Our DIY Drama (or Why Building a Porch to Relax on Can Be Very Stressful)

Category: Restore & Repair

Here's our submission for the DIY Drama contest currently running over at Houseblogs.net. We aren't technically eligible since we're also running the contest, but it gives us something to write about... ;-)


Our latest (of many) lessons learned is also part of our latest project. (No surprise, I guess, since we seem to have one for every project.)It has to do with rebuilding our back porch.

We want to maximize the usable space on our porch. That's why in our new design we're moving the stairway from within the footprint of the porch to now be straight out the front.

That also means we need to eliminate space required by the old basement stairwell. The old stairwell came straight off the back of the house here.


That placement meant that there was a big box within the main room that allowed for enough headroom for the stairwell. Here's a shot of how much floorspace it too from the interior.


Getting this back as usable space turned out to be no small issue. After looking at a bunch of options, we determined that the most cost effective approach was to move the entire stairwell. Note we didn't say 'cheapest'...there's no cheap option here.

The new stairwell will exit from the side of the house, over here:


Did we expect this when we started the project? Not exactly. We were originally thinking we'd redirect the existing stairwell to exist out of the original porch footprint--still a big change but one that didn't involve cutting an entire new hole in the foundation of our house. Unfortunately that idea ended up to be even more complex and expensive.

To cap it off, the kicker was that we'd just installed a new door in the old stairwell. Even if we re-used the old door that's a lot of labor for nothing. :-(

So, there's our DIY drama. The lesson learned? I guess it's (1) no project happens in isolation, so plan ahead several projects down the road and (2) it's always more complicated than you originally thought.

OK, we probably new #2 already at this point but it's one of those lessons that you keep relearning again and again when doing a renovation.

This post was written for Houseblogs.net as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by True Value.

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Can you access the basement from inside the house? What about losing the back stairs entirely and just putting in an escape window?

Interesting idea. I think it's a code requirement in Chicago to have basement egress that includes a stairwell.

Regardless, in our case we want the ability to move furniture in/out of the basement and the interior stairwell isn't adequate for that purpose. Some sort of exterior stairwell is going to be very helpful.

Thanks for the thought.

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@Vinyl Outlet - East of use? I can only place your product facing east? for feng shui purposes?

Yeah, complications doesnt just happen to DIY projects, but to any projects out there regardless of its subject.

I've always said that DIY projects is just like life or chess, we need to begin with the end in mind. One supposedly good move here can come back to screw you later. BUt that's what makes life fun, or miserable.

Anyway, I'm just curious since I saw your neighbor's house, but do your neighbors read your blog?


I hear ya--our tiny little renovation project is trying to EAT US ALL ALIVE! Bravo--keep it up because it looks awesome and there will be reward in the DIY part! Right? We wonder sometimes ;)

We are so lucky and adore the neighbors on both sides of us. I know a lot of folks can't say that :) Yes, the neighbors know about the blog, they know about our BIG LOVE for them, and they are very supportive. We hope they never, ever, ever MOVE!

This is good info! Where else can if ind out more?? Who runs this joint too? Keep up the good work :)

Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

Love the blog here. Nice colors. I am definitely staying tuned to this one. Hope to see more.

I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I'm very very impressed.

Nice!! Great Ifo. Great People. Great Blog. Thank you for all the great sharing that is being done here.

I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I'm very very impressed.


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