Grand entrance for your home (© C. Borland/PhotoLink/Getty Images. )

Q: Our house has no overhang or protection from the weather at the front door. We want to add a covered entry area. Can you offer some advice?

A: It’s surprising how many houses have either no covered entrance at all, or else one that’s merely decorative and offers no real protection from the weather while you fumble with your keys. I think it stems from builders trying to save a few dollars on construction. My first piece of advice would be to make the overhang large enough to do the job. It should be able to accommodate two people — and keep them covered while one person stands to the side and the other one swings the front door open.

Next point: Provide adequate lighting. A cover will darken the front entry area, which can make a house seem sinister and uninviting at night. That’s easily corrected, though. Ideally, you will install a fixture on the ceiling of the entry, but a pair of lights on the wall of the house, flanking the front entrance, will supply enough light.

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If you’re doing the electrical work yourself, and you plan to mount the lights to the front of the house, you might find it easier to make a mounting block for the lights. Fastened to the house’s sheathing, the block will provide a flat and secure mounting surface regardless of what kind of siding you have.

In all other respects, building a covered entry is like undertaking any other construction project. The structure needs to be supported on a foundation that reaches below the frost line, and it must conform to the building codes in effect where you live.

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The better entry
A covered entry is more than just a nice touch; there are several practical reasons for it. First, it protects you from the weather as you open the door. Next, it protects the front door itself from weather, and that’s particularly important if the house faces the prevailing winds, driving seasonal rains or harsh direct sun. Finally, it’s a means of architectural expression.

View this slide show for six covered entry options, and see which one might be best for your house.

By Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics