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An elevation is another type of
drawing you will find very useful.
An elevation (like the whole house one above) is drawn as though you were viewing one face of the porch from directly in front of you. Thus, everything will be two dimensional. For example, if you are drawing the Beam above the Posts, you will show only the face of the Beam. Likewise, only the face of the Posts will show. (If you were drawing to show the third dimension, then you would be making a perspective drawing, but perspectives are better left to artists and draftspersons. Of course, if you are an artist or draftsperson, have at it... your time will be well spent!
You'll want to draw a front and both side elevations. Then you'll be able to see what your porch will look like viewed from the front and from either side. You will be richly rewarded for the time and effort expended on the elevations, as it is always much easier to change
your mind on paper!
Again, we need to establish the existing conditions. With your metal tape, measure the height of the wall (or walls) of the building to which your porch will be attached. (You can "read" your floor plan to determine the length of this existing wall.)
We will begin with the front elevation. Using the same scale you established for your floor plan, draw light lines representing the ground level, and the length and height of the building side to which your porch will be attached. Locate all doors and windows, and transfer them to your elevation, showing how tall they are. (Use the bottom of the door(s) as your baseline, because the floor of the
porch will be just slightly below this level.) Use a light touch to your pencil, as we will want to erase portions of these lines as we proceed.
It is important that you take reasonable care in producing this graphical representation of existing conditions onto your elevation. The ultimate success of your porch depends upon the accuracy you are establishing now!
A Quick Sketch
Once you are satisfied with your portrayal of existing conditions, we can draw in the porch itself. But at this point it is often helpful to set aside for a moment our actual elevation, and work from a rough sketch. We need to verify that our intended porch is going to work! To do this, let's make a quick, rough copy of our elevation. (If a copier is handy, run a quick copy on the machine.)
Sketch onto your copy the length and height of the intended porch, indicating the floor line, steps, roof line, Posts, and the Beam above the Posts. Try to use roughly the scale of your elevation in making this sketch. Then you can verify certain rough measurements, such as the length of your Porch Posts.
We are drawing just enough to represent the porch as it would be before adding any decorative trim. Sketch in the roof line in sufficient detail to assure that the wall(s) of the existing building are high enough to accept your porch along its entire length.
You may need to make several adjustments to this quick sketch before all of the porch elements are in harmony. Do not be concerned with neatness at this point; we merely need to get a quick idea of how our porch "fits" its building! Once you are satisfied with this quick
sketch, let's move back to your "official" elevation...
Begin with a line to represent the floor of the porch. Remember, for most porches, the floor is set an inch or two below the bottom of the door(s) of the building to which the porch is attached. This allows proper water drainage. If your porch floor is to be of wood or PVC, you may want a second line on your Elevation to indicate the thickness of the floor.
Draw in your representation of the foundation the porch floor rests on. (You may want to refer to the Foundation and Floor section in Structural Porch Components for a discussion on types of foundations, or you can skip drawing in the foundation until later.)
Now draw the Posts, both Porch and Newel. Refer to your floor plan for locations. Typically, Porch Posts are set in slightly from the edge of the floor. If the floor is to be of wood, it will normally overhang the structure below it by about 1", and the Porch Posts are then set back from the edge of the floor by this same amount, allowing them to rest firmly on the underlying structure. Using your
previously determined scale, draw in the Posts so that you are representing their thickness, as well as their height.
Draw in the Beam above the Porch Posts.
Referring to the description of fascia and soffit in the section on Roof Structure if necessary, draw in the overhanging eave of your porch. Remember, since we are still working on the front elevation (by definition, only two dimensional), all that your drawing will show is the face of the eave. This board is called the fascia. Our interest here is in seeing the balance between the depth
of the fascia, the depth of the Beam, and the depth of the porch roof.
The Roof Line
Drawing the roof line is easier than it might seem, since again you are only concerned with the view directly from the front. Most porch roofs will look more traditional if they are "hipped". By that we mean that they do not have triangular gables at their ends. Rather, the roof "wraps" around the end of the porch. The choice of roof style is up to you.
Porch with hipped roof.
A Review Of the Front Elevation
Pause for a few moments to study the elevation you have just drawn...
Review again the Quick Checklist concerning placement of Porch Posts. Verify
that a pleasing symmetry has been achieved.
Have you been able to avoid placing Porch Posts in front of windows or doors?
Does the porch, as you have drawn it on your elevation, match the dimensions
and layout of your floor plan?
Does your porch meet your original goals, as set forth in the Quick Checklist?
Are there trees or other obstructions that would prevent the porch being built
as you have it drawn?
Do you need secondary steps to access a side yard?
In short, are you looking at a drawing of your Dream Porch? If not, it is much
easier to make your changes now! Often setting your plan and elevation aside
for a day or two will give you renewed inspiration. Remember ...
Take your time.
Enjoy the work as you proceed.
(You should not expect of yourself that you can, in one burst of energy, create your finished masterpiece.)
Life is not merely results, however grand,
But mainly the thoughts, the actions, and
The individual moments leading to a goal.
(View the planning, the design, and the drawing phases as some of the fun, part of the challenge, and much of the joy that you can derive from this project!)
Your added bonus is the joy, the satisfaction, And the memory of a job well done.
Decorative Trim Items
If all appears well with your front elevation, you should now draw in the anticipated decorative components. This will allow you the opportunity to further verify that everything will fit on the actual porch! We do not need an artistic rendition at this point, as we are concerned with fit and overall balance, not your drawing skills (or lack thereof!). Therefore, you may represent the decorative
components as triangles and rectangles.
You will probably want to refer at this time to the sections on Decorative Porch Parts as a refresher on the possibilities available for your porch. Remember, your elevation is very easy to change. Don't hesitate to experiment with various combinations of trim. For future reference, it is a good idea to indicate on your elevation the stock numbers of the items you are tentatively selecting.
When selecting your Decorative Trim, please pay particular attention to the distance from porch floor to bottom of trim items over the steps. (A standard door opening is 6' 8" tall.) Unless your family includes a very tall person, it is generally permissible to fudge a little, but 6' 6" should be about the shortest clearance.
We have considerable experience and are knowledgeable about the available options for decorative items for porches. Please do not hesitate to give us a call if we can be of any assistance...
You should also take the time to draw side elevations, showing a view
of your porch as seen from either end. Follow the same steps you have
just used for the front elevation.
Typically, your decorative items will continue to the wall of the
building to which the porch is attached. Thus, a Bracket (if
Brackets are used on the front of the porch) will also be used
against this wall. Rather than attach a Bracket or other decoration directly to the wall, the preferred technique is to use a Half Porch Post at the wall to provide
a more finished look where Porch and building connect.
You are now well on your way to realizing your dream porch!
You are familiar with the various features of a porch, both structural and decorative. More importantly, you understand how and where these components are used, and how they relate to one another and to the completed porch...
If you will be the one building your porch, you know many of the "tricks of the trade" that are now almost a lost art. If someone else is to do the actual construction, you are now much better prepared to oversee and appreciate the construction process...
And perhaps most significantly, you are now ready to proceed with your project, secure in the knowledge that it will be just what you've always wanted... that graceful and peaceful retreat... that special, restful place... in short, your own Magnificent Porch.
Good Luck, and have a wonderful time designing, building, and enjoying your porch!
We are available by phone or email for free personalized consultation.
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