Chris Samuelson

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DRE 01320031

25950 Acero, Ste 100
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

24851 Del Prado
Dana Point, CA 92629

What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Do During DIY Pergola Construction

July 3, 2015

Pergolas have become a popular feature in contemporary homes these days. They offer shade, decor, and a multi-purpose area that can be used for all sorts of applications. Whether you’re looking to section off an area for an outdoor living room or a dining area with a stone pizza oven, a pergola is a wonderful way to complement such uses.

Before you undertake your DIY pergola construction project, here are a few things you need to keep in mind. 

Find Out if You Need Permits


Many local municipalities will require a permit before any work starts on the construction of a pergola, as well as many other home construction projects. Keep in mind that what might be relevant in one municipality won’t necessarily be the same in another. So if you’ve recently moved from one community to another, don’t assume that the permit requirement will be the same as your old neighborhood.

Decide on the Exact Spot Where the Pergola Will Be Placed


Pergolas aren’t exactly portable, so it’s important that you choose the exact spot where the pergola will go before you start taking hammer to nail. Think about how you use the space in your yard, as well as the direction of the sun at certain times of the day.

For instance, if you’d like to set up an outdoor living area, you might want to have the pergola built right up against your house. On the other hand, if you have a pool and want the kids shaded when they’re swimming, it might make more sense to build it adjacent to the pool where you can then place a couple of lawn beds underneath.

Determine the Types of Plants and Flowers That Will Around the Pergola


The last thing you want is to have insects invading your space while you’re trying to lounge peacefully under the pergola. Unfortunately, many plants and flowers attract such unwanted guests, so make sure you choose your plants and flowers wisely.

In addition, make sure you don’t plant any flowers or plants that have thorns, especially if you’ve got young children. And it goes without saying – avoid any plants or flowers that you or your family members are allergic to. Just because a certain plant is pretty doesn’t mean it makes the best choice.

Determine the Appropriate Size Pergola for Your Property

A huge pergola might be nice, but if your property’s size doesn’t call for it, you’ll wind up with a host of issues. Not only will it look out of place and make your property seem smaller than it actually is, it might be considered an eyesore to your next door neighbor, who might throw a ton of complaints your way. You also want to consider how the space under the pergola will be used – if you plan on placing certain furniture underneath, the pergola should be large enough to accommodate it, within reason.

Don’t Place the Pergola Too Close to Electric and Gas Lines

pergola_avoid power lines

It’s always important to call your local utility companies before you start digging into your property, regardless of what you’re building. When digging holes to secure the posts for the pergola, you could accidentally hit a line or wire. This will not only knock out the power in your house and the rest of the neighborhood, it could also be a major safety hazard. Every city has a “call before you dig” hotline that is available to you so you know exactly where the safest location is.

Don’t Spend Too Much Money on the Pergola


One of the things that you need to keep in mind is your ROI. While you might not necessarily be considering moving out of your home any time in the near future, you still want to make sure that you’ll at least recoup the money spent should that day come. Your real estate agent will be able to give you pointers about the monetary cap that you should place on the pergola construction so you can stay in line with what the neighborhood calls for.

A pergola is a fabulous feature to have in the backyard. Not only does it provide just the right amount of shade, but when constructed properly, it can add a wonderful element to the overall feel of your property. Keep these pointers in mind before you start construction – and if the DIY route isn’t for you, there’s always the option of having a professional pergola builder deal with the construction on your behalf.