Should we enclose our patio for an additional room?

homestylelisaFebruary 23, 2012

Hello!

I have been browsing the forums in search of the right place to post my question, and I think I have found it here at the "smaller homes" forum!

We are trying to decide what to do with our home. We are a family of 5 - DH and I and 3 kids ages 6, 10, and 13. We are feeling cramped for space as we transition from through the different phases of all three children's lives. We have days where we just feel as if we don't have enough space. Winters make this even more difficult, and when the children have friends over it feels even more cramped and often DH and I will resort to hiding in our BR until the friends leave! DH and I also like to have friends of our own over at times, and we often feel like the kids are constantly underfoot.

We are trying to decide whether we should do some major remodeling or if we should just try to wait out this busy part of our life. We have a covered back patio that we could close in to create another sitting room on the first floor. Currently, we only use that area in the warmer months, of course, and during mosquito season, we don't use it at all. It is attached to the house in a corner, so we'd only have to build two walls. The concrete pad is very thick and we believe it would serve fine as a foundation. Closing it in could give us an additional 12 by 12 room.

I could say a lot more, but will wait for some initial thoughts. I can also supply a rough floor plan to give more of a visual as to why we seem to have space issues. Our home is a two story 1800 sq/ft house. We have a cellar, but it is pretty rough and really only suitable as a work area.

Thank you for reading!

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krayers

We considered the same thing with our deck area. Ultimately, we waited it out & the children are now grown & not all there so often & the grandchildren usually play upstair in a bedroom/playroom. We do spend a lot of time on our deck & were going to have to build a foundation & roof lines were a problem. Am glad we didn't go to the extra expense.

My sister and a good friend both did enclose their areas & have loved having it. The friend never used her deck space & now uses the enclosed room as an area for her grandchildren to go when the family visits. She says it's been wonderful to have. My sister also uses hers seasonally - it's too cold in the winter - it's more of a 3 season sunroom.

I's say if it's in your budget & you don't use the patio anyway go for it! Even when the kids grow up - they come home to visit & bring kids!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:24AM
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lavender_lass

If it turns out that it can be easily converted, I'd definitely do it. If nothing else, think about screening it, to get rid of the mosquitoes. A three season porch is a nice idea, but if you need the space mainly in the winter, then I'd make it into a play room, for the kids...or an escape for you and DH :)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 11:19AM
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pay_it_forward

From your description it sounds like you could use this space in many different ways. I like to factor that in when I am calculating cost. As Lavender Lass said, if this patio can be easily converted (and friendly to your budget), I would also take the plunge!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:31PM
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ellendi

I agree. If you plan on stayng in this house until the kids are grown, then it pays to make it an additional room. I am assuming that you will be heating it.
But, thinking of the summer, do you still have outdoor space and if you don't, will you miss it in the warmer months.
One of the first projects we did in our small home was to finish the basement. That was (and still is) the go to place for watching tv, having friends over and sleep overs.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:35PM
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homestylelisa

Thanks for all of the advice so far. Ellendi - yes, I do think we would miss the covered patio at times in the summer. We do have a covered front porch that we could utilize if we felt the urge, but it would have the private backyard feeling. We've talked about screening in the front porch, then closing in the back patio so we had the best of both worlds. I am going to make an attempt at a floor plan so I can show all of the possible issue that could arise from closing in this patio in question.

As to the cost, we are assuming it would be relatively inexpensive to do since the roof, foundation, and two walls are already there. Yes, we do plan on heating it, most likely with a fireplace of some kind. :)

Thanks for reading, I am excited to have others to bounce this off.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Moccasin

If you already have a roofline on it that does not interfere with the main structure, and the thick slab is not cracked and is sealed securely at the joint with the house, I'm thinking it would be fairly easy to add to the house. It would need a moisture barrier on the cement and then something to stop the cold from rising through the soil.

How cold does it get where you live?
When I had MoccasinLanding with a roofed over carport, I had to enclose two walls with aluminum framing to create a bird room for my parrots. In the wintertime, I put bubble wrap over the screened walls, and it was translucent. I also had the contractor lay the moisture barrier over the slab cement, and put down sheet vinyl. I used a couple of electrical oil-filled space heaters (look like radiators) to keep the birds warm. I even added a skylight for more light in the winter.

