HVAC is key step in patio plan, Atlanta-area expert says

HVAC is key step in patio plan, Atlanta-area expert says

What should I consider before building a screened-in porch or sunroom?

With a sunroom, you usually want to think about how you're going to have it heated and cooled. Will you install an independent heating and cooling unit, or tie it into the existing unit?

We do a lot more screened porches than sunrooms. They're just more popular and less expensive. A screened porch starts at around $10,000 and a sunroom usually costs double that. But either one will increase your home's resale value; you can expect to recover about 70 to 80 percent of your investment. The average job takes about two to three weeks.

Generally, when we go out for the first time, we want to see where the customer wants the sunroom or porch situated. Then we try to figure out how the new sunroom or porch roof will tie into the existing roof line.

We ask the customer how they plan on using the room, which gives us a good idea of how much space they're going to require. Then we advise them on what would be a good size. If you have a homeowners association, you'll need to get their approval before we build. We then obtain the building permits, which includes inspecting the home's property lines.

There are always setbacks that vary by jurisdiction that tell you how close you can build to the property lines. Things like underground utilities don't usually affect where the sunroom is situated, we just have to be more careful about where the foundation footers are poured.

There are a lot of roofing options, but most times we're going to try to match the existing roof and shingle style the home already has.

As far as materials, there are a number of different synthetic and composite deck boards made from recycled wood and plastic. For sunrooms, there are federal rebates of up to 30 percent available for new energy-efficient windows. We generally try to stay with the style of the existing home's windows, but we typically do upgrade them in terms of energy efficiency.

We also install a lot of fireplaces in the sunrooms and screened porches we build. We can also enclose screened porches with custom plastic screens, which seal off the area, making it like a sunroom, but without the expense of casement windows.

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