Decks, Pergolas, and Porches

By Bill Kraeling

After a mild winter with temperatures reminiscent of a beautiful spring day, we’re not surprised at ETL Construction that many of the conversations we are having with customers are about outdoor living spaces.

Whether people are thinking about adding or upgrading a deck or building an enclosed porch, many of our customers want to enhance their ability to enjoy the beautiful weather.

“Especially here in Georgia, where we have winters like the one we just went through, during the winter, fall, and spring months, people want to open up their homes and extend their livable space,” says Bill Kraeling of ETL Construction. “The way we usually get engaged is when a homeowner has a deck that was built with the original home, and now that deck needs to be repaired or expanded. A lot of times they want us to replace the entire deck, or they want us to build a porch.”

Bill notes that in recent years there have been numerous cases reported in the news of decks failing and people being injured, a spate of accidents that caused the creation of new nationwide building codes.

“Some people don’t realize that if we touch a deck – even if we’re just making repairs – we have to bring that deck up to current building codes. Most decks were not built to current codes, which require that the deck be free-standing.”

Kraeling says many homeowners who are looking to upgrade a deck often opt to add an enclosed porch, not only because it adds value to the house, but also because it improves the livability of the house.

“Of course, buyers will look at a porch differently than they’ll view a deck. In buyers’ minds, a porch is considered like an additional room to the house, and so increases the overall home value. But for the homeowner, it’s really about having that space available and using that space while they live in the house. Porches become a functional piece of the house. They serve as a transition from inside to outside. Because they are enclosed, it means you don’t have to worry about bugs, and through the construction you can control the flow of air and make a porch less hot in the warmer months.

“You know, people invest a lot in their yards and hardscapes, and they have views they want to enjoy. A porch allows them to do that. They’re outside, but not out in the elements. If it’s windy or blazing sun or rain, they can still use the space and still feel comfortable. A porch is really an extension of the house.”

When it comes to building a porch or a deck, Kraeling says ETL Construction does enough of this type of work that they can offer homeowners a variety of designs and solutions to make the porch or deck a usable space throughout the year.

“We can even build pergolas on a deck without the expense of a porch,” Kraeling says. “Pergolas give people a slatted type cover system, and those slats can be designed to provide shade. People can sit under them, knock down that direct sun, and get more enjoyment out of their deck.”

Kraeling says ETL Construction looks at every aspect of a deck – from the species of wood, the stain or paint, design, and even where the deck sits in relation to how the sun traverses across the sky – to determine the best way to build a deck to allow homeowners to enjoy it even during the hot summer months.
Safety is also another concern ETL considers in designing a deck. If the deck sits high up off the ground, ETL will design it with taller railings so that children are less likely to try to climb on the railing. Stairs are designed to minimize injury if someone accidentally falls.

ETL also will look at whether or not any grading has to be done under the deck to prevent it from holding moisture and turning into a mud pit. Kraeling says everything from the materials placed under the deck to the grading to the skirting placed around the deck can be designed to prevent pets from getting under the deck and bringing dirt or mud into the house.
Whether you’re looking to expand the living space of your house with a porch or want to upgrade a deck, ETL Construction can offer both the experience and expertise to help you turn your project into exactly what you imagined.

Leave a Reply