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Options for redoing exterior breezeway

This topic contains 44 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  TopNotch 6 days, 7 hours ago.

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  • #712252

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    Hi folks,

    After a long hiatus, I am returning to this site to begin keeping up with it more often again, and also to ask a question. The door to my house that I almost always use is somewhat poorly built. Pictures below illustrate the situation. There is a covered breezeway between my house and the garage (which I use as my workshop in the more temperate months).

    The decking beneath this is old wood that has started to rot through. I’m open to a new material, or I can use wood. My bigger concern is that there is no landing or railing outside the door, just two trapezoidally shaped stairs that are quite steep. It has a screen door that opens outwards, and I worry that someone will fall trying to open the door. The drop from the bottom of the door to the decking is approx 24 inches, which means each step is a foot above the previous level. They are 11 inch wide treads, but still this seems extreme. On the other side, the garage door is level with the decking.
    Further complicating things (perhaps) is that the roof is pretty tight to the top of the door. So tight, in fact, that when I installed the storm/screen door I needed to cut away some of the underside of the roof to accommodate the swing of the door.
    The way I see it, there are two options (or two good ones anyway).

    1. Create a landing at the top of the steps, then two steps down from there. If I go that route, I worry about the landing and stairs extending nearly 5 feet into the breezeway, which is only 8 feet wide at it’s narrowest. Concerned about the look of that option.

    2. Do something like what’s there already but with three steps instead of two. This would bring me back to code for stairs, and it wouldn’t extend as far towards the garage.

    Thoughts? I’m aiming for spring work on this project, so I am hoping to have a solid plan in place by then. Thanks as always for reading all this, and for your valuable input.

    #712270

    Warren6810
    Pro
    Akron, OH

    The angles on the stairs add nothing in my view. You also may need a third step, as the rise seems extreme. I could see the lowest stair being wider and wrapping around, while the other two are just standard.

    #712272

    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Is that deck below grade? The front looks like it is and the back not?

    Dirty

    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.

    #712277

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    The angles on the stairs add nothing in my view. You also may need a third step, as the rise seems extreme. I could see the lowest stair being wider and wrapping around, while the other two are just standard.

    Agree with that. Wasn’t planning on adding those. Do you think it needs a landing?

    Is that deck below grade? The front looks like it is and the back not?

    On both sides there is a small step down to either the driveway or the small garden between my house and garage. The end “joists” such as they are sit partially below grade. I’ve never seen what’s underneath the decking. Other options I am not thinking of based on that?

    #712278

    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Pro
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    Remove the decking and dig a grade beam footing along each side.. Insulate and pour a slab about 8 t0 10 inches above the existing deck so that you will have one step between the house and slab and one step to grade off of the slab. 2 risers each. Then add walls under the roof on each side and a door to the front and back, possibly a couple windows. It will give you a weather protected passage from the house to the garage and a true breezeway.

    #712279

    Yeah, I would want more landing at the house door.

    Another thing I would consider is closing in the breezeway entirely with a storm door on either side of it. 1/2 wall and the upper half all window/polycarbonate or similar. Then you could get rid of the storm door on the house all together.

    My You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA

    I don't do a fast job. I don't do a slow job. I do a half fast job.

    #712305

    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Remove the decking and dig a grade beam footing along each side.. Insulate and pour a slab about 8 t0 10 inches above the existing deck so that you will have one step between the house and slab and one step to grade off of the slab. 2 risers each. Then add walls under the roof on each side and a door to the front and back, possibly a couple windows. It will give you a weather protected passage from the house to the garage and a true breezeway.

    This is what I was thinking when I asked the grade question. Maybe tile the slab and step to make it all look nice.

    Dirty

    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.

    #712337

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    Remove the decking and dig a grade beam footing along each side.. Insulate and pour a slab about 8 t0 10 inches above the existing deck so that you will have one step between the house and slab and one step to grade off of the slab. 2 risers each. Then add walls under the roof on each side and a door to the front and back, possibly a couple windows. It will give you a weather protected passage from the house to the garage and a true breezeway.

    This is what I was thinking when I asked the grade question. Maybe tile the slab and step to make it all look nice.

    That’s a good thought. I guess I am hesitant to do that for a couple reasons:

    95% of the time my family heads out the door right into the driveway or the back yard. I’m really the only one who would care about an inside entrance into the garage, and even then the garage is not insulated.

    My house is a long, narrow ranch, and the breezeway breaks up the facade of the house. I worry that it would look too long and solid from the street. I like the visual breaking of the house from the garage.

    I will ask the boss about what she thinks of the idea though.

    Two questions: if I do end up pouring a slab, do I need to worry about the ground underneath freezing? The frost line is 48 inches where I am (MA). And how would you deal with the garage door being at the present height of the decking?

