For Our Next Trick, We Will Levitate This Front Porch!


Water is so essential for life and yet it has the ability to ruin structures if a problem is left unchecked. Poor water management is to blame for so many porch rebuilds that we work on. For this particular front porch, poor water management caused this porch to settle, which directed water to other areas to then create other prpnlems which compound one on top of another. If left too long, high repair bills or replacement costs will follow.

For this particular project, we have a few goals here: have an engineer assess if current piers are structurally adequate to remain, remove existing flooring, replace existing framing, install new tongue and groove fir flooring, address sagging or rotted areas, evaluate and repair or replace existing columns, adjust the roof line and pitch by adapting column height, remove existing roofing and pan gutter, replace with new copper pan and TPO roof, install new custom made handrail and newels to match existing historic details, paint, trench to move water from downspouts away from the structure and wrap up. While fairly straightforward in its concept, we have to put some time to thinking about the steps to this approach in order to maintain structural integrity.

We must first brace and support the columns and work to bring both the columns and roof up together. This allows us to get the columns off the floor and out of the way in order to remove the flooring. We then will adjust framing to make the flooring level along the length of the porch while giving adequate pitch to all water to run off. An engineer has already evaluated piers and assessed that they are good and static if water management is porperly addressed in future. Once we get the first floor framing sorted we now begin to repair or replace the columns to be able to set the final pitch of the roof. With the columns set, new tongue and groove fir flooring can be installed. From there we will demo upper handrail, roofing and integrated gutter. At this point, we will assess the roof and see if any roof decking needs to be replaced and evaluate how we will adjust the pitch in the pan of the integrated gutter so we will be able to add 1 or 2 outlets for downspouts. Where the downspouts run down, we will trench and run water out and away from the structure using PVC pipe. With all of that completed we will install a new roof, install a copper pan for the integrated gutter and new 2nd floor handrail and newels to match historic handrail that was there.

Day 1:

We brace and block to support the porch as we begin the next steps of raising the columns.

You can see the sag in the columns and flooring from water damage and settling.

We leveled out the columns to an even plane. Each column was jacked using a laser level to make sure all column heights were consistent. We found the furthest column to be too rotten to use again and have isolated this spot with further bracing. Each column was jacked up and then left to “rest” as we are applying a lot of movement at one time. measurements were pulled from the ceiling and the bottom box beam.


We continued to shore up and brace with a suedo “truss” system. The porch is now held up entirely by all of the bracing so we can get to work on the 1st floor framing, flooring and fascia.

The railing on the first floor came down today as well as all of the decking. Because of the age of the house, we are assuming we are dealing with lead paint and as per the EPA regulations and guidelines, and being that we are a lead certified firm, we dealt with the demo as per regulations. You will see a lot of plastic being used, and all demo materials assumed to have lead paint will be disposed of in a specific manner.


At this point the Columns are hovering and the porch is supported by our bracing.


All flooring and Framing have been removed except for 2 joists that were saved. Today will be a slow go as we set the perimeter. Once that is set, the rest will move more smoothly.

Our amazing flooring crew is in installing tongue and groove fir.


We are removing and addressing the existing roof and pan gutter and getting ready for new roofing.

At this point we are having our roofers in to add a new TPO roof, our amazing copper craftsmans install the copper pan for the new integrated gutters, and then we will be back to install the new handrail and newels. Stay tuned and we will update!

Ladd Suydam