Just ask Santa! It's all about the roof … and its support

It’s that time of year! We get caught up in the holiday whirl of gift-giving, entertaining and sharing special meals. There’s so much going on right now, and if you’re hosting the family’s Christmas dinner, you may be asking yourself, where am I going to put everyone?

Families grow! New boyfriends, girlfriends and babies come along. Maybe this year you’re including a neighbor or church member who would otherwise be alone for the holidays. Will you have room for everyone? Now, more than ever, additional outdoor living space is appreciated.

Have you considered converting your deck into a porch — a screened porch or a covered porch? Either one would give you more seating space for a big holiday gathering. Our Georgia winters are often mild enough that a porch can provide the additional space you need.

You may have had another company tell you how easily they can convert an existing deck into a porch. They may have told you that every deck is a candidate. This is not necessarily the case! Any reputable builder would need to inspect your deck and its substructure thoroughly before deciding whether it can support a roof.

Yes, it’s all about the roof. Just ask Santa! To convert a deck to a porch — either a screened porch or a covered porch (also called an open porch) — we add a roof. Suddenly, we’re adding a good bit of weight to the structure. When your deck was built, was it designed to hold the additional weight of a roof? Most homeowners don’t know whether that was the case.

Archadeck of Central Georgia can perform an inspection to determine whether your deck meets the criteria for a conversion. Depending on the results, we will give you our recommendations as to how to proceed. If necessary, this might include increasing the deck’s structural support to accommodate the increased weight of a porch roof.


— Spacious screened porch in Warner Robins, GA

If the idea of a deck-to-porch conversion interests you, here are some points to consider:

Using a professional

It is absolutely essential to hire an outdoor-structure professional who is knowledgeable about decks, porches and conversions. Hiring a professional ensures the safety and quality of your project. Archadeck of Central Georgia has completed more deck-to-porch conversions than we can count. None of them have collapsed under the additional weight of a roof. We have the experience and expertise you need.

Can your deck take the weight?

Even if the frame of your deck is in good shape, the likelihood it will bear the weight of a roof without additional support is slim — unless it was built with the idea of converting it later. Does the deck’s underlying support structure extend all the way to the corners of the deck? In cases where the foundation does not extend to the corners, new support piers will have to be added in order to safely support the weight of a porch roof.

In honor of the season, let’s put it this way. Your deck would have to be able to support the weight of Santa, his sleigh and nine not-so-tiny reindeer (including Rudolph) to be considered structurally sound to handle the load requirements of a conversion. Here’s how we break it down: the sleigh weighs about 1200 lbs., 9 reindeer weigh in at 400 lbs. each = 3600 lbs. and of course Santa comes in at around 300 lbs. This equals a little over 5,000 lbs. — or 2.5 tons!

Permitting

Your city or county government requires a builder’s work to be permitted and inspected. This means the existing structure, assuming it passed inspection, was deemed sound — as a deck. Even so, it may not be structurally sound enough for a conversion to a porch. That possibility was not taken into consideration when the deck’s construction initially passed inspection.


— This Roberta, GA, screen porch features a bay-shaped roof!

Most builders only warrant the framed portion of the structure that they build. If something goes wrong with the substructure as a result of the addition of a roof system, their warranty no longer applies. This is why we recommend reinforcing the support structure for all the decks we build.

Some homeowners choose to convert an existing deck into a porch and then add a new deck on to that structure. It’s something to think about, and it’s a project that can be completed in phases if that’s easier on your budget.

Choosing the best fit for your home, your budget and the way you plan to use the space is important. Archadeck of Central Georgia is the premier deck builder and porch builder serving Macon, Warner Robins and the surrounding area. We can determine if a deck-to-porch-conversion is the best option for you. Contact us to learn more by calling (478) 745 – 2000 or via email at centralgeorgia@archadeck.net. We would love to talk with you.


Stephen Denton, owner Archadeck of Central Georgia.
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