Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Builders say demand for front porches rising

By Mary Beth Breckenridge mcclatchy-tribune

A front porch is more than a shelter from the elements. It's a friendly face on a home, a comfortable bridge between our private lives and our public selves. And almost by its very presence, it conveys neighborliness.

That's a big part of the reason housing experts believe the front porch is regaining its importance in home construction.

Increasing demand for front porches in new homes was projected by most of the 60 builders, architects, designers and other specialists who were surveyed for the National Association of Home Builders' Home of the Future study in 2007.

Among the panelists, 70 percent predicted front porches would become popular in new homes of about 2,400 square feet, while 79 percent expected it to be a desired feature in upscale homes of 3,000 feet or more. The experts aren't talking about porches intended primarily for decoration, noted Steve Melman, the association's director of economic services.

"This is something where you could actually sit out," a covered space big enough to accommodate a swing or a table and chairs. Melman thinks the movement has several roots.

Front porches fit with the trend toward traditional home design, and they meet homeowners' desire for a more casual lifestyle, he said.

What's more, Melman said, porches feed people's desire to belong. A front porch is an icon of the American neighborhood, and its presence helps create a sense of community almost instantly".

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Thomas M. Leigh, Architect is currently designing a front porch addition for a 1970's home in Cortlandt Manor, NY; a Hudson River Town.

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