Outdoor living contractors say Charlotte homeowners invest wisely in outdoor patios and porches.
Whether hosting a meditation class or listening to the rain tap her roof, Angie’s List member Nancy Curl never tires of the screened-in porch she had installed in October.
Among Charlotte-area residents, her case hardly stands out.
“It’s certainly a very popular thing in our area,” says Doug Lynch, owner of highly rated Exterior Additions of Indian Trail, which built Curl’s porch.
Service providers and local members mostly attributed Charlotte homeowners’ enthusiasm for decks, porches and patios to the area’s temperate climate, which averages high temperatures of 65 degrees or warmer from late March through early November.
“Charlotte has a lot of very nice weather, so anything you can do to extend the time you can play outside is good,” Curl says. She and her husband, Wayne, hired Exterior Additions for their $33,000 project, which included porcelain tile flooring, a beaded ceiling with fans and skylights, and an adjacent deck.
"Remodeling and renovating is strong in this region,” says John Morgan, president of highly rated Urban Building Group of Charlotte, which focuses on porches and high-end amenities like outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits. “Our climate definitely puts more resale value on porches.”
Member Jamie Faile of Charlotte hired Exterior Additions after consulting with two other contractors to demolish his deteriorating deck and replace it with a screened-in porch and adjoining deck for $18,000. Faile says Exterior Additions handled the permit process, including the building inspection required by Mecklenburg County.
“They did all the heavy lifting on that,” he says. The county requires permits for any home additions exceeding $5,000 or extension of electrical, mechanical or plumbing systems, which includes outdoor kitchens.
Morgan says homeowners should expect contractors to handle the permit process. “I’d be hesitant if the contractor asks the owner to do that,” Morgan says. “It could be a sign that the contractor doesn’t hold the proper licensing.”
South Carolina requires that anyone building decks, porches and patios hold a residential contractor’s license and North Carolina requires a general contractor’s license for jobs over $30,000.
Prices for outdoor living spaces vary, depending on the job’s size and scope. “An entry-level, nice screened room can be in the $15,000 range,” Lynch says. More elaborate jobs can cost up to $100,000, though prices for conventional decks and patios remain on par with each other, Morgan adds.
“The thing that drives the cost is the amenities,” he says. Homeowners who want luxuries in their outdoor environs add fireplaces and TVs to porches or built-in grills or kitchens to patios.
Morgan says solid planning alleviates the need for major repairs down the line.
“Sometimes you have things drawn correctly, but the elevation’s off a little,” he says, adding that homeowners’ association members should secure permission before a project. “Make sure you have a clear, dimensioned plan that shows what the homeowner should receive before you sign a contract.”