Nowadays, you can get storm windows to fill in the two sides, and sometimes they can be removed just leaving screens in the two open walls. And, they make the portable heat-pumps, which can heat and/or cool. If you live in a high humidity area, like we do, you have to put a condensate drain to the outside, but otherwise the unit will dissipate the moisture with its exhaust tube. Those units may run you $600 for a 12 x 12 room, about 8000 BTU size I think, but read about them online.

You can treat the room as a casual space, or jazz it up for a second family room. Once you decide you want to do it, be sure you know if you will need a building permit or whatever, so the city won't make you tear it down. If you need electrical as the only hired trade, will it require upgrading your power supply? That is something you'll have to decide about too.

When we moved into this little 2 bedroom 1 bath house, it was okay, but we really enjoyed it more when we enclosed our 10 x 10 screened porch into a Lexan sunporch, with 3 walls all glass. We needed no roofing because it was existing, but DH levelled and built the new floor and tiled it, and also built the framing for the Lexan panels on 3 sides. Now we both love to eat breakfast there or read or watch the wild birds. Like being outdoors really, but comfortable. That small space uses a 8000 btu small window a/c, but it is really exposed and could use one of the portable heatpumps if I had the space. Air conditioning is our prime concern, not heating.

Glad you stopped in, hope you come back often.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:31AM
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Sophie Wheeler

What's your frost level for your soil? How thick is the slab? What type of roof is on the structure now and how is it tied into the main house? What type of framing is in place now?

A plain slab on grade cannot support bearing walls. You will need a foundation dug to below the frost line, unless you live in a very warm climate with a very shallow foundation requirement. Digging a foundation under an existing slab is harder than just removing everything and starting over, which would also give you the advantage of installing a vapor barrier under the new slab. If this has a lightweight aluminum type roof, that will have to be completely removed, then reframed and flashed to the house and then roofed. Your climate area will dictate the amount of insulation that will be required both in the walls and ceiling. If reusing any of the existing framing and the ceiling is low, you may need to resort to spray foam to get the required R value.

Your best bet is to contact your local codes office and ask about the footing depth, needed R value and any other questions that will impact your planning, as well as the permits needed to do such conversion. It won't be nearly as cheap as you envision. If you can't DIY the project, it would cost you around +/-75K for a contractor to construct it for you depending on your location. Take 10-20K off if the slab can be reused without digging a new footing, depending on site access and footing depth. If you can DIY the whole project labor, you would probably be able to bring it in under 40K.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 10:26AM
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homestylelisa

Hollysprings- I appreciate your input but your numbers sound incredibly high. We actually got a quote from a local patio enclosure company of 19K to enclose the space. Of course, that does not include flooring and furnishings. Your numbers are figuring out to be about $400/square foot.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:26PM
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lavender_lass

Home- Location makes such a difference in construction/remodeling. We're in a much more affordable part of the country, too. Eastern Washington (where we live) is much cheaper than the Seattle area and further down the coast.

I think it also makes a difference on how you plan to use the space, where you live and what codes are required (as Holly pointed out) and how much you can DIY.

It seems like you have a good plan and with 19K (if that covers all the costs, make sure to see a detailed breakdown) you can have the extra space, at a good price :)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 2:11PM
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homestylelisa

Lavender_lass - yes, demographics differences are probably at work here.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 2:16PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

A "patio enclosure" is a lightweight flimsy structure, usually of metal, that isn't going to be suitable for actual heated and cooled living space. It won't be properly wired, nor insulated, nor will it have energy efficient windows, nor HVAC. It's what you do when you want to keep the rain off and the bugs out only. There is a HUGE difference in a "patio enclosure" and a room that you can actually live in.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 7:08PM
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yayagal

We hired a local carpenter to do ours and it came in at six grand and ours included a roof.He did the entire job all by himself and my husband helped him with the windows. We put in wood floors. I have never enjoyed a room as much. I have all windows on two walls and a full view or our lovely yard and woods. I read, rest, visit, eat and paint in that space and each time I go in it I feel relaxed. Yours would be so great as it would multi task as a place for the kids by day and night for you or friends. Get some quotes for a certified carpenter. Angie's list is great for that and then decide.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:30AM
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homestylelisa

Thank you guys, for all the words of encouragement and sound advice!

