Washington DC Custom Garage & Porch Renovation
Project Overview: Over the years we had done a number of projects for these homeowners including three bathroom remodels along with other smaller projects around the house. There was a deck on the back of their house that they had long considered replacing with some type of addition – their back yard is sizable leaving plenty of room to expand. Additionally, they had a garage located towards the rear of their property that they wanted to convert to a office.
Design and Layout: The homeowners had been working with an outside architect for some time before we got involved. Initially, the plan was to design and build a conditioned addition to create more living space. At some point during the design process, the goal changed – instead of conditioned space, the homeowners wanted a three-seasons porch. The climate in Washington, DC is mild, and outdoor space can be used comfortably long into Fall and early in the Spring months. Working with the architect to develop a design that met their needs, while staying on budget proved difficult. As often happens (when working with an architect), the design submitted was more elaborate (and expensive to build) than the homeowners wanted. (One of the distinct advantages of the design/build model is that project design is not pursued in a vacuum; rather, the end goal of building to budget guides the process. This can save thousands of dollars in re-design, as it is easy to develop plans that look fantastic on paper but are ultimately un-buildable, or cost significantly more than has been budgeted for the project. This is a longer conversation that is explored in greater depth in one of our blog posts.) Because of our close relationship with the clients, they asked that we collaborate with the architect and rework the design to align with their aesthetic, meet their needs functionally, and come in on budget. After many meetings and many hours, we were able to finalize the design, and everyone was happy.
Style and Finishes: The goal was to design the addition to match the classic bungalow style of the existing home. The clients love spending time outdoors, and wanted their new space to be integrated with the existing, so as to entertain conveniently, both inside and out. It was important to maintain an open feel, while keeping mosquitos out. The new addition has large open windows, with built-in screens (that can be easily removed), and screening underneath the decking. The entire interior is trimmed out with bead-board, with custom benches (with flip tops for storage) along sections of the knee wall. Skylights in the roof make the space especially bright, and cedar shakes to match the main house were installed at the exterior.
Construction and Final Product: We ran into challenges pretty quickly. Once we demolished the old deck, it became clear that the existing footings, foundation and joists supporting the back of the house were insufficient to the point of being unsafe. Major structural work was required before we could begin building the new addition. We built a temporary bracing system, and jacked up the back of the house. We removed the existing piers, dug and poured new footers, and rebuilt the supporting masonry wall. We installed new joists with an appropriate fastening system and finally removed the temporary bracing. Once the structural work was complete, we were ready to start building the addition. Everything went smoothly here, but the one thing we underestimated was the length of time it would take to install all the tongue and groove bead board. This task kept two of our trim carpenters occupied for two full weeks!
What the Customer Said: \”Our light-filled screened-in porch is the focal point of our home, we absolutely love it and so do the family and friends who enjoy it with us. Together with Four Brothers, we designed a large, bright, airy, screened-in porch that enabled us to enjoy the outdoors without being hampered by rain, mosquitoes, humidity or heat. Discreetly built-in storage and seating added to both the aesthetics and the practical uses. Four Brothers worked hard to keep the project on time and on budget. When unexpected costs did arise, due to the existing foundations, we worked out a solution that was fair in cost and solid in construction. The porch will probably be the last room standing in the house many decades from now! We have engaged Four Brothers for other home projects and have no hesitation in recommending them. Their professionalism, punctuality, site clean-up and responsiveness, easily surpassed previous companies we have employed.\”