In the Third Lake Ridge Historic District in Madison, Wisc., front porches are a prominent architectural feature of many of the homes, which were built between the 1850s and the 1920s. This particular Victorian-style home dates to 1899, and the porch (like many in this neighborhood) suffered from shallow footings, rotten floor boards, and roof leaks. My employer, TDS Custom Construction, a 30+ year-old design/build firm located a few blocks away from the district, was hired to restore the porch as well as design and build a single-car garage for the property that would stylistically complement the original house.

I was the lead carpenter on the project, which still had a variety of unknowns when we started our work. For example, we knew that we would need to pour new footings and rebuild the floor system, but we didn’t know the extent to which the roof system had been damaged as a result of the old footings’ sinking. Because the existing finished ceiling of the porch was in good shape, we wanted to save it and the roof framing, if possible. But it was obvious that something was going on with the roof framing based on a soft spot and obvious mid-roof sag.

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