Front Porch Facelift

Today on In the House, we give Juan some advice on a front exterior renovation. Juan you are in the house, how can we help you this morning?

Juan: Hi, we are redoing the entire front of our house. We put in new pavers and expanded our driveway. Now we are working on the entry stoop area, and we want to change our round columns to square. We also want to put light fixtures on it and replace the tiles. We've called around to several handyman-type folks, but it seems like nobody wants to come and take a look at it. I don't know if you need a permit or if you need licenses to do those 3 projects in that one area. What are your thoughts?

Jared: The round columns don't have lights in them now, right?

Juan: Correct.

Jared: Yes, Juan, adding the electrical to that area would require a licensed electrician, and then that electrician would likely pull a permit. If you asked most municipalities whether or not that would require a permit, they would say yes. Now oftentimes with those rounds columns, there's a support beam that is on the inside and that round column is just a decorative piece that goes around  - or the round column could be the actual structure itself. How you handle refacing that column - making it a square column instead - would depend on what the structure itself is. Usually, they are just a decorative piece and you’d need to remove that piece and reframe around that post inside the existing column.

You really only have 2 spots - the top or the bottom - you're going to get the electrical in. In the bottom it would be on a slab so you'd have to cut into the slab. The easiest way to bring that electrical in is through the top of the column, usually into the under-roof or the attic area using some sort of junction box or connection to an existing electrical in the attic, if there is some. If not, then you would have to run a new wire from the breaker box or panel, wherever that is, and then run the electrical over to that area. Then obviously you need to put a switch somewhere, probably at the front of the home.

This is not necessarily a single person that would do all this. You could have a trim carpenter for the trim on the column. Then you'd have an electrician who would do the electrical part and a tile guy for the tile install. They're three different skill sets.This is not a huge project, but most general contractors’ businesses are set up to do larger projects. Because this is kind of small, you will need to consider either finding a contractor to do it all or overseeing several craftsmen yourself. Keep in mind, usually true craftsman have a tendency to focus on their own trade and will do a quality job.

I'm a general contractor and our focus is on roofing, siding and windows, so it's not something that I can really help you out with. Please call my office, and I can refer a good electrician to you. Thanks Juan, and good luck with this project!

Juan: Thanks, Jared. I appreciate your advice.

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