I think we will give this idea a lot more thought, and definitely get some quotes. Yesterday, DH and I had a bit of a "brainstorming" session and tossed around a whole bunch of "alternate" ideas to sooth our issues - such as putting a hot tub out on the patio, and/or maybe creating a more scenic sitting area in our kitchen by upgrading the window that faces our yard. I know neither of those ideas beat a whole extra room, BUT, I think they would at least tide us over. At times where the adults don't have a place to mingle, we could use the hot tub. And if we created a nice windowed area to sit off the kitchen (room is already there, just doesn't have great windows) then it would feel a lot better for sitting and not like we're trapped with our noses in a corner.

I do agree that getting some quotes would be an excellent start.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:04AM
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ogrose_tx

Hi,
We're getting our 10X18' patio enclosed with glass windows, and the bid we have is around $10,000. This will include 2 walls, a concrete wall going down in the ground of about 12" going around the concrete pad, and 2 doors. Being as we have slight drainage problem after 40 years, they will install decking for the floor over the pad, and includes the roof. I was totally against this idea my husband had, now am really excited! We go through this all the time, I don't like change, but then love it! These guys are remodeling our house and doing a beautiful job, we lucked out.

We live in the Dallas area. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 3:25PM
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Moccasin

OGRose, please show us what it looks like when it is done. I know you will really enjoy the space. Our tiny little side porch used to be screened in, and it was so decrepit, but now it is our most favorite spot to have coffee or read when it is too cool or otherwise uncomfortable to go outside. It is our 10 x 10 sun porch. And my DH did all the work himself. Our roof was already in place, but he beefed up the timbers holding it up, and installed 3 walls of Lexan not windows. It is hurricane proof I do believe. Bulletproof for sure.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:27PM
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marti8a

I can't wait to see it too ogrose. I'm in the Dallas area too, kind of.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:46PM
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ogrose_tx

I promise when it's done I'll (finally) learn how to post photos here!

Our remodelers are such a blessing; the first guys that came out made such a mess of things, it was such chaos it actually was funny, but my poor husband was about having a nervous breakdown over it; he was a master electrician and did extensive remodeling, and is Mr. Picky Picky, but is quite ill and can't do this stuff anymore. What I can't believe is that these guys take their time and aren't in a rush to get the money and run on to the next job. They have offered to come help me this spring on a Saturday garage sale which I promptly took them up on, and told them I'd make them oven fried chicken!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:26AM
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mcgillicuddy

We had a rickety old screened porch that we didn't use on the north side of our house, and we completely demolished it and built an entirely new four-season room (new foundation, HVAC, electricity, wall-to-wall casement windows on three sides) for approximately $30K. And we're in a major metro area with fairly high construction prices.

I'm sure we would never recoup the cost, but the room is my office and "ladies lounge" and it was totally worth it to me. I'm in it every day, and it's bright and cheerful all through the winter.

Depending on where you live and whether the slab foundation is usable, your costs could be a lot lower.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Moccasin

Well, McGillicuddy, that sounds really great. I wish you'd post pictures of your "ladies lounge" which we tend to favor around these parts. Sara Susanka calls it an "away space" where you get away from everybody else.

In my case, DH took a rickety old screened porch and rebuilt it, himself, because the foundation was part of the original house, and so was the roof. Just added a lot of insulation in the attic, and levelled the floor and beefed it up to hold 12 x 12 porcelain unglazed tiles. I wanted a space for my parrots and plants especially in the wintertime, and he wanted a spot to sit and read any time of year, and we ended up with 3 walls of Lexan and 1 wall shared with the house being exterior stucco. It is just 10 x 10 and is probably the most charming room in the house.
The Lexan was the most expensive part of the materials, and it is a real home-made job, but it is sturdy and matches the cottage nature of our house which was built in 1950.