    #712350

    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Pro
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    Remove the decking and dig a grade beam footing along each side.. Insulate and pour a slab about 8 t0 10 inches above the existing deck so that you will have one step between the house and slab and one step to grade off of the slab. 2 risers each. Then add walls under the roof on each side and a door to the front and back, possibly a couple windows. It will give you a weather protected passage from the house to the garage and a true breezeway.

    This is what I was thinking when I asked the grade question. Maybe tile the slab and step to make it all look nice.

    That’s a good thought. I guess I am hesitant to do that for a couple reasons:

    95% of the time my family heads out the door right into the driveway or the back yard. I’m really the only one who would care about an inside entrance into the garage, and even then the garage is not insulated.

    My house is a long, narrow ranch, and the breezeway breaks up the facade of the house. I worry that it would look too long and solid from the street. I like the visual breaking of the house from the garage.

    I will ask the boss about what she thinks of the idea though.

    Two questions: if I do end up pouring a slab, do I need to worry about the ground underneath freezing? The frost line is 48 inches where I am (MA). And how would you deal with the garage door being at the present height of the decking?

    with the garage door at the present decking height, I guess that would or should be your slab height.

    As far as the ground freezing below, I would place 2″ rigid insulation on the inside of the stem walls and under the concrete.

    With the Breezeway set back some from the front of the house, I think that would break things up enough if you enclosed it. The roof line being lower than the house helps to break it up also.

    Having that area enclosed would give you a nice area out of the weather to drop coats and shoes out of the house. My guess is that you enter into a room with no real back entry there and having that would add nicely to the home.

    #712362

    Doobie
    Moderator

    With the Breezeway set back some from the front of the house, I think that would break things up enough if you enclosed it. The roof line being lower than the house helps to break it up also.

    Having that area enclosed would give you a nice area out of the weather to drop coats and shoes out of the house. My guess is that you enter into a room with no real back entry there and having that would add nicely to the home.

    This what I would be inclined to do and gain as well if this were my situaton.

    The real mess-up is that the garage should have been a few more feet away from the house to begin with so as to have initially allowed a proper landing and steps down from the house’s side entrance.

    How feasible is it to have the garage door raised with a step down once in the garage? If this is possible, this could solve a lot of issues by having the whole base you may pour be high enough to deal with snow and water egress issues for walling off the breezeway. Would make the step down from the house one less step and stick out less also into that area. Maybe some straight on pics of the garage door from inside and outside the garage might help.

    #712368

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    The real mess-up is that the garage should have been a few more feet away from the house to begin with so as to have initially allowed a proper landing and steps down from the house’s side entrance.

    How feasible is it to have the garage door raised with a step down once in the garage? If this is possible, this could solve a lot of issues by having the whole base you may pour be high enough to deal with snow and water egress issues for walling off the breezeway. Would make the step down from the house one less step and stick out less also into that area. Maybe some straight on pics of the garage door from inside and outside the garage might help.

    Agree completely. This is certainly not the only thing about this house that is messed up, but I am living with it haha. I think they needed the garage to be where it is because of the setback from the next property over. If I could have it to do over, I’d definitely apply for an easement which would have been fine and solved the problem.

    As for the slab idea, I think I am going to shy away from it. I don’t see how to move the door for the garage up anymore (see pics). Now here is my current thought:

    Flip the swing of the storm/screen door, so that it opens facing the driveway. Then, make a landing and steps that go down towards the driveway instead of towards the garage. I cannot flip the swing of the actual door due to the way I walk into the house. So, big question: Is it okay/common for the hinge direction of the storm door and the actual exterior door to be on different sides of the jamb? This allows me to put a railing towards the back and side of the landing and opens towards the front of the house. This is the direction of travel 95% of the time, as mentioned before. Thanks all for the input and thoughts.

    #712375

    Doobie
    Moderator

    I don’t see how to move the door for the garage up anymore (see pics).

    Get rid of the 2 x 6 header and replace it with an iron lintel. Looks like you could raise it at least 6 or more inches replacing with an L shaped lintel accross the span. I did something similar myself in my own home to accomodate a full size door I wanted where there was none before.

    Lucky for you I shamefully still haven’t trimmed this job from years ago and have some pics I took just now of this which you can kinda see what I mean. There was no room for the doubled 2×6 header, so I had to do this.

    I think you simply don’t want to do concrete work and/or enclose the breezeway also. And that’s fine, that’s your preference. But even if you just replace the current decaying deck with whatever and leave the breezeway open, raising it overall and also raising the door to the garage I think allows for a better solution for the steps coming out of the house. Right now, with the deck at that level, anything you do is gonna be ‘tight’ in some respect of normal clearances and heights.

    Whatever you do also, is there decent slope away on both sides of that area? If water is pooling there, that’s also a problem that needs to be tended to. Replacing the rotted deck with a new one, concrete, or even paver blocks is just gonna be a problem anyways if water is hanging around there which wouldn’t surprise me if it was as the backfilling between the house and that garage is likely one of the most susceptible places around your house where the ground has since settled to no longer drain properly if really good care wasn’t taken to pack down the backfill there.

