Can You DIY A Screened In Porch Or Is It Time To Call In The Professionals?

Sitting out on the porch and enjoying the fresh air, reading a good book, or enjoying a cup of coffee can all be ruined in a second. Gnats flying around your head, flies landing in your coffee, and mosquitos trying to get a taste are all a few reasons why you may opt to be inside. However, a screened in porch can help alleviate these problems and turn your space into an outdoor oasis. But what if you have a porch that's not screened in? Is it a project you can take on yourself? In most cases, yes, you can DIY this project, particularly if your home already has the right kind of porch. But if you have the wrong kind of porch for the project, it might be best to hire a professional for the job.

If your home already has a porch, screening it in is usually just a matter of purchasing the materials and installing the mesh. The screen material costs, on average, between $3 and $5 per square foot, so it can also be a fairly inexpensive project to take on yourself. However, the complexity and the cost of the project goes up if your porch doesn't have a roof or side railings or wall structures to hold the screen. Or, in a more serious situation, your home may not have a porch at all. Both of these situations may be better left to the professionals.

What permits are required for a screened in porch

When it comes to doing work on your home, many projects often need permission in the form of a permit. So, if you want to screen in your porch, do you have to obtain a permit? Well, it depends on the extent of the project as well as where your home is located. In most areas, if there is an existing porch and you simply want to add screening material, permits usually aren't necessary. This is because you aren't doing any kind of construction that adds to, subtracts from, or changes the structure of your property.

However, larger building projects, especially ones that deal with structural changes, will require a permit. This includes adding a roof over the porch or having a new porch built completely. Similarly, if you want to enclose a porch by building wall panels, you will also likely need a permit. So, not only will you want to factor in the cost of the construction but also the cost of the permit.

The cost for a permit can range, on average, between $50 and $2,000, depending on the scope of the project. This is, of course, very general. What projects require a permit and the cost of building permits vary by area. It's best to check your local building codes to ensure you have the right permits and to find out how much they'll cost for your specific project.

Screening in your own porch

As stated, screening in an existing porch is a DIY option as long as your home has a porch that's conducive to it. This often means a porch covered with a permanent roof structure and columns that connect with a railing or the floor in order to support the screening material. This style of porch will be simple for most homeowners to screen in on their own. Further, if you're handy with building, you may also be able to build the frame for the walls on a porch that already has a roof.

There are a few options for porch screening materials, including fiberglass, high-visibility, and aluminum screens. These can be bought in large rolls, like the Phifer Pet Screen that is 36 inches by 100 feet, for around $180 per roll at Home Depot. There's also the Phiferglass GlasShield screen that has the same measurements for $229, also from Home Depot. You may also need tools every homeowner should have including a miter saw, cordless drill, straight edge, cutting snips, or roller knife. Another option is to purchase a screen in porch kit, such as from Screen Porch Living, which will have all the components necessary to do the project yourself on an existing porch.

Larger projects may require a professional

In the right cases, screening in an existing porch can be a simple weekend DIY and a great way to update your front porch. However, for bigger projects, even the most handy people may want to consider hiring a professional. In some cases, a contractor may first have to build or frame-in your porch before it can be screened in. Or, if you don't have a roof over your porch, one will have to be built. These are considered an exterior renovation in most places, which will require building permits and plans to make the structure legal. When it comes to structural building projects, these are often best handled by professionals to ensure they're done right.

Of course, these larger projects will often come at a higher cost as well. Not only will you have to pay for materials, but you'll also have to pay for the labor. Adding a roof can cost between $16 to $30 per square foot, on average, for asphalt shingles. Labor will cost about $5.35 to $7.55 per square foot on top of the cost of materials. If you're building a porch, you may also need to consider flooring, railings, and staircases, which often have building codes associated with them. Therefore, homeowners should consider hiring a contractor to handle more complicated projects.