When Chris Dawson of Peachtree City, Georgia, built a treehouse for his family, it appeared to give him the idea that adding on a screened-in porch to his home would be an easy DIY project. “I decided to try to do it myself, after my kids praised the treehouse I built a few months earlier. I found a plan online and assumed it would be relatively easy. I had no idea.”

Of course Mr. Dawson did complete this project and it turned out to be a valuable, and much-used, addition to their home. Even though the project took a lot longer than planned (thanks in part to an unusually rainy summer), the Dawson family is happy with the results. And we are impressed!

We asked Mr. Dawson to share his DIY porch addition with us.

Dawson Deck1.jpgThe DIY porch project gets started.

Name: Chris Dawson
Location: Peachtree City, GA
Years Owned: 10
Scope of Remodel: added a screened-in porch
Cost of Remodel: Approximately $10,000
Project length: 1 year
Professionals Hired: I hired an electrician and a roofer to help make sure I got that part right. I was also lucky to have my friend Michele Vitulo, a builder who recently moved here from Italy, who worked with me on most of the project and made sure everything was square and done right.

Tell us about why you decided to renovate?

We really wanted to enjoy our backyard more, and started a tradition called Marley Sundays out by the pool, with reggae, rum drinks, grilled food and friends.We had a store-bought screened gazebo but the netting and fabric was coming apart and we wanted more space. So we took many professional bids to build a screened porch, and those ranged from $20,000 to $40,000.

What was your proposed budget and what was your actual budget?

The plan we found online estimated the cost at $6,500. We knew ours would be a bit more, as we built ours significantly bigger, and city code forced us to add on a 4×6 deck with stairs on the outside of it. I was estimating around $8,000 and we ended up at approximately $10,000.

How did you successfully work with your professionals?

We used recommendations from friends and family. The two professionals I hired were brought on for specific roles (placing the shingles, and wiring the electricity). The professional who helped me throughout, my friend Michele Vitulo, worked with me from the start to finish.

Dawson deck 2Details of the rafters and roof.

Did you do any of the work yourself?

Most of it. I took a week off initially and then it became an evening after work and weekend project. The rainy summer really stretched out the length of the project.

What are some of your favorite elements of the remodel?

I never built anything like this, so it is a great sense of accomplishment. The week I took off from work to just build was particularly fulfilling, because i was actually making something with my hands instead of the “virtual internet work” I accomplish in my work cubicle at my job.

IMG_0947The final project, perfect for weekend relaxing.

What was your biggest challenge or disappointment during the remodel?

How long the project took! It rained so many weekends during the summer that I was really delayed in getting much done. After working all day to come home to another never-ending project got old pretty quick, but once I could see the finish line I was renewed with a push to see it through.

If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it, to be honest. Thankfully I was not aware how big of a job this was! I now see underestimating the size and scope of projects as actually a strength. Sure, I bit off more than I could chew but in the end I accomplished it, where others would not have tried!

940865_10201172514373865_1051363486_n - CopyThe treehouse that started it all!

Thank you Dawson Family!