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The term 'veranda' can be a confusing one—it often gets thrown around interchangeably with other outdoor structures like pergolas and porches. But, the veranda is a distinct and historic structure with American roots. Let's dive in to explore what a veranda is, its history, what makes it unique, and how much it could cost you to build your own.
What Is a Veranda?
First things first: a veranda is a roofed, open-air porch, often with a railing that extends along the length of it. It's typically attached to a larger residential building and wraps along multiple walls.
What Is a Veranda?
A veranda is a roofed, open-air porch often with a railing that extends along the length. It's typically attached to a larger residential building and wraps along multiple walls.
History of the Veranda
The word 'veranda' (also spelled 'verandah') most likely came into our lexicon via the Spanish word baranda, meaning guardrails or railing. Before they hit the mainstream, verandas could be found on the exteriors of Spanish colonial homes in the American southwest and in early colonial homes in Africa.
The veranda became popular in the 19th century, as architectural movements and landscape design trends across America and the UK sought to emphasize the importance of creating a beautiful outdoor space. This focus (also called the picturesque movement) eventually led to the creation of some of our most treasured public parks, such as Central Park and the National Mall.
But on the residential scale, the picturesque movement focused on creating natural-looking yet stunning landscapes, as well as creating spaces to view them—enter the veranda. They were soon built in many 19th-century upper-class American homes, especially in the South, where the weather was warm enough to enjoy the outdoors year-round.
Landscape designer Andrew Downing Jackson was one of the veranda's most ardent supporters and talked about them at length in his 1850 book The Architecture of Country Houses: "But over almost the whole extent of the United States, a veranda is a positive luxury in all the warmer part of the year, since in midsummer it is the resting place, lounging spot, and place of social resort, of the whole family, at certain hours of the day."
Key Characteristics of a Veranda
You'll find more verandas in warm weather or coastal locales, like SoCal or Florida, where the outdoors can be enjoyed all year long, and you'll find far fewer in colder places like Minnesota or New York. On older homes, verandas are normally accompanied by Gothic Revival, Victorian, or Gingerbread architecture. That's because verandas were *the* thing to have in the 19th century when all these styles existed. Many of these styles were known for their embellished details, and the veranda fits in perfectly to the flourished facade.
The veranda covered with a roof and is open-air, meaning that there are no screens or windows covering the outdoors. It's rarely elevated and normally sits at ground level. Verandas are also typically accompanied with railing and wrap around a wall or two. Their railings and posts may be embellished with ornate designs and details, especially if they're attached to a larger and older home.
How a Veranda Differs From a Pergola or Porch?
There are many words to describe the large variety of outdoor spaces we enjoy: porch, patio, deck, pergola, gazebo, lanai, etc. But, the veranda sets itself apart in that it's attached to the home and covered. Patios, gazebos, and pergolas may or may not be attached to a larger structure.
And while the veranda is covered, a deck or porch may not be. A lanai is incredibly similar to a veranda, except that it finds its roots in Hawaii rather than the U.K. or the continental U.S.
How Much Does It Cost to Add a Veranda?
Want to include this history-laden front porch on your own home? Here's how much it will cost you. The price you'll pay to add a veranda can vary wildly depending on your location, the size, the materials of your veranda, and the level of detail you include. If you want to save money, consider having a smaller or less-detailed veranda.
A simple, smaller veranda that only sits on one side of the home will cost you around $5,000-$12,000. But a larger veranda that wraps around multiple walls, with detailing and high-quality materials, can set you back closer to $20,000-$50,000.