Many people on the Smaller Homes forum enjoy having such personal spaces, so any time you want to share a picture, just have at it.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 1:24PM
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mcgillicuddy

Well, moccasinlanding, since you asked ;-)

It has been a while since I tried to embed a photo, but I'll try. The room is just a tad over 5 feet wide and about 22 feet long. We were constrained by the lot line. I managed to fit in two long desks (one for art, one for business) and a queen-size sofabed (bought the middle part of a sectional, so no arms). We used Marmoleum for the floor (I love it) and I looked high and low for small ceiling fans. We made the desks out of old closet doors and added legs from Ikea. These pics are from before I decorated.

It's a sunny and calm space where I can "get away" when I need to.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Shades_of_idaho

mcgillicuddy Your porch is a Beautiful calm space. You got a whole lot of use for such a narrow space. Great idea to use the center of a sectional. Keeping that idea in mind for our guest room. Says she wishing the ugly futon would die. Hehehehe

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:20PM
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desertsteph

oh, that is just lovely! what a great usable space you have now! it seems very peaceful - great place to curl up with a book - or take a nap. It'd also be a great place to sit and do needlework (not that I do that anymore).

love the fan you put in!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:38AM
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yogastef

Fabulous photos! So impressive! I love sun porches. I think they're so cozy and therapeutic. There's something charming about an enclosed small room that brings nature into the home.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:44PM
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idie2live

Dang! Now I have Porch Envy !

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Shades_of_idaho

AW Loretta I was thinking of you on this porch post. Your porch is lovely too. And your addition. Now I have addition envy. Only I do not even need an addition. LOL

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:48PM
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nancyinmich

I have sunshine envy! I really wish I had a place in my home that is a sunny spot where I could place a comfy chair and fall asleep in warm sunshine on a cold winter day!

We once took a winter vacation to an empty (except for us) B and B. It had a sunroom with three walls of windows. Each morning after breakfast,DH and I and our three dogs would go up to the sunroom with a lot of my jewelry-making supplies. I would turn on the TV and watch old movies and create, while DH and the dogs napped in the sun. It was heavenly!

If we had the money, I would do a sunny room in a minute! Love pics of all of yours!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Shades_of_idaho

OH Nancy this is why I am so pleased with our house. Mornings the sunny spot in at the love seat in the dinning room. Perfect for morning coffee.Afternoons the sunny spot is in living room and guest room. We control the sun with blinds as needed. The cats and I follow the sun around in the winter. In the summer the sun is higher in the sky and is bright in the house but does not shine in as directly. My studio is heavenly in the winter for sun. Eastern facing.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:26PM
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shelayne

Oooh, I LOVE it! That to me, is pure BLISS!

We have been talking about turning part (most) of our deck into a screened porch and eventually a 3-4 season sun room. I will be ecstatic if we just finish off a small section for a mudroom. In the warmer weather, we have one of those metal screened gazebos on our deck that DH screws into the deckboards over indoor/outdoor carpeting. He puts it up in the spring and takes it down in the fall.

*sigh*

More porch pics, please! :D

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:21AM
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lavender_lass

Very nice! :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:20PM
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mcgillicuddy

Thank you, everyone. It's such a modest amount of space, but it really makes a difference to have my own little area. And as a former California girl, I really treasure the light in that room, particularly in winter.

shades_of_idaho -- we did have our old, scary futon in here for a while, but I banished it to the basement after I found a sofa bed that would fit. We tried to get rid of it a few years ago by putting it out on the front sidewalk (usually a surefire method), and no one took it! A free futon! In a college town! And no takers!

desertsteph -- I told myself I would relearn crewel embroidery after the room was finished, but I still haven't gotten around to it. My grandmother taught me many years ago, and I have several half-completed projects. As for the fans in my room, they're made in a little shop about an hour north of me in Illinois. I negotiated a discount by buying two and driving out to the workroom to pick them up. I love their unique look.

yogastef -- You're right, it does bring in nature. Makes it more peaceful.

