Porch Options

New modern screened porch with patio furniture, summertime woods in the background.

Since we opened in 2007, our primary focus has been assisting people in determining if they want to retire or purchase a home here in Coastal North Carolina. During this time, we guesstimate that over 50% of our clients have built a home for themselves, and the reason is simple – because you get the house the way you want it.

One of the primary living areas of the home is the outdoor space. We can sit and enjoy being on the porch probably 9-10 months of the year, which is a big reason why most people move here. With that said, incorporating outdoor space into your everyday living is a crucial ingredient to your happiness. We have prepared six different options for outdoor living on the back of the same home.

Patio with No Covered Roof

Patio with no cover floor plan

You walk outside the house, and you have a concrete patio or perhaps a wooden/Trex deck. This patio is not covered, and it would be open to the elements, whether it be rain or pollen.  

Covered Open Porch

covered porch no screen option

Having a covered open porch means that your patio will be safe from the elements such as rain, but it has no screen to keep the bugs out of it. You could take advantage of using this area by sitting out on the porch in your outdoor patio furniture and sipping your morning coffee.

Screened-in Porch Only

screened in porch floor plan

When you walk outside, it’s nice to have a screened-in porch to keep the bugs out of the area where you’ll be spending your time at. Keep in mind that you can incorporate stamped concrete, brick, stone, or pavers for your flooring. If you have, it raised a little bit, and you’ve decided to use wood as a regular deck, ask to have some screening added to the bottom of the porch to keep all the bugs and critters out of your screened-in porch.

Four Season Porch with Vinyl Windows

4 seasons room

Yes, we said vinyl windows that slide up and down in sections are trendy. These windows will extend your seasons by up to one month in the Fall & Spring. FYI, they tend to fade, but they help keep out dust and pollen in the Springtime.

Screened Porch with Covered Porch & Summer Kitchen

screened in porch option with outdoor kitchen

This happens to be one of Doug’s favorite options because you’ll use your screened-in porch often. Plus, the Grill Master of the home will fall in love with having a Summer Kitchen on the back porch. This provides a short walk to the actual kitchen.

Carolina Room (Finished) and Screened Porch

floor plan showing a carolina room with screened in porch option for new home builds

While Doug isn’t a big fan of Carolina Rooms in our part of the country, you are just adding another heated or cooled living room adjacent to your Great Room. This is like the old days when homes had a formal living room and a den. At least this option also provides you with a screened-in screened-in. You could just make that a covered porch as well.

Whether you build a new home or renovate a resale home, it is crucial to understand your options, for not all builders will present you with them. The other factor one must address is cost. These six options are organized by price, with option #1 being less expensive. Converting a screened-in porch to a four seasons porch will run you approximately $7K-$10K while converting a screened-in porch to a Carolina Room could cost roughly $20K-$60K. Size, materials, ceilings, and more all influence these costs.

The majority of our clients are moving here from snow country, whether it be NY, NJ, MA, Northern VA, IL, PA, MD, etc., and most of you have been looking out the windows at weather for way too many years. Therefore, if you move to the south, perhaps you may want to consider starting with a screened-in porch and later, if you aren’t happy with it, convert it to a 4 Seasons porch or even a Carolina Room.

Correct Placement of Your Dishwasher in Your Home

One would think that it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out where to place a dishwasher in a kitchen, correct? Well, you may want to pay attention to the next ten kitchens you visit because Rocket Scientists and Architects sometimes don’t have a lick of common sense.

In many of today’s kitchens, the uses of an island have become increasingly popular. The reason is that open floorplans rule the kitchen world, and to accomplish this, one needs an island, as this is the gateway to the living area of the home. A harmful byproduct of this current trend is that the dishwashers get placed in places they don’t belong to. Allow us to share an example of where NOT to put your dishwasher.

Some Einstein felt that the dishwasher would look cool on this island. And while it might look cool, it is functionally obsolete, for the distance from the dishwasher to the cabinets where you store all of your dishes, plates, silverware, pots, and pans is a good 8 ft away. Now, not that we all don’t need some forced exercise in our lives now and then, this location will get old fast, for many of us grew up with a dishwasher right next to the cabinets we store our stuff in, right?

