Guest Blog: Rebecca Doyle – Our Portico

As well as offering practical benefits, a portico instantly transforms the appearance of almost any property.  Visually striking, a portico adds that much sought after ‘kerb appeal’, whilst significantly enhancing the value of any property.

In our latest guest blog, Rebecca Doyle of @thehousebuild describes how she chose and installed a Haddonstone portico for her unique project.  Rebecca also offers some helpful tips to anyone planning to install a portico themselves.

  • Eddie Judd Photography

    Profile picture of Rebecca Doyle sitting in her kitchen

Rebecca Doyle, @thehousebuild

I set up the @thehousebuild account on Instagram in May 2017 as we embarked upon the build.  I wanted a place to document our house build for friends and family.  A place to be able to show people the before and after and progress of the build.  Now that the house build is over, my page has become more of a lifestyle account and I love the community of followers that I’ve built up.

My husband and I have renovated 4 properties together in the last 15 years and as much as we do love our home now, never say never…

  • Rebecca Doyle's house before installing a Haddonstone portico

Design process

Life is always about compromise isn’t it? Especially when buying a house. We fell in love with our house, a 1903 brick and render coach house which hadn’t been touched for 48 years.  It was a massive project and we saw it as a total blank canvas. Nothing we couldn’t handle having just come from another total renovation project.

The only real thing we didn’t like about the house was that the front door was located in the corner of the house. But that was the only compromise so in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t much. After we bought the house and moved in, we spent a year drawing up plans for the renovation and extension of the house. There really was no way to move the front door and entrance hall without losing one of the main reception rooms. And we were not prepared to do this. And so the front door had to stay where it was.

  • Eddie Judd Photography

    Image of Rebecca's Doyle symmetrical living room

I’m a huge lover of symmetry in everything I do design-wise, so this was always going to bug me. But first world issues and all that…

We had to find a way to make the front door and entrance stand out and fit the scale of the newly designed and renovated house. Going back a few steps, the house build project involved removing every internal wall apart from two, removing the roof, removing every floor and ceiling and every window and doubling the square-footage of the house.

It started as a 6-bedroom house with 2 bathrooms and ended up as a 6-bedroom house with 5 bathrooms, two new reception rooms with a huge live-in kitchen/diner/living room. A huge project which took 15 months to complete.

We lived in the house throughout the build other than for 6 months when we decamped to a flat around the corner and put our belongings into a shipping container on the drive!

  • A Haddonstone portico that inspired Rebecca Doyle

So, back to the front door and how to give it impact.  I had always loved the Georgian style and the formal stone porticos you see on beautiful Georgian homes. This is definitely what I had my heart set on, but having trawled the internet for many months, I couldn’t find a portico done in the corner of a house. Could it even be done? We began to have doubts.

With the front door so close to the corner of the house, we then considered having a Georgian door surround instead and I found some that I fell in love with on the Haddonstone website.  I contacted Haddonstone who advised that I couldn’t have the ones I wanted as it just wouldn’t fit into the space we had to the left of the front door.

  • A Haddonstone colleague measuring some balustrading

So back again to the portico idea.  I sat down and began sketching out how the portico could work being in the corner and there were 3 options as I could see it. A portico with two whole front columns, a portico with one full front column on the right and a half column on the left, and finally a portico with only one front column on the right. Being obsessed with symmetry the obvious choice was two whole columns and I was desperate to have this, but it just wouldn’t work as it went over the front door and actually made the situation worse. So back to the two options remaining, I just never liked the idea of one column as I felt it would be out of balance and also make the door look even more off centre in the building. So the only option left was for one full and one half column.

To be sure, I contacted Haddonstone and asked them to come out and do a survey for a design. The surveyor was super helpful and totally agreed with me that the one and a half columns was the only real option. He measured up and brought some actual stone samples with him for us to choose the stone. It was so helpful having actual stone samples to hold up against the render and we instantly fell in love with the Portland stone colour.

  • Rebecca's portico during installation

The Installation

A few days later, we had our plans through, and they were absolutely perfect. No changes needed and we approved them right away. The plans were perfect and six weeks later the stone arrived. We asked Haddsonstone for recommended installers as we had no idea where to start and always prefer to go with a recommendation where possible. We asked for three quotes and they varied massively, depending on what was included.

We appointed an installer and it took seven days for the installation to be completed.  I had no idea of the amount of work involved. We needed foundations dug, a concrete base installed and a steel ring beam to support the weight of the portico. And then there was the roof to be constructed and made watertight. And finally, the stone needed pointing up to hide all of the joins as everything comes in sections.

  • Rebecca's installers work on her Haddonstone portico

A point on drainage – decide on this with your installer before any work commences!

Thinking logically, the water from the roof of the portico needs to drain away somewhere, but a total lack of communication with our installers meant that I came home from work one day and found a huge great plastic pipe coming through the front of our beautiful new portico. Not a great look.

I had a panic (putting it mildly) and a significant amount of extra work was needed to rectify this to change the drainage. We now have the drainage coming off the side of the roof and not over the front.  Our portico looks beautiful and all is well!

A note for the future.

  • Rebecca's finished Haddonstone portico

The Finished Product

It’s actually hard to put into words the difference the Haddonstone portico has made to the house overall and to the entrance. It has brought the whole house together and made what was once an insignificant front door into an impressive entrance.

Everyone who has seen it is amazed at the scale of it and what a huge difference it has made. Our portico has without a doubt completed our home.

We cannot fault the service provided by Haddonstone from start to finish and we would recommend them to anyone. They were recommended to us by hundreds of people and I can now see why.

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