Low-budget screened-in project delights Woodstock couple

Adding a screened porch to a home can be costly, but homeowners can save significant money by making it a DIY project.

Estimates for building a screened porch from scratch can run $20,000-$40,000 (for a 16-by-16-foot space), according to a blog post by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. That doesn’t include furniture or decor.

However, Orlando and Bertha Llerandi, a retired couple in Woodstock, built their own screened porch in 2015 with the help of a neighbor for a much lower budget.

How it happened

After retiring and moving to Atlanta from New York about 10 years ago, the Llerandis found it difficult to enjoy their back porch, especially during the summer months. The porch consisted of a pergola, with no screen or protection from the heat and mosquitos that lurked around their home.

Hoping to transform their outside space into a screened porch, Orlando sought three different contractors’ opinions.. One suggested taking down the existing pergola and starting from scratch.

The contractors each gave estimates of $17,000, $20,000 and $24,000, which was more than he was willing to spend.

Their neighbor Jerry Smith, a retired optometrist with a passion for carpentry work who has done a few projects around the neighborhood, suggested that he and Orlando screen the porch themselves. He found a way to build it without taking down the existing pergola by covering the space with a roof and vinyl siding, Orlando said.

The Llerandis didn’t want the porch to have a country farmhouse look, so they installed a regular glass-paned exterior door instead of a screened door to the outside. They did want a space with room for them to drink coffee and eat breakfast outside, without the bothersome mosquitos and summer heat.

What they used

Using the white vinyl already on the exterior made the porch look like a continuation of their home. They built onto the existing structure of their pergola to create the 18-by-20-foot screened porch. They kept the red Mexican tiles that they had installed a couple of years before the porch project.

“It’s more like a living room,” said Orlando.

The couple decorated the new porch and its white walls with a sectional, paintings by Orlando and needlepoint pieces by Bertha. Neighbor Beverly Smith, who is Jerry’s wife, also helped with measuring and other details in the project. “It was kind of a friend-family affair,” said Orlando.

The porch project transformed the back part of the home, which can be accessed via sliding glass doors from the living room to the screened-in space.

“I was proud that it came out beautiful,” Orlando said.

The cost

About $4,000

How long it took

Four weeks. “The feeling of satisfaction, time well used and pride after the project is finished is unbelievable,” Orlando said.

The tip

Don’t start without first creating a design plan, even if it is simple, Orlando said. “You have to start from there. Then be willing to put quite a few hours of work or hard labor,” he said. If you’re not capable of doing the entire project alone, find someone who can help with the labor and reduce the price at the same time.