Building a Pergola

Things to do Before Building a Pergola

Constructing a pergola in your backyard not only enhances your outdoor living space but it can increase the value of your home. Yet, whether you build this type of structure on your existing deck or over it, there are several important points to consider before putting hammer to nail.

Consider your materials

In what kind of climate are you building? Is it extremely humid?  Does it get very cold? Maybe the temperature fluctuates often? What type of insects, live there?  How much money can I spend? Before you buy one piece of material or place any order, it’s important that you ask yourself all of these questions. The answers will determine what type of material you’ll be able to use in the construction of your pergola.

For example, the most common material used to build a pergola on a deck or over one is wood.  From cedar, redwood, to pressurized pine there are many types to choose from. Redwood and cedar are the most popular because they’re both insect and rot-resistant woods, not to mention the fact they are good-looking materials. Yet both come with a hefty price tag. By comparison, western red cedar is a stylish but far less expensive option. So depending on your budget and the climate in which you live your choice of pergola material could vary dramatically.

Check your permits

Pick up the phone and speak with your municipal building authorities. Whether you’re building a pergola on your deck or over your deck, you’ll need to know if you need a special permit for this project. Usually, you only need official papers from local authorities if your building a completed structure which a pergola is not considered one. However, if you’re planning on wiring your pavilion with lights and other power accessories such as fans you will need to hire a licensed electrician and likely purchase the necessary permits. Don’t forget to contact your local HOA (Homeowner’s Association) about your planned construction. They will probably have certain limits and constraints regarding construction in your neighborhood.

Contact local utilities

Call your local gas and electric companies before you start any kind of digging. You want a trained professional to come out and mark any gas or electrical lines first. Whether you are constructing a pergola on a deck or over one there will undoubtedly be digging involved. Unfortunately, too many times someone is injured in this type of construction. They’ve not done their homework to know if they’re any gas or electrical lines within their building area.

Know your frost level

If you live in an area of the country that freezes in the winter and you’re building a pergola over a deck then pay attention! You need to know your region’s frost depth. That means the level to which the ground in your area freezes each year. This is particularly important when inserting the support beams of your pergola into the earth. You need to guarantee that you’re going below the frost level. If you inserted one of your pergola beams within the frost zone, all of the freezing and thawing will crack the beam and will thrust it up and out of its hole, thereby ruining the structure. Your regional building authority will be able to confirm your area’s frost depth.

Start building

You’ve made the decision to build a pergola. Whether you’re constructing it on your deck or over it, there is a lot of planning involved to ensure it will be built properly and safely. Yes, adding a pergola to your yard will add living space and increase the value of your home. However if it’s not done properly your decision might prove to be more a hindrance than an asset.