A porch can be a very useful addition to a house; even a canopy will offer a surprising amount of shelter while you fumble for your keys.
A fully enclosed porch will stop all the heat escaping from the house on wintry days and can be a handy store for all those coats, galoshes and football boots that pile up in the hall. It’s an addition that usually doesn’t need planning permission though there are some exceptions.
Will You Need Planning Permission?
In England and Wales, as long as a porch doesn’t cover more than three square metres and is less than two metres from any boundary with a highway (this includes footpaths) you should not need planning permission.
You will need to apply for planning permission if you plan to include either a fuel store or a toilet, or if it the enclosure will cover any ventilation that connects from the inside of the house to the exterior.
Even if you do comply with the rules set out above, you may still need planning permission if your area is covered by any blanket restrictions, such as being under a conservation order or similar.
This can be checked out with your local planning office, which you can find in the telephone book.
One final word about planning permission is that regulations often change and it is wise to check the latest regulations directly with your local planners.
Enclosing a Recessed Front Door
There are a number of different types of porch and which one you are able to build will depend to a large extent on how your front entrance is treated at the moment.
If you have a recessed front door, as was popular with Victorian, Edwardian and Thirties suburban houses, you can simply block in that recess either with brickwork or glass, or a combination of the two.
Do be careful to keep it in keeping with the property, as you want it to enhance the house, not detract from it.
Consider moving the original front door to the outside, and putting the new door between the porch and house, which will help harmonise the new frontage.
If you have a plain frontage and your house opens out pretty much onto the street, as in workers’ terraced houses from the turn of the century, you will probably only be able to consider a canopy mounted over the door.
Look at other examples in the street or nearby and pick something that blends in and fits the period.
Some houses have existing canopies that you might be able to infill with a combination of wood, brick or glass, but make sure a damp-proof course in incorporated.
Again, it’s important to get the style right, as a bad job on the entrance will immediately put new buyers off your home.
Many of the guidelines above apply just as much to a full-blown porch addition, that is, making sure the materials match the rest of the house and that the design complements it.
Think also about whether or not you can make entry to the house easier by putting the new door opening in the side rather than the front.
This may also give you more useable space in the finished porch. Again, using the existing front door in the new position and installing a new internal door in the existing front doorway may help integrity.
Assuming you will use a lot of glass in the porch to retain as much light as possible coming into the hallway, try to pick windows that match or complement those of the house.
Remember also that you will need proper foundations, even for an all-timber structure, and you must damp-proof the junction between the walls and those of the house, at the roof level and at the sides.
Take a Trip
If you doubt whether it is worthwhile trying to make the addition blend in, and you are tempted to install the cheapest windows and building materials you can find, take a tour round any development in your area that’s over fifty years old and assess the additions you will find there.
You’ll soon be able to pick out the design failures; don’t let your new porch become another one.