I sometimes think it was an incredible folly to spend so much on a sliver of a room, but your comments make me feel better about it, and I really do love it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:08PM
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yogastef

It's a very special place. You can't put a price on it...like a beautiful garden. It improves the quality of life.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Shades_of_idaho

LOL mcgillicuddy I am TOTALLY blaming you for my purchase yesterday. We were just board so went looking at sectionals. I was curious to see if just the bed section could be bought. Not sure how you came about yours. Anyway next thing you know I am buying two recliners. NOTHING to do with a sectional. I never even got to look at them. Sheese. Maybe next shopping trip. Not for awhile though.

LOL Funny about the free futon. Here you would probably have to pay some one to take it away.

chris

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Moccasin

McGilli, what kind of accordion top-down/bottom-up white shades are those? I really love those! Perfect window covering where you want to screen the view IN yet be able to look outside yourself. Or break the glare from bright sunshine.

Well, about paying someone to take stuff away--not here. You can set old appliances out at the street, and within hours if not sooner, they are gone gone. Our trash day is this Tuesday, so all the "pickers" will be driving slowly down the streets, scanning trash piles for goodies. But not up in Massachusetts, where we had to pay to get stuff hauled away, since DH does not like to bother with Craigs List or shoppers, and most donations have to be delivered to the charity.

Anyway, McGilli, love what you're doing with the space. My kind of life style.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:21AM
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mcgillicuddy

moccasinlanding -- I'm not sure I'm remembering correctly, but I think I got them from selectblinds.com. They are the least expensive ones you can get with the top down/bottom up option.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 8:47PM
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marti8a

McGillicuddy, I love your porch. I agree it looks like the perfect sunny spot. And I adore those pendants and fan. Where did you get them?

Funny story, but true - Dh had a customer, a commercial painter who always had tons of paint left over from jobs. Because you can't put liquid paint in the trash, and because they didn't want to buy that much paint drying additive, they put all the paint out behind their warehouse with a sign that said "Free". It sat there for two days even though they are in an area where nothing left out is safe. So the next night they put out a sign that said $10 each (they were 5 gallon buckets), with a coffee can to put the money in. Next morning all the paint was gone and the paint can was still empty.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:21PM
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mcgillicuddy

marti8a, that's brilliant! I'm going to put the futon outside with a big sign that says "$50"! I love it.

The pendants in my room are from lightingdirect.com. They were relatively inexpensive -- I think about $40 each. The fans were my big splurge. They're made by Matthews Fan Company in Illinois. My model is the Atlas Diane. I bought two, so I negotiated on the retail price. I also picked them up directly from the manufacturer to save on shipping.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:49PM
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marti8a

Thanks! I'll see if they will fit my space. Mosquitoes have been just awful here, along with crane flies. A friend who lives out in the country uses a house desk top fan mounted over the door from the garage into the house and it keeps insects from congregating at the door and entering the house with them. I was hoping to find a fan to use at my backdoor like that but it will be mounted on the porch ceiling.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 5:38PM
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Moccasin

McGilli, I have FAN ENVY because I was admiring your unique fans. Thanks for telling which models they are, never be able to describe them.

Love your space, which at 5 feet width is similar to our next house addition. We have the 14 x 6 back porch that I want to extend across the back of the house, and include the extra space in the master bedroom, so we'll be adding 6 foot more depth and about 17 or 18 feet width to the bedroom itself--by going all the way to the end of the bumpout made for our walkin closet. Our 12 x 12 bedroom would become 12 x 18 with a part of it (like 6 x 6) being longer than the 12 foot width. You'd have to see the picture to understand what I mean, sorry if I confuse you.

The back wall of the space will again have Lexan mostly floor to ceiling and it faces east, overlooks our back garden. Not a sunroom, but we'll have a mostly open area surrounded by our privacy fence, and we could have another spot to sit and relax, a different view for the two parrots in their large cages.

Love your room and your furnishings. Well thought out, and highly functional as well as attractive.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:49PM
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mcgillicuddy

moccasinlanding, your planned addition sounds amazing! Your master bedroom will be such a peaceful retreat with that garden view. You can never have too many spots to sit and relax. That's what makes a house a home.

Thanks for your compliments on my fans and my little sunroom. I'm sitting in it right now on this beautiful Sunday morning :-)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 9:50AM
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