The outside is in

As homes take on a smaller interior footprint, front porches are seeing a renaissance

By Erik J. Martin
CTW Features

A curb appeal-boosting outdoor amenity that fell out of favor for years in new single-family home construction appears to be on the rebound. It’s the front porch, and it’s in greater demand today than it has been in years.

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed in June of this year that nearly twothirds of new detached homes built in 2013 included porches, a dramatic rise since 1992, when only 42 percent of new construction single-family residences had them.

The reasons for the porch resurgence are multifold, says Lisa Frushone, broker with Lisa James Otto Properties in New Hope, Pa.

“Many homebuyers are attracted to the charm of an old house but want to purchase a brand-new home. A porch adds that desired element of charm, and builders are paying more attention to this,” Frushone says. “Also, buyers today want smaller homes … The desire for an extended, covered or wraparound porch goes along with this trend, since a front porch becomes an extension of the main house for family members to enjoy themselves or when hosting social gatherings.”

In short, a porch adds usable overall living space, even if interior square footage is lessened. And, it’s cheaper to build than indoor living space. For years, many builders quit building front porches as a cost-saving measure and to devote more lot space to the rear yard.

“Porches fell out of popularity because everyone was looking to maximize indoor square footage,” says Maria Zendejas, Realtor/ CEO of Realty World Golden Era in Oxnard, Calif. “But the new trend of healthy living is encouraging outdoor space and community-style living, where you want to be part of a community and know your neighbors.”

John Egnatis, CEO/co-founder of Grenadier Homes, a Dallas-based homebuilding firm, agrees that many buyers currently prefer quality over quantity and now place a higher emphasis on architectural details. “Front porches are more attractive and can yield a higher resale value,” Egnatis says. “They’re particularly appealing to baby boomers, because many are now empty nesters looking for new ways to enjoy fresh air and connect with family members and neighbors in a shaded area that is somewhat protected from extreme weather conditions.”

In 2014, home hunters seeking snazzier porches are looking for many preferred options and extras, including stucco walls, ceiling fans, wood floors, teak finishes, wicker furniture, retractable screens/shades, and enhanced lighting, says Joe Sale, a Realtor with Smith and Associates Real Estate in Tampa, Fla. These and other amenities not only add to the home’s comfort and style and can make a huge impact on curb appeal, as it’s the first thing people see on a finished house, he says.

Egnatis suggests a porch with a minimum of

6 to 8 feet of shade cover.

“The wider you make it, the more options you have to customize the porch, and wider porches are more popular right now,” he says. “The materials and overall look and feel of the porch should also complement the room that’s attached to it.”

But, if you’re building a new home from scratch, be careful not to sacrifice too much backyard space to accommodate a porch, which could hurt your resale, says Zendejas.

Lastly, once built, be prepared to keep the porch looking great.

“Anything inviting that makes a house stand out in a good way is always desirable, and a front porch can do that. But it can instantly detract from the home if the porch is in disrepair or used as more of a storage area,” adds Frushone.

© CTW Features