Forget any thoughts you may have of 30 years ago when a porch could have meant simply lean-to corrugated plastic sheeting and a simple canopy over.
Today, a full length porch for example looks; for all intents and purposes, pretty much like a very elegant sun room or chic orangery, and a half panel or half brick could just as well be a stylish small conservatory. Indeed I have seen many reasonable sized porches that are equally used as a place to sit and soak up the warmth as well as ripening off the tomatoes!
There is a style to suit every home from modern to traditional.
Best Porch materials for both style and practicality
In terms of the main materials used for porch construction, the most popular is
PVCu, also known as uPVC or PVC and with a good choice of colours inclusive of wood grain finishes; it is relatively easy to find a design style that will complement the style of your home.
This material has gained in popularity so much over the last 20 years because it is incredibly strong and durable, can be made into almost any style, comes in a variety of finishes, and is maintenance free. (Perhaps with the exception of a quick wipe-over once in a while)
No more rotting timbers, no more constant repainting or replacing putty, no fading or yellowing in the sunlight.
Make sure you know what you are buying
Unlike replacement double glazed windows, porches are not normally covered by FENSA approved suppliers so you will need to make sure that you understand what you are buying and what you should expect.
Do not be afraid to ask questions
Are the frames made especially for the job and are not just window frames bolted together. PVCu frames should be at least 55mm thick but try and aim for as high as 80mm+ if you can.
Ask to be shown a cross-section of the wall – it will probably be multi-walled inside (honeycomb) and see for yourself that it is strengthened with galvanised steel or aluminium.
Really look – and not just at the price – remember that if something seems cheap – it probably is!
Ask to see the British Standards marks for the profiles and if they don’t carry any – then I would advise that you probably look elsewhere.
Look for the same kind of quality you would if buying a conservatory. It could pay to see if the profiles carry British Standards marks:
BSEN 12608 (Previously BS 7413) - means that the materials are of high standard, impact resistant, corners have great strength and are colour fast
BS 7412 - must meet tolerance requirements in construction, the standard also covers safety, security and weather-tightness.
Both Porches and conservatories MUST comply with the glazing requirements of Approved Document N for safety glazing to be installed in critical locations.
This can be easily downloaded from the internet but again if the company have no idea what you are asking you may want to talk to an expert instead.
Back to style - what about the Glass?
Under the Approved document N as (discussed earlier) you should have toughened glass to ensure the safety of anyone who might trip and fall against it.
Having laminated glass is another alternative, although quite expensive, as the two panes of glass have a plastic coating between.
However none of this means you have to give up on style – to add that final touch of elegance why not either have some panels or perhaps top lights added in Georgian Bar, Leaded, colour motif glass or textured privacy glass?
The planning rules for porches are applicable to any external door to the house. You need to apply for planning permission when:
- The ground floor area (measured externally) would exceed three square metres.
- Any part would be more than three metres above ground level.
- Any part of the porch would be within two metres of any boundary of the house and highway
Building a porch at ground level, and providing floor area is less than 30 square metres, it is normally exempt. – providing that glazing and any fixed electrical installations comply with the appropriate sections of building regulations.
For a porch to be exempt from building regulations approval:
- The front entrance door between the existing house and the new porch must remain in place.
- If the house has ramped or level access for disabled people, the porch must not adversely affect access.
There and we thought that this was going to be easy! Actually it can be – just make sure that you use a reputable company, ask the questions and if satisfied that they know what they are doing – sit back, relax and look forward to your elegant new porch.