Convert screened porch to bedroom?

My brother in law has developed a neuromuscular disease, either Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. or (if we’re lucky) Primary Lateral Sclerosis. Either way, he’s going to be in a wheel-chair. Their home is not accessible, and the layout doesn’t lend it’s self to conversion. The house does have a screened in porch off the kitchen. It was added later, and is not over the basement. Instead, it’s supported on cinder blocks at eight foot centers. They wish to convert it to a master bedroom suite with accessible bath and entrance to the house.

My immediate reaction is that you should never have an occupied room over an open-sided crawl space. At a very minimum, a wall should be built to enclose the space. And, if you’re going to do that, why not make the wall out of cement blocks? This is in Kansas City, and frozen pipes are a distinct possibility.

Anyone successfully converted a screened porch into a bedroom? What advice can you give? What “gotchas” to look out for?

I would think that you’re correct - the underpart of the porch will have to be closed in properly. My parents have a sun room that’s over a porch and even with insulation and heating they can’t use it in the winter - it’s just too darn cold.

I don’t have any construction advice, except to say I’ve lived in them, and you should make certain there’s lots of insulation under the floor (as well as the sides and ceiling). Once I lived in one where the floor wasn’t insulated and it was awful in the winter. I lived in another one that was well insulated and it was very snug and cozy.

Step one is to check local and state regulations. Chat with your local building inspector, the licenses & inspection department, or whatever entity addresses such things where you live.

Then, speak with a few contractors. Different people approach the same project with a variety of ideas in mind. Once your exact needs and budget are established, they can work with you to focus on your options.

Good luck.

A conversion of a screened porch has lots of problems. Joists not made for the load. Improper foundations. The floors often slant outward. The walls that do exist are likely too thin. The under area will need lots of insulation, and will it heat and cool properly. All can be remedied, but it might cost little more to add on a new addition.

I think you should talk to a place that deals with home conversions professionally all the time, and see what they recommend, before spending a single dime.

Being in California my advise might not be of use. I have made that conversion. It was a simple enough affair closing in the open side. I had expanding foam insulation blown in the joists first. IMO, the current live load rating should not be a problem.

I guess it boils down to how big your budget is.

My brother and I will do the carpentry, he’ll do the plumbing (he’s a master plumber) and I’ll do the electric. My other brother-in-law will do the tile work. Thanks for the replies!

My advice? Tear it down and just redo it. It’ll be a lot less pain than trying to convert something that was never intended to be a living space. I slept on a closed in porch like you’re talking about for years when I was a teenager. Hot as hell in the summer, colder than all get out in the winter.

None of your walls are going to be built in such a way as to have insulation in them. And you won’t really be able to add it very easily without major modifications. Same with the floors and the ceiling. Depending on how it’s built and attached to the house it may be easier for you to just take it down and build it again correctly. This will also make items such as HVAC/Plumbing/electrical work a heck of a lot easier.

Good Luck!

It’s a screened porch. The only two existing “walls” are screen. We’re going to be building any walls, and those will definitely have insulation in them. Given when the house was built, these will probably be the only exterior walls with insulation. We’ll have to insulate between the ceiling and the roof over the porch, and will definitely insulate between the floor joists and put in a vapor barrier below to protect against the crawl space.

We’re looking at the HVAC (my brother the master plumber now sells HVAC) and will either upsize the existing HVAC or install a split ductless heat pump system.

The main problem with your advice is that it would require tearing off a perfectly good piece of existing roof for no reason.

It’s not unusual to temporarily support the roof and remove the porch under it. I don’t care what you do, but that is an alternative.

You can also rip up the floor boards and put in tongue and groove plywood for a much better floor, while exposing the crawl space for working in. I would inspect the floor and joists carefully for any rotting, due to the exterior location of the old floor. You can level and supplement the joists when the floor is removed. Remember that special equipment may need to go in so providing the extra strength in the construction now, can save you heartache and money later.

Best of luck in what you find on this project.