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How to Add a Sunroom Addition to Your HomeBy: Danny Lipford
Adding a sunroom to your home is a great way to bring the outside in. But due to the number of windows involved, there are some special challenges in sunroom construction.
Watch this video to see how a sunroom addition is built, including:
- Pouring a concrete slab foundation.
- Scoring and acid staining a concrete slab floor.
- Framing and reinforcing the walls.
- Tying the roof into the main house.
- Installing the windows and doors.
- Handling the added heating and cooling load.
- Matching the brick for the addition to the house.
- Installing deadbolt locks on the sunroom addition.
Read episode article to find out more.
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Danny Lipford: This week we’re building a great new sunroom addition for a home that has a fabulous view but no place to enjoy it from. Hey, this isn’t a big addition, but it will make a big change to this home.
Well, obviously I’ve been doing a lot more remodeling than practicing my golf game, but you know a lot of homeowners find living on a golf course very desirable, not because they are trying to improve their golf skills but because the wonderful view you get. You know it’s like having a nicely landscaped yard that someone else has to maintain.
Well, homeowners Jan and Jim Cooper, that live in this house, have decided that they want to enhance the experience of living on a golf course and the view by building a sunroom and a patio.
Well, as you can see the guys have gotten a great start on all the foundation work that’s needed for the new patio and the new sunroom. Hey, this place didn’t really look that bad before we got started. It had a nice little concrete slab and part of it covered by the roof and it allowed the homeowners to enjoy this view when the weather was good but when the sunroom’s complete they’ll be able to enjoy it all year long.
Now, the first thing we did is we took the bricks down from the back of the house and built all the form boards, and had to do a little trenching here and there to ensure that we have the proper thickness we need for the foundation. And then, just a short while ago, our termite company was out to pre-treat all of the soil below both the patio and the sunroom. Then the vapor barrier went down over it.
The idea here is of course to create a nice protective barrier so that the wood destroying termites won’t get into all the wood we’ll be using to build the sunroom. Now, we always like to go ahead and have them pre-treat even an outdoor slab like this because the way this is being built with the foundation being done in such a way that it can be used as an addition later on if the homeowners decide to enlarge their sunroom.
Now, just a little bit more work here to tie all of our steel rebar together and we’ll be ready for the concrete truck. Once it arrives the first order of business is getting it as close to the forms as possible without damaging the existing driveway. By parking the truck right at the forms we can avoid the added expense of pumping the concrete or all the labor it would take to move it with wheelbarrows.
As it pours out of the shoot, Lorenzo and his helper just have to spread the concrete out. Now, this much concrete can sometimes bend the forms so they have to keep a real close eye on the layout strings and occasionally reinforce the forms.
The patio will eventually get a brick border, so the forms have a step arrangement that creates a recess for the bricks. The concrete itself will be the finished floor in this sunroom, so as soon as it’s dry, we mark off and begin cutting score lines in the grid pattern that’ll create the illusion of a tile floor. This job is much easier right now because this concrete will only get harder with every passing day.
Concrete continues curing for quite sometime, and the surface of it can be very easy to ding and scar up, so you want to be real careful when we’re doing a project like this that we don’t mess up our nice patio slab.
But we want to be particularly careful that we don’t mess up all the work we did on scoring the slab that’ll serve as the finished floor in our sunroom, so we put down half-inch plywood to make sure that we don’t drop a hammer or drop a crowbar which is inevitable, and that can definitely mess up the surface of the concrete.
Now, another thing you have to be careful with when you’re framing a sunroom. It’s a little bit different than a regular addition, because you have so many windows and so many doors, you can have some very weak wall spaces if you’re not careful.
To protect against that we’re using 2×6 studs instead of 2×4’s. That will add to the strength, but also it will add to the space we have to put insulation in what few wall cavities we have. Another thing we’re doing to make sure this sunroom is good and strong is the half-inch plywood we’re using as the sheathing on the outside.
Now, we’ll put a house wrap over this once we get the framing completed before the windows go in and this will really provide a lot of strength, particularly in these corners. Well, we took it a step further with this down here.
