Best way to add small front step on flip, need design ideas

15 Replies

Hello.  I am attaching a photo, and as you can see the cement slab there falls short of the front door.  How best do you think to add something here from both a design and general code perspective.  Thanks.

Build wood steps, a small landing, and handrail. Consider a couple of columns connecting to the portico roof as a way to tie the steps to the house. Those knee braces look a bit shaky as it is.

Judging from the photo it appears to be code compliant already. I'd save that money for a more pressing repair.

@Matt Clark , I believe code is 7.75" maximum step down?  If so, we are unfortunately a little bigger step down than that at probably 9 or 10".  I suppose we could leave it and then address it if it got called in an inspection?  We are definitely not looking for more projects, but want it to be right.

@Aaron McGinnis , had sort of thought along those lines as well.  Would definitely be an improvement.  But this small town house is going to sell in about the $150,000 range (max), so have to really pick and choose my improvements.

Codes vary from one locality to another, maybe another BPer from your area can chime in. We're allowed 8" here.

It may be compliant with the code in force when it was built, which is usually what matters.

@Kathryn Bowden if it's existing it might be grandfathered. if you're on a budget, wait for the corrections, if there's a couple hundred, build ir and add value.

Here is what we did on a house with an issue and concrete to deal with.

No handrails needed unless over 30" off the ground or more than 3 steps high.

My personal house had a similar issue. I bolted some 2x10's to both sides and put composite decking over the top and then skirted the sides to hide the stoop. That alone doesn't look like it would be enough to make up for the height difference(the decking only adds about an inch) so you might need to add some 2x4's to the surface of the stoop in addition to the 2x10's on the side and screw the decking on top of those.

I wouldn't wait for it to be called out from the inspection. This will only slow the process for funding / selling the house. I would address it right away but would only build something just big enough to cover the existing slab / step. 

Here is a simple idea to cover it.

Image result for small front porch deck ideas

I would keep it simple, less is more!

Very good ideas, thank you.  And those photos are along the lines of what we were thinking.  What about the idea of say, flagstone?  Perhaps that's not easy to make look good or perfectly flat ....

I would say flagstone is more money, takes longer and is less stable than a simple wood design. Don't get me wrong! I love flagstone.

Hi Kathryn,

I absolutely would add a landing that's at least the size of the gable, and whatever your local code requires in relation to floor level (usually 1-1/2" to around 4" lower). Build a step that's the same width, or even wider and slightly wraps around the landing.

Then, as Aaron suggested, have two ample supporting posts (not to skinny! err on the side of too large) at the front of the gable to create a portico. Design the columns with a larger base no taller than the bottom of the windows. Want to use some stone? Cover the bases with it.

A railing would be optional. Eliminate the knee braces. Paint the columns and the trim under the table white, and do the entry door in a darker, richer color that complements the shingles.

Keep in mind, the entry is THE most important feature of the front elevation, so you always want to celebrate it as much as possible.

@Jeff Berg , thanks for the great explanation.  Yes, I agree, it's kind of a no-brainer and not all that hard to do.  I had ruled anything like that out for the fact that the house will probably not sell for more than $150,000.  But now I'm adding it to my list of items to keep under consideration.  Btw, we will definitely be painting that door an interesting color.  We put that in new (replaced 32" old door) and have not done any of the trim painting yet, etc. (except a little bright white primer that you see in a couple of places).  We were considering a midnight velvety blue for the front door or possibly a green, but were going to wait till we have the siding stained (semi-transparent), before we make a final decision.

@Kathryn Bowden in case you don't know. 

I noticed in the picture, the gable end still needs some shingles at the very top installed unless you have since installed them.

Thank you, @Matt Gragg .  Yes, we weren't quite done.  :-)  Also, we're planning on adding a little plywood insert in that triangle on the overhang above the door, which we will also shingle.  It will be easy to do, and maybe add a little extra umph.  

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