A Capitol Hill Facelift

Ah, the good old days. Sitting on your front porch on a warm spring day, reading the Sunday paper or taking a nap in your comfy hammock. The porch provided a respite and protection from the sun or rain. Well, maybe your porch has seen too much of the good old days and needs a facelift. 

A new or, in this case, renewed, front porch is an architectural element will gracefully invite visitors into your home and function as your outdoor living room for many months of the year.

Getting ready for the spring and summer can start now. If you walk around Capitol Hill, you will see both the old and new faces of front porches. The old face looks like a porch that’s not level, leans to one side, has rotted wood, leaks water onto the deck and has old, ugly cast iron posts. The new porch looks fresh, bright, stands tall and welcomes its guests. That’s how you want your porch to look!

Amy and Kim on 5th Street NE were in need of a porch facelift in a big way. The sagging roof was leaking badly, the wood had rotted and it looked downright dangerous. It was clear that much more than a new roof was necessary and in fact the whole porch would have to be torn down from foundation to the roof. The porch was over a hundred years old and looked it. 

After a comprehensive project plan was discussed and agreed upon it was time to go to work.  Before the project could begin however, the DC government requires that a permit be obtained from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) for new construction or any addition, alteration or repair to the exterior appearance of the property. It is the responsibility of the homeowner and contractor to obtain the right permit. If the project is within the Capitol Hill Historic District (this project was actually outside of the Historic District) review by the Historic Preservation office is required as part of the permit process.

 The project team consisted of the demolition group, or demo team, the build-out team, the painters and the roofers.  The demo team carefully dismantled the structure, keeping an eye on the connection of the porch to the brick façade and the support posts to the concrete deck in order to prevent any damage to either structure, a complicated task indeed. The old remnants were hauled away and the build-out team arrived at the job site. The creative and technical work could now begin. 

Perhaps the most aesthetically important piece to consider is the style, appearance and type of materials used for the columns. The columns’ design was simple square profile towers with decorative baseboards, and wood was the material of choice. Wooden columns add architectural interest and curb appeal. 

Another key area is to build the new roof at a proper level, so that water flows freely to the drain. On many porch roofs in Capitol Hill the drainage is a problem and water often pools on the roof. The pooling effect over time creates deterioration in both the surface roof materials and the underlying wood substrate which can start the cycle of decay once again.  

The project took more than a week for the teams to complete. There is a high degree of satisfaction for the men knowing the homeowners will have a great place to kick back and enjoy their new outdoor living room for many years to come.

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing. He is the third generation of the family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners over the course of nearly 100 years. Tom was born on Capitol Hill and is an active supporter of community organizations. For help with your roofing or masonry project, contact him at 202-569-1080 or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com. www.rthomasdanielroofing.com.


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