It’s mid-winter in the Truckee Meadows, and we’re enjoying the snow after several years without. But it’s also around this time—when winter’s been going on long enough to make us miss not-winter just a little bit, and March and all of its thaw-dependent projects inch closer on the calendar—that we start thinking of spring. And sun. And warmth. And green.

Don’t know about you, but all that spring daydreaming makes us think about ways to enjoy home and yard even more in the coming year. And one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to do that is with the addition of a three-season sunroom.

As additions go, three-season rooms are relatively simple projects. They don’t require ductwork, plumbing, insulation, or removing existing walls. Even electrical wiring is optional. What they do require is some strategic planning, placement, and preparation, all of which you can be doing now while you’re waiting for outdoor work weather to return.

 

PLANNING

First things first: Be sure to get feedback from others living in your home on how they’ll use the new sunroom. Is there a late-night reader who plans to sink into an armchair out of the main living area with a good book? Does anyone work from home who might be interested in using the three-season room as additional workspace? If so, you’ll want lighting fixtures, which means either planning for electrical wiring and outlets, or running a discreet extension cord from existing outlets.

 

Other factors to consider in your planning will be:

Ratio of windows to walls
What kind of flooring works best for usage and conditions
Skylights or solid roof?
Privacy decisions, like tinted windows, if neighbors are close by

 

PLACEMENT

Do you want to enclose an existing porch for your new sunroom, or start from scratch? Enclosing an existing porch will make many of your decisions easier, because you’ll have the dimensions and even some of the structure already set in advance. But some homeowners prefer to keep their existing porch areas open for warm-weather enjoyment, or simply don’t have one, in which case your next decision is: where?

Typically, three-season sunrooms work best when built off of an existing doorway, like a sliding glass door. This removes the need for cutting and framing a new doorway or changing existing wall space. Other placement considerations will require an inventory of what currently exists on the other side of that doorway—a deck? Concrete patio? Storage area? Lawn and landscaping? Your sunroom plans and its dimensions will need to work around these potential obstacles.

To make your three-season sunroom as useful as it can be for as much of the year as possible, you’ll also want to give some thought to optimizing it for passive solar heat gain. That means letting in as much sun as it can during cooler months, and allowing for very little direct sun during hot summer months, especially late afternoon sun. The most straightforward way to do this is to orient your sunroom to get as much southern exposure as is possible.

 

PREPARATION

Once you’ve got your plans and placement decisions set, it’s time to prepare for the project by checking with local homeowner’s associations for codes and regulations you may need to adjust for, and for getting the proper permitting from local officials. Allow at least 4-6 weeks for this process.

You’ll also want to begin preparing your home and family for the modifications necessary to have this area of the home under construction for a short time. Finally, be sure to estimate tools and materials properly so that you can streamline your project and avoid delays. How long your three-season sunroom will take and how much you can expect to spend will depend on its size, composition, how much of the labor you do yourself, and how much time you have to devote to it.

 

Our experienced lumber staff at Reno Lumber can help with your lumber needs to get your new sunroom started. Give us a call at 775-329-9663 for a free estimate.