comfortable place where you can enjoy the fresh air. With these considerations in mind, you should be ready to add a porch to your home.

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