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Rebuilding the Porch

I’ve been having trouble with my wooden porch for ages. A few years ago I had a major problem with a leaking roof and the builder pointed out then a load of other problems with it – he was basically angling to get me to agree to have the whole thing rebuilt. I couldn’t afford that at the time, so got him just to fix the roof (which took multiple visits over several months) and install some better ventilation. Then just last year I had some of the rotten timbers and planking replaced at the front of the porch, which I knew at the time was just postponing the inevitable. It was clear that at some point fairly soon I’d have to bite the bullet and get some serious work done on it.

Back in February I started having problems closing the porch door – it looked like the newer part of the porch had shifted and was causing the door to stick. I got Rob the decorator/handyman to come around and look at it, but I wasn’t pleased with what he found! The new wood was in fact ok, but the old structural timbers behind it were very rotten, well past the point of fixing with wood hardener. Worse, the porch, being Victorian, had been built without a damp-proof course and the whole thing was gradually rotting from the bottom up, causing the whole porch to slump down at one corner. It was no wonder that the door was sticking!

I bowed to the inevitable and arranged to have the porch rebuilt from the ground up to the level of the top of the door. The top bit above that appears to be relatively sound, so I saw no reason to completely replace it. But even the chunk that I’m having done is a pretty big job, as I want it to match as much as possible the old porch, and that means having it all made by hand by a joiner. An off-the-shelf plastic porch would just look wrong on a house this age. But of course once the men turned up on Friday to start demolishing the old structure and installing the new one, they found more problems that will need fixing. Some of them are largely trivial – I’ll need a new doorbell, and I may as well have a new robust internal shelf than re-use the old and rather flimsy one. One of the new panes of glass was the wrong size, so one of the windows is currently boarded up, as the toughened glass needs to be sent back to the glaziers to be reworked, but that will be at their expense not mine, as it’s their problem.

But the big remaining issue is the porch door. At some point it was clearly re-hung at an angle, problably due to the inherent crookedness of the original porch. But the new porch is proudly upright, which means that the door doesn’t fit any more! Or at least, it fits at the top, but there is about an inch gap at the bottom! The bottom half has clearly been planed away multiple times over the last 100 years to cope with the shifting porch. I don’t want a whole new door – that would be excessive, but at the moment it just looks silly, as well as being very draughty. I think I’m going to have to send the door back to the joinery for them to glue on a wedge-shaped strip to make it the right shape again. So what I thought was a moderately substantial but fairly straightforward job is getting more and more complicated……