Look at this angle brace that has a bolt that goes down into the concrete when it was wet. Now, that that’s dry this really provides a lot of strength for this corner, which can be a very weak point on any addition so that’s definitely in real good shape.
Now, the next thing, and one of the biggest mistakes that most people make when they’re building an addition, is not tying the roof in properly. It really takes a lot of time to do it the right way and that’s exactly what the guys are involved with now. Because part of this space is already under the roof, the ceiling for the addition will have to line up with what’s there now. Then the guys can start creating a new roof system above that.
While we’re working out a functional but attractive transition for this roof, let’s check in with Joe for a Simple Solution that’s ideal for remodeling.
Joe Truini: Remodeling projects typically start with some sort of demolition work and that often means removing drywall from walls and ceilings, and a great tool for that is a reciprocating saw. The problem is the long blade of the reciprocating saw will not only cut through the drywall but also the wood framing, and possibly any electrical wiring or pipes that are inside the wall so to prevent that from happening what we’re going to do is cut the blade down.
The first thing you want to do for safety sake is to remove the battery from the tool or unplug it from the wall, then pull the blade out to it’s longest position. Then use the same material that’s on the wall, in this case half-inch drywall to mark the blade and now we’re just going to use some snips to cut the blade down to size.
This is a little hard to cut but with a good sharp pair of snips you should be able to work your way through that. So now all you have to do is take the cut off blade, put it in the tool, power it up and make your cut. I like cutting them into two or three foot square pieces then you just pop them off the wall and dispose of them.
Danny Lipford: Well as you can see, we finished up all of the roof structure on our new sunroom addition. We have our roofing underlayment in place so that it’s nice and dry and the guys are just now finishing up all of the windows and doors that are being installed. This sunroom will be a great addition to this house.
But to really make it tie in architecturally to the existing house it’s very important that the roof matches all of the overhang size and the pitch on the existing roof and this one does exactly that. Once we get the new shingles on, other than a little bit of a difference in the fading of the old versus the new, it won’t take long before it all blends in real nice. But Joe our foreman is in the process of working out the last few roofing details.
All right, Joe, you’ve got a pretty steep one here.
Joe Denson: This one’s about 9 on 12, it’s a little steeper than we’re used to but at least it’s not a big roof.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s true. And I can see how it blends in real well with the existing roof, in terms of the pitch, as well as the overhang, all of the valleys tying together, but I’ve noticed you’ve been kind of studying this area quite a bit this morning.
Joe Denson: We have a potential problem spot here. We’re going to get a lot of volume of water coming off the main roof and the valley behind me. It’s all going to channel right down into this area right here.
Danny Lipford: OK. What are you thinking about there, maybe some way of diverting that water, or banking that water away from the actual old wall there?
Joe Denson: We’re going to put in a small roof section, a cricket, right on the corner, right where our new valley intersects the brick and that will give us the opportunity to shoot the water past the corner of the house and on into the yard.
Danny Lipford: OK. You know a cricket is used in a lot of different ways, this is the perfect way of kind of pulling that water away from the problem area where it may leak. You also see them very commonly behind chimneys to divert that water for the same reason. Now, what size cricket and roof section you thinking about building there?
Joe Denson: Well, we’ve got our roofer coming by this afternoon and we’re going to defer to his expert opinion on how far he wants us to come up with it.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s a good idea, because ultimately he has to make sure it doesn’t leak anyway, huh?
Joe Denson: Yes, he does.
Danny Lipford: Well, what else do you have to do around here? I know that you guys are still trying to dry it in with the windows and doors but what are some of the other things you’re going to be tackling?
Joe Denson: Well, we need to get the soffits on, we need to get the fascia boards on, so once we do get the roofer in, he can just go right around it.
Danny Lipford: The soffit of a house is the underside of the overhang and the fascia is the outer band that encloses it, even though most of this is purely cosmetic it does take time to put it together and it’s particularly important in an addition like this to match them both to the ones on the rest of the house. That includes details like using the same style of soffit vents that we used on the original house so that when it’s all done, no one will be the wiser.
