Here is the rear porch of the project I’m working on in Philadelphia.
This is the only spot that has finishes in place – stacked stone ledgers, cedar decking and rails, and the bead board soffit. My architect’s original design failed the zoning restrictions for setback distance and floor height above grade. It took over five months to redesign, submit, and get the city to approve the new drawings, by far the project’s worst delay.
Then, about a month ago, I found out that classifying the space as “rear open porch” instead of “deck” would allow me to keep the original square footage and height. So after months of heartache and costly delays, we end up building a rear open porch, using the original drawings. Yep. Simple as that. Took me only five months to figure that out, but live and learn, have a beer, laugh about it.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It is a rare look for this city – with most townhouses, it’s out the back door, down a few steps, and onto either a concrete patio, or that lovely inlaid brick from the late 1800s with the moss growing in between. This home had neither. This home had dirt and rubble. A rusty back door propped up by a derelict washing machine, leading to a heaping pile of car tires and beer bottles.
So, yeah, it was easy to re-imagine something entirely different for this space.
The first floor of the house is only 450 SF, and setting the porch floor at the same height as the kitchen floor was a point on which I did not want to compromise. Having everything at the same level adds livable square footage when the doors are open, and visual extension when the doors are closed.
Some aspects of my design came from a builder colleague (and fellow New Yorker), Mark Pfeffer. His houses feature steel framed window walls opening to the back. I wanted that look, but without the steel frame budget, and french doors solved the problem. (Notice how I totally bit his front door idea as well?)
Next up, we sand and treat the cedar, and put in the recessed lighting trim. Then it’s back inside to start drywall installation.