*This article features DeckWright, now known as MOSAIC Outdoor Living.
By Molly Thompson
But these features are luxuries in new construction. The vast majority of folks buying a new home must settle for the standard open deck or patio, and neither is very useful ona rainy spring day or scorching summer afternoon.
But increasingly, builders of midprice homes are giving buyers a more practical option: a covered deck or screened porch. At least 20 new developments in the metro area offer one or both of these sheltered spaces in place of or in addition to an open deck. In the Mountain View subdivision in Canton, where new homes are priced from the mid- to high $200,000s many decks are covered, and an open deck can easily be roofed and screened at the buyer’s request. Real estate agent Toni Turner says that more often than not, buyers are taking up the developers on the offer.
“People like to be able to sit out there without the sun beating down on them:’ she says, particularly now that the risks of sun exposure are common knowledge.
Health concerns may also be contributing to the return of the screened porch. Not only do mosquitoes make us miserable, they might make us sick by transmitting West Nile virus. Whether screened or open, porches are a natural fit for classic American architectural styles like Craftsman and Southern, which continue to gain in popularity.
Architect Rick Goldstein of DeckWright, a custom deck and porch company in Atlanta, sees the growing interest in sheltered outdoor living areas as part of a nostalgic trend. “The romanticized front porch has now come around to the back;” he explains.
Options abound for homeowners who want to create a shaded outdoor space. If you’re buying a home that is under construction, ask the builder to cover the deck or patio and roll the expense into the cost of the house. For a custom look, check out the many books and software programs that offer plans and design ideas for porches. For a truly unique addition, have acustom builder such as DeckWright design a porch ideally suited for your home and family.
Goldstein says a customer can expect to pay around $10,000 to cover a well maintained deck and just
under $20,000 to convert it to a screened porch, including tongue -and- groove decking to keep out insects.
“Then there’s always the options;” he adds. Electrical wiring, trimwork, premium materials, fireplaces and outdoor kitchens send the price up from there.
In the long run, a well appointed porch may pay for itself. According to a 2005 survey by Remodeling magazine, homeowners in the South recoup on average 82.5 percent of the cost of a standard deck when they sell.
Goldstein says, “Porches probably have as good or better payback than a deck does because it’s sort of added square footage. And the longer you stay in [your house] the more it’s going to appreciate. I think eventually you get all of [the cost of the porch] back, and you’ve gotten to enjoy it.”
The most valuable porch is one that is wellintegrated into the house in appearance and function, Goldstein says. The feedback he hears most often from customers is that the porch “has become, without any question, the favorite room in the house.”