When the roofer arrives, the man in charge, Doug, goes right to work on our area of concern and quickly figures out that the cricket may hurt more than it really helps. So he begins covering the whole valley with an extra layer of thick self-adhesive underlayment, which extends up the brick wall behind the flashing.
Meanwhile, the rest of his crew begins banging down the shingles around the rest of the addition, as Doug carefully pieces together the copper flashing that’ll keep the water out of this house. Now even though this isn’t a large job for Doug’s company it is taking a lot of his time because he wants to sweat every detail to make sure this thing doesn’t leak.
Boy, our shingle tie in worked just perfect and that’s great considering that the existing shingles were about 15 years old and all those years they’ve been out here exposed to the weather and once this gets a little bit of weather on it, it should match even better.
Now, over the last few days our drywall has been installed and our finisher has been busy putting the finishing touches on it and he’s actually doing just a little bit more work now so that we’re all ready for our trim carpenters tomorrow. But our big challenge right now is trying to match the existing bricks with the new bricks that we have ordered.
Now, when we started doing the demolition, we took a few of the old bricks and took them down to the brickyard and kind of walked around to see just how well we’re able to match because it’s really been a challenge over the last few years matching bricks on older homes because a lot of bricks just get discontinued. With this home being somewhat new it’s fairly easy to find a brick that matches pretty darn close.
We’ll also be paying a lot of attention to the mortar and making sure the brick mason uses a mortar that will blend in well with this existing material. Now we have it all ready to go, our brick ties are all on so that it will hold the bricks to the wall, and all of the windows and doors are in place, but one of the things that we are going to do to really match the house with the bricks coming out onto the patio a bit is the form boards that we mentioned earlier.
And the way the forms were done here with a little offset will allow our brick mason to create a little, what they call a roll lock border, around the perimeter of the patio. And of course once the mortar is in there it will all be nice and flush. That will provide a nice little accent that will tie it all together.
But, right now our main interest is getting the trim work on the inside done, so that we can paint it and be a little closer to the finish line. Before that goes up, though, the guys fill in any gaps around the windows and doors with caulk or foam backer rod to ensure that the new room is air tight from the outside.
Then window casings are put together on the floor first so that they can be aligned with the window themselves not just the rough frame opening. Because there’s so many windows in a sunroom like this, every detail about how they’re trimmed is very important.
So while these guys take care of all of those details why don’t you check out this week’s Best New Product.
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Danny Lipford: This week we’re adding a sunroom to this home so the owners can better enjoy the view of the nearby golf course. We have it dried in with windows, doors, and a roof so right now Allen is checking on the progress inside the addition.
Allen Lyle: Anytime you’re adding living space to your home, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or HVAC needs have to be considered. Can you tie into your existing system and will that be sufficient? Do you need to upgrade what you have or can you just add on to it? Could you put in a window unit?
Well, let me answer that one. In this particular case not a lot of square footage, yes you could put in a window unit but to partially obstruct your view really defeats the whole purpose of the sunroom. But our HVAC contractor is here and he’s got a pretty good option for us. David, tell me what we’re looking at here.
David Brunson: Well Allen, we got a Mitsubishi mini split ductless.
Allen Lyle: Now, how is this going to be operated here in the sunroom?
David Brunson: Well, basically it’s going to mount on the wall up high. It is still a split system, so we’ll have an outdoor unit, and it’s controlled with a remote control or you can mount the thermostat on the wall.
Allen Lyle: Well now, given all the options that are available, let’s say I’m adding something other than this sunroom, a master bedroom suite. What are the questions that we need to ask you in order to consider HVAC needs?
David Brunson: Well, first of all we need to take a look at the existing HVAC system to make sure of what size it is, sometimes we can accommodate the extra load. A lot of times we either have to add a system, or in this case we had to add this mini split system cause we didn’t have access to the existing system because of where this room was added on.
