Thursday, May 9, 2013

Before and After-ish: Back Patio and Screen Porch

View of our screen porch and the back patio after extensive renovation.
I don't think I properly revealed our back patio and porch area.  I call the after "After-ish" because we will be upgrading some of our patio furniture at some future point but I'm not sure when yet.  I'm learning to "live with what we have" a bit better this year.  I have accepted that it's not economically feasible to change all of our furniture to a style that fits the home. So it kind of "is what it is". 

The back patio and screen porch are what sold me this home.  It is my favorite space in the house.  We have a walkout basement to an incredible 900 square feet of bluestone patio.  Then we have an additional 300 square feet of screen porch.  Both are accessed by sliding glass doors from the house.  And they are connected by an outdoor staircase.  In the summers, I can be found almost every night and weekend on that screen porch.  We have breakfast and coffee out there and even dinner and drinks.  I even work from there on my laptop sometimes.    We have a large lot (1.5 acres) with tons of mature landscape so you can't really see the neighbors.  The only thing you hear when you are out there are birds chirping and the occasional lawn equipment.  It's a very calming, peaceful place to come home to after a stressful day.  It's my little piece of heaven.

My little piece of heaven was in rough shape when we bought the house.  We were actually afraid the screen porch would fall off the house as it failed the home inspection miserably.  ROTTEN was the theme of the screen porch part of the inspection.  Thankfully I had the support of my father and I knew we could save it with his help.  I documented the screen porch renovation here in  Part 1, and Part 2.  I documented the Bluestone Patio leveling project HERE.

Here are some BEFORE pictures of the outdoor space.  I don't really have better pictures from then but hopefully you will get the idea.  You can see the weeds growing up between all of the bluestone pavers and in the planter.  And the pavers were all uneven--huge tripping hazard. 
Yucky weeds, beautiful yard.

And take a look at how bad the decking boards in the screen porch were warping in the below picture.  All rotten from a carpet that they had laid over the floor at some point.  Note to self:  never install carpet over an outdoor wood floor.  It just holds moisture and moisture and wood don't mix.  That old trim was hiding a completely rotten main header beam and rotten posts.  And a pretty good dose of carpenter ant damage.  Can you see those cross-beams?  A bunch of them were rotten too.  Rotten, rotten, rotten, rotten.  Water is insidious. (The gentleman is the previous homeowner.)


Here is what we (me, Dad, Dex) did:
1.  We practically rebuilt the screen porch.  We removed all of the old trim and screens as they were ripped and the trim was rotten.  We removed all bad supports and replaced them.
2.  We built a temporary support wall under the porch and removed the main header as well as the old posts (they were rotten too)
3.  We put in a new main header, new posts, and sistered the rotten cross beams. 
4.  Then we removed the floor and replaced it with a composite porch floor. 
5.  Re-screened the porch
6.  Installed all new cedar trim.
7.  Tore down the stairs and used repainted the iron work.
8.  Built and installed new stairs.
9.  Stained the ceiling and new stairs with dark brown.
10. Stained the entire structure to match the house.
11.  Leveled the bluestone patio. (UGH)
12.  Installed a gutter at the roof of the porch and ran the gutter under the patio when we re-leveled it.  There had never been a gutter on the porch roof and it caused a lot of damage because the stones heaved.

Twelve simple sentences; probably at least 400 people-hours of work.  Although I discussed much of it in my previous posts (linked above), it was an experience that cannot be adequately summed up in a few blog posts.

Here is the "after"

Inside the screen porch.  The screen door in the rear right leads to our stairs.
Hanging chair from Ikea--love it.

Notice the ceiling--it's the same ceiling from the living room extending into the outdoors.  We also have lighting in the ceiling so we can use the porch at night.  The sliders go to our living room.

View of patio dining area from the top of the outdoor stairs.  The grill is hooked into the gas line that extends from the house.  The pole by the grill has a light on it so you can grill at night.  It also has an electrical outlet that comes in handy sometimes.

One of the seating areas of our patio.  Not a big fan of the firepit and I think it's too close to the house so it's mainly there for looks at the moment.  We kept the planter in the background as it's cool (although a beast to move).

View from one end of the patio to the other.

Lower level slider to the area under the screen porch. Notice the built in lighting and planters.  This provides us a nice covered area if it rains and corrals the kids into the basement.

The rebuilt stairs.  Notice the cool retro light under the stairs?  We have those in other places around the exterior of the house.  Love them.  Also, we could really use a little more furniture under the porch.

Another shot of the rebuilt stairs and the extensive planters around the house.  There's another retro light in the landscape if you look closely.

View from yard.  It's been a beautiful spring!