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Brian, Architect
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 3123
Experience:  Licensed Architect- 17 years, L.E.E.D. AP
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We have a 12x42 screened in porch and are going to enclose

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We have a 12x42 screened in porch and are going to enclose it with premanufactured flooe to ceiling windows with one single door entry and one double french door off of the porch. We have 2 single french door entries onto the porch from the house. We are informed that we need to submit drawings that depict how we will construct the encloseure to withstand 90 mile an hour winds, Other than 2x4 framing screwed in, plywood, weather proofing and adding vynal siding to match the house along with insulation, how do we build the exterior walls with primarilary flooe to ceiling windows to meet the code? Thank you for your response. I will tackle the porch as soon as I complete the tile job in the master bath, whew!!! these are some hectic "honey doooos".
Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be helping you today.

You will need to hire a local structural engineer. They will know the latest codes for your area. They will tell you where you need to build shear walls and use many types of Simpson Strong Tie straps, holdowns, hurricane clips at the rafters, etc. The building official will be looking for drawings that show all these connectors and shear wall locations. The windows will also have to be rated to meet the 90 mph wind load.

A structural engineer will not cost you too much. They basically have to come out and inspect the existing conditions and then figure out some force calculations and this will tell them how much shear wall area you need and types and locations of Simpson connectors.

You can find local structural engineers by doing a local search through the yellow pages or online and they will usually come out and give you a free estimate on what they will charge. You can do this with multiple engineers and go with the best price.

If you are satisfied with this answer please leave me a positive rating at your convenience.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Rick,

I was informed that my question was to be answered by "Rick" a contractor of 35 years. The narrative you have provide to me was good for those who have not already spoken to a structrual engineer as I have. He stated that he would send drawings to me about 3 months ago, as of yet no drawings. I was hoping to get "construction advice" from someone who is licensed and "in-the-know" of VA building codes. I have searched for the building codes concerning the window enclosure of the porch, but have not found the specific construction data required. I am thinking that due to the existing porch having a floor, walls and finished roof, that the weight of the windows and other constructional materials may require me to add additional footing suport along with the existing 4x6 in-ground supports. I do not profess to be a "know-it all" but I do know which end of the nail to hit with the monkey wrench lol "just kiddding". I have built other porches, but not enclosing existing porch with such large and heavy windows. Thanks for your narrative. VR, Skip

Skip, If you want to talk directly to Rick, you could have just asked for him in your initial question (just keep in mind for any future questions.) Do you want me to try and transfer you to him?

I was a licensed contractor for 10 years, now a licensed architect for 15 years. I have extensive knowledge of the codes and Virginia is not much different than the codes I use here in Rhode Island. Of course there will be a few local specific codes that vary, but for the most part they are similar.

The building official will be looking for drawings that show any additional structure that is needed to hold up what you are proposing. In addition, he will be looking for metal connectors and shear walls to resist the 90 mph wind forces. A structural engineer can do all of this for you and I would look for another if this engineer is not delivering. You really need an engineer that is local and can look at the existing conditions. An online expert cannot see the existing conditions and give you accurate answers, just general answers.
Brian and other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Brian,

I will check the yellow pages and get a local engineer. Upon my return from the Middle East, I purchased a home in NW sStafford. Mush repairs were required. I hired a "local" contractor to wire anf hang some antique chandliers in the stairs hall. He dropped and broke the chandelier and did not pay the $500.00 for it, nor did he deduct it from his bill. Needless to say other contractors I have had come by have been much less than knowledgable or professional in the work they advertized to perform.


Thank You.



Sorry to hear about all your problems that you have had. It's always good to try and get a recommended contractor from friends or family or even your local building official. Good luck with everything.