Allen Lyle: Well, I’m anxious to see this in place and operating to find out just how well it does. So what’s the next step for you here?
David Brunson: Well, we’re going to get the bracket mounted to the wall. And then we’re going to hang the evaporator section and get everything tied in – the plumbing, drain lines, refrigerate lines – and then we’re going to work our way outside and get the outdoor unit set.
Danny Lipford: Speaking of the outside, that’s where the next big change is happening with the addition of the bricks on the outside of the sunroom. We told you earlier that we had matched the bricks to the house, but it’s also important to match the color of the mortar and the style of the mortar joints. That’s where you have to rely on the experience and skill of the brick mason.
This sunroom is almost complete and our brick mason’s finished all of their work just a few days ago and once we get a little more weathering on our mortar, this will match the existing mortar perfectly.
Now, we’re taking care of all these little loose ends that can drive you crazy right at the end of a project and we’re expecting our electricians to drop by soon to install our carriage lights on either side of our doors, and Shelby and Joe are in the process of completing a lot of the loose ends including the installation of the locks on the new doors.
You know what happens a lot is when you build an addition like this you have two additional doors, that means two additional locks and in the past you’ve had to re-key those locks to your existing key by hiring a locksmith. Well, you don’t have to do that anymore.
This is a lock that we found at the International Builders’ Show several weeks ago, and this is the perfect application for it. This is part of the Smart Series from Kwikset. And what you can do is take your existing key, insert it in the lock. And then use a small tool that you insert in the tumbler, and it will re-key this lock to your existing locks. That’s pretty cool and it will save you a lot of money on your locksmith.
Now, what we’re focusing on now is all the loose ends and putting the finish on our concrete floor. In this case the stain is actually an acid that reacts with the chemistry of the concrete to create a cool new look. It looks like water going on but eventually the texture and color appear. Then it’s ready to have a sealer applied so that’ll continue looking that way. While this dries check out an Ask Danny question.
Rick: Danny, I just pulled up my carpet and noticed there are some cracks in the slab. I’m wondering if I’ve got a problem to worry about?
Danny Lipford: It really depends on the width of the crack. In most cases I’ve seen you shouldn’t worry at all because most of the cracks in concrete slabs are just expansion cracks. Now these are typically cracks that are less than eighth of an inch wide and the surfaces on either side of the crack are still on the same level plane.
However, if you see a crack that’s a little wider – maybe a quarter inch wide or wider – and one side of the crack is a little higher than the other, you may have a settling problem. Now for the small expansion crack if it’s under carpet, don’t worry about it, but for exposed surfaces like a driveway or garage you can use a concrete repair caulk to fill up that crack.
Now for other cracks, keep an eye on them because if the gap continues to widen or one side drops down more than the other, call in a structural engineer for some professional advice.
It does look real good out here Jan. This is Jan Cooper the homeowner who really had the vision for this whole room to get everything started. You wanted to capture the view of the golf course? I think we did that.
Jan Cooper: Oh, absolutely. It’s just been breathtaking. It’s amazing my husband came out and took chairs from different sections in the room just to see the different views to pick out his perfect spot where his chair will be.
Danny Lipford: Now, that’s a good way to get motivated and I’m glad that we were able to find the type of brick to match everything because that’s so important when you’re building an addition like this to make it blend in.
Jan Cooper: Yes, yes.
Danny Lipford: But I know you had a small patio here. Didn’t want to do away with that, so you got a bigger patio now.
Jan Cooper: Yes, we’ve really enjoyed this last weekend, had a lot of people over so we’ve just enjoyed the extra space out there but also had this space in here to enjoy.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s perfect. Well you’ve certainly helped put all of this together with your ideas and good thought and everything. And we have a lot more information about this project and others on our website at dannylipford.com.
Hey, thanks for being with us, we’ll see you next week.
These homeowners have one of the scariest utility bills in the country. Next week we’ll remedy that.
If you would like to purchase a DVD copy of this week’s show, visit our website at dannylipford.com, or call us at 1-800-946-4420.