    Insofar as flipping the screen door, I think that’s acceptable? Not sure, never had to do that before. I’m just a HO/DIYer Bailey. So I can’t help you on that one. Myself, I dislike screen doors intently and would lose it myself. We run the A/C all summer in our house anyways.

    #712383

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    Thanks Kevin for that info. Much appreciated. And thanks for posting those pictures. Good to see how you solved that issue.

    I agree that it’s an imperfect solution. To address a couple of questions that you brought up:

    I don’t mind doing concrete work at all, but my wife has decided that she’d rather leave the space open to the exterior, which is a decision that makes sense for us on several levels.

    The current decking only has one part of one board that has degraded. That was the impetus for this project, but the rot isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that there is no landing for that door, and the two steps there now are too steep.

    There is no drainage issue fortunately. The driveway blacktop runs right up to the front of the decking and slopes downward from there. The downspout for the breezeway directs water down the driveway very effectively or back towards the back yard. I haven’t ever seen standing water anywhere near there. The one bit of luck I’ve had with this in fact haha. If after opening up the decking I can see signs of rot from the joists below, I plan on digging down even further to allow for several inches of gravel, but honestly I don’t foresee that being an issue here. The decking is still very solid save for one board.

    Anyway, I really appreciate you and everyone else taking the time to thoughtfully answer my questions.

    I’m still thinking that the best option for me is to put a landing followed by forward facing steps, but this would involve flipping the swing of the storm door (which we still need). Thanks all!

    #712386

    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    The current decking only has one part of one board that has degraded.

    That deck is below grade and if one part one a board is rotted the rest will fallow soon. If you patch it I think you’ll be patching it more in the future.
    If you’d like to keep the open look what about pavers?

    Dirty

    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.

    #712435

    MrFid
    Pro
    Sudbury, MA

    The current decking only has one part of one board that has degraded.

    That deck is below grade and if one part one a board is rotted the rest will fallow soon. If you patch it I think you’ll be patching it more in the future.
    If you’d like to keep the open look what about pavers?

    Now there’s a thought. I could definitely see that working. Thanks for suggesting that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner haha. If I do that with a landing at the top of the steps, do I just use footings to anchor the landing and stairs?

    Also hoping to hear from someone else who can tell me whether storm and exterior doors hinging on opposite sides of the jamb is okay or not.

    As always thank you all so much.

    #712463

    Doobie
    Moderator

    Anyway, I really appreciate you and everyone else taking the time to thoughtfully answer my questions.

    No prob. Good luck with it!

    #712486

    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Pro
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    The current decking only has one part of one board that has degraded.

    That deck is below grade and if one part one a board is rotted the rest will fallow soon. If you patch it I think you’ll be patching it more in the future.
    If you’d like to keep the open look what about pavers?

    Now there’s a thought. I could definitely see that working. Thanks for suggesting that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner haha. If I do that with a landing at the top of the steps, do I just use footings to anchor the landing and stairs?

    Also hoping to hear from someone else who can tell me whether storm and exterior doors hinging on opposite sides of the jamb is okay or not.

    As always thank you all so much.

    You can build the steps and landing out of landscape block and pavers. Just use the same base underneath them.

    #712493

    Sprokitz
    Pro
    Eastern shore of, Pa

    Also hoping to hear from someone else who can tell me whether storm and exterior doors hinging on opposite sides of the jamb is okay or not.

    You “can” do it, BUT, if you think about it you’ll see how awkward it will be. You’d have to practically fully open the storm door to get to the entry door knob…. if you happen to be carrying anything like a bag of groceries you’ll have to switch hands just to open the entry door.

    #712496

    Boschmanbrian
    Pro
    Montreal , QC, Canada

    The current decking only has one part of one board that has degraded.

    That deck is below grade and if one part one a board is rotted the rest will fallow soon. If you patch it I think you’ll be patching it more in the future.
    If you’d like to keep the open look what about pavers?

    Now there’s a thought. I could definitely see that working. Thanks for suggesting that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner haha. If I do that with a landing at the top of the steps, do I just use footings to anchor the landing and stairs?

    Also hoping to hear from someone else who can tell me whether storm and exterior doors hinging on opposite sides of the jamb is okay or not.

    As always thank you all so much.

    You can build the steps and landing out of landscape block and pavers. Just use the same base underneath them.

    That’s what I was going to suggest also ,
    You can even buy precast steps ,
    Paver blocks for the walkway and precast steps , add a railing and you will be good for years after. Just have to figure out what to do with the doors.

    #712503

    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Now there’s a thought. I could definitely see that working. Thanks for suggesting that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner haha.

    The good thing with the pavers they won’t rot. I can’t talk about the process because I don’t live in the cold where the ground freezes.

    Dirty

    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.

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