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mikeinMemphis 12-22-2013 11:05 AM

Converting covered patio into a sunroom
Hi there,

We just bought a new house (closing near the end of January and moving in there early-mid Feb) and planning what we need to do and what we can do. One thing we are considering is to convert the covered patio in the back to a closed sunroom (not sure if that is the right name for what we are thinking).

Here is a little background: I have two little kids and we need to make a playroom for them. They will have a playroom on the second floor but we also want somewhere on the first floor where we can safely leave them for a bit while we finish chores. The first floor has a fairly open floor plan where we can't really put baby gates to block the kitchen area. So now we are considering converting the patio into a closed area with carpet or tile.

The patio has a cement floor and a roof supported on 4 wooden pillars (there is nothing on top). There is already electrical connectivity (a fan and two lights). I am thinking of putting a wall of windows on three side to close this area. Will probably need to make a foot or so of wall around to place the windows.

The questions are:
What would this involve? I am trying to better assess all the things that need to be considered and if this is something I can do myself?


GBrackins 12-22-2013 02:40 PM

I'd recommend talking with your building official to start with. They would be able to let you know the code requirements you'd have to comply with.

There is no reason you should not be able to perform this yourself, maybe with a little help online and from friends on-site.

you will probably need an electrician to install electrical outlets. again building official can direct you on this.

typically if you have less than 18" from the bottom of the window to the floor your glazing has to be safety glazing. Don't want kids breaking the glass. Again the building official can give you your code requirements for this.

post back with any questions.

good luck!

joecaption 12-22-2013 02:49 PM

Posting a picture with be a big help.
One big issue that often comes up when doing this is water getting in under the walls and door opening.
No footings under the walls may be another red flag.

oh'mike 12-22-2013 02:50 PM

Gary has offered good advice----that space can add a lot to your enjoyment of the home---post up a picture of the structure ---

mikeinMemphis 12-22-2013 04:06 PM

Thanks guys! I will find out the details of the building code. The roof and one wall already have electrical connections so I was thinking that I wouldn't need to do any electrical stuff.

Here are a few pictures.


mikeinMemphis 12-22-2013 04:14 PM

OK, another try for the pictures:

joecaption 12-22-2013 04:50 PM

As I suggested the slab is right at grade so water getting in is going to the a big issue.
Going to need at least one row of block before the walls are built.
Any sheathing or siding needs to be at least 6" above grade.

Msradell 12-22-2013 09:54 PM

The building codes in your area are probably going to require that you put electrical outlets on the other 3 walls to conform with the NEC if you enclose them completely. Are you planning on adding some source for heat and air-conditioning in this area? This could also cause problems with condensation on the slab if there is not a vapor barrier and installation installed underneath it, you would also want to check the ceiling area for sufficient insulation.

Live_Oak 12-22-2013 10:11 PM

To be actual living space, you will basically need to tear it off and start over with a higher pitch to the roof so you can get enough insulation in it to pass code and get it high up enough off of the ground.

What you could probably do without going to a lot of trouble would be to screen it in and then do some storm windows that you put up in winter to keep the cold out. It won't be able to be heated (or cooled in summer, which will be much worse) to any great degree like that, but it won't be as cold as the outdoors. If it's on the south or west side of the house, it will be impossibly hot to use in the summer anyway pretty much no matter what you do short of a complete demolition and remake.

Gary in WA 12-22-2013 11:58 PM

Also require a vapor barrier poly under the slab, as well as thickened perimeter footing to support the wall/glazing per codes. Basically start over...


mikeinMemphis 12-23-2013 10:35 AM

My initial thoughts were that I would just create a perimeter wall of about 2 foot and put some window frames (and some light weight blinds) - keeping the rood as it is. The patio is facing south but I was thinking of keeping the windows open in the summer and closed during the winter and not worry about insulation. I wasn't sure about the floor.

But it is becoming clear that I will likely need to do the roof again - and that is a discouragement. As soon as I start raising the base/slab the ceiling may not be high enough. This is a lot more work and will likely cost me a lot more than I was thinking.

To recap all the suggestions (in no particular order), I need to do the following:
1. Need a layer of blocks for footing before perimeter walls, also need vapor barrier.
2. Need to find the building code in the area and if need electrical outlets in all the walls
3. Higher pitch roof with insulation

If you guys can point me to any other reference or resource to learn more about this before committing to this project, that would be great.

Thanks again.

GBrackins 12-23-2013 10:49 AM


Originally Posted by mikeinMemphis (Post 1281926)

If you guys can point me to any other reference or resource to learn more about this before committing to this project, that would be great.

building official to discuss project. they can advise you about what you'll be required to do to meet local codes.

once you have this information you'll know in what direction to proceed.

Nailbags 12-23-2013 10:49 AM

A lot of great advice has been given. I know it is not what you wanted to hear. but I know growing up as a kid my play room was my bed room. that might be the best and cheapest thing to do.

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