Top Tips for Designing and Building A Porch or Patio in a Mountain Environment

It took a while, yet summer seems to have finally arrived in Lake Tahoe.  And with the celebration of the clear skies, warm temperatures, and BBQ season, it always reminds me about the enjoyable opportunity to help our clients envision their ideal porch and patio for their mountain home in Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

From designing lakefront estates in Lake Tahoe, to mountain retreats in Truckee, to vacation or golf course property homes to share with friends and family, every property is an opportunity to get outside to enjoy our summer months.

When we design porches for mountain homes there are many things to consider, especially with our high elevations.

First and foremost are our clients’ personal ideas.  Over our 30 year in the business of designing mountain homes in Incline Village and throughout the Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions, we have enjoyed designing a wide variety of outdoor decks to fulfill their needs and dreams.

Here are a few things you might want to consider that they have shared with us and/we we have recommended over the years.

  1. Snow Load:  With our elevation comes additional safety requirements to ensure any outdoor deck is structurally designed to hold significant snow load. That’s usually the first step.  At Borelli Architecture, we work with the local TRPA building departments and county officials all the time and can be an excellent resource to ensure your design is fit for the location.
  2. View: Thanks to the magnificent High Sierra, many of the estates that we design afford every opportunity to ensure a deck or two is wrapped with views of the Sierra or Lake Tahoe
  3. Size: Every home built in Lake Tahoe is required to abide by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s “Impervious Coverage” regulation.  What this means is that your home/property has a coverage allocation; and although your deck may be a level above the ground, the land beneath the deck may be included in this coverage restriction. As we noted earlier, we know the TRPA building and impervious coverage rules and would be delighted to sort this out for you.
  4. Purpose: We can only assume that an outdoor deck will certainly be used for entertaining, but how much and how often?  If you are at your home year-round, we always suggest our clients think about including an Outdoor Kitchen, Fire-Pit, Entertainment Bar, and plenty of room for all to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in a mountain community.  If you are only using your home once in a while, perhaps scale down the size; someone will need to shovel that deck when you’re not around!
  5. Tiki Bar Perhaps?We call this ‘thinking outside of the porch.”  At our home in Incline Village we built a seasonal Tiki Bar just off the patio.  I can assure you that adding a feature like this will be a big hit!

When you are ready to have a home designed in Lake Tahoe, Truckee or even on eastern slope of the Sierra in Carson City and beyond, we’re ready to do the homework for you.

Feel free to reach out to our team at any time.  And in the meantime, get out and enjoy the sunny weather – and perhaps that Tiki Bar!.  Winter will be back before we know it!


James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee




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