Conversely, here is the same kitchen design but with one subtle yet significant change: moving the dishwasher from the island to the back wall under the cabinets. Aaaahh, another of life’s major issues, has been solved in the name of convenience.

If you have someone draw your plans from scratch or customize a home you have walked through, be certain YOU think about your lifestyle in that floorplan. Be careful not to fall for trends or what appears to be cool just so your builder or home designer can win some kind of Avant-garde award for the most attractive yet functionally screwed-up home in your community.

Think your way through the rooms you will spend a lot of time in and remember that functionality is more important than aesthetic appeal. And next month, we will explore the many fascinating options of where to place your toothbrush…just kidding! If you’re looking for your next dream home with a dream kitchen, allow us at Carolina Plantations to help you out.

To F.R.O.G. or Not To F.R.O.G.

One of the hardest decisions our Carolina Plantations clients face while employing the Martini Theory is when it comes to building their Dream Home. Yes, finding the right geographic area is without a doubt the most important and time-consuming part of one’s search however, with all due respect, does one add on a FROG or not????

In the south, the Finished Room Over the Garage, aka FROG, is the bonus room located directly above your garage. Not sure how this acronym started or how the rest of the world has yet to catch on, but if you are going to make a trip to the south in search of a place to retire to, well, you sure as heck better know your lingo!! CLICK HERE for a dictionary of important terms:

Here are some criteria to consider with regards to adding a FROG:


  • Building upwards is one of the more economical ways to achieve more space for less money.
  • Conversely, building horizontally (as in increasing the size of the footprint of your home), is one of the most expensive solutions to adding square footage to a home.
  • For example. The range to build a square foot on the main level ranges between $130 – $200 per square foot in Coastal NC. A garage is usually 400’+, so the room upstairs, less the knee walls, is usually about 300’, with an average cost to build at $25,000 (including full bath). Therefore, the square footage cost for a FROG is approximately $83’.
  • Another frequent question we get is when people ask if the builder would just build an unfinished are over the garage just for storage. Well, the majority of the real costs in building a FROG are raising the roof approximately 5-6’ so as to achieve walking clearance plus, the cost of the stairway. If the cost is $25,000 for a finished 300’ FROG w/full bathroom, the cost to build it but, not finish it is probably around $18,000 – $20,000.

Basements in the South

  • We are always asked if we have basements here in the low country, and our answer is always the same. “if you had a basement, you’d have an indoor pool”. See, the water table in the Low Country of the Carolinas is relatively high plus, our land is very flat, so there are few opportunities to build a basement and if we do, it is on a homesite that slopes away, which provides us with a Walk Out Basement.
  • Many who build FROGS, use them like they did their basements up north.

Popular Uses of a FROG

  • Might be a tie here for top uses for a FROG, but certainly that of a Man Cave ranks right up there, as heaven knows that women need to send their men away every couple of hours so that they can have some peace and quiet!
  • Children/Grandchildren/Nieces/Nephews – when they come to visit, be it for an hour or a week, just send them to the FROG and problem disappears! Plus, the kids love having their own 300’ Romper Room which is above the garage, so the cars also don’t complain of the noise above!
  • When it is not being used as a cave or playroom for the kids, these ample bonus rooms can be set up for offices, Arts & Craft rooms, Theater rooms or, just for storage.

Other Advantages to Having A FROG

  • One of the most important advantages to adding on a FROG, is resale, as homes without this mighty utilitarian room can take longer to sell, especially if the home is in a community with a fair number of retirees and or younger families.
  • Children that come back home to roost is not just a myth anymore, as more and more seem to find a way to stay permanently on Mom & Dad’s generous payroll. If/when they do move back, be it for 2 weeks or 10 years…, the perfect place for the wayward child is The FROG!!
  • Aesthetically, a home where the roofline of the garage is raised 5-6’ can have a very appealing look to it, not to mention the pleasing look of a large dormer.



With so many functionality options, the multi-purpose FROG is one of the best features of any home you can purchase or build, providing of course the room keeps you within your budget.

Realtor Copyright © 2023 Carolina Plantations. All Rights Reserved. Website Design by InterCoastal Net Designs