Pergola Building Plan

Why Preparing your Pergola Building Plan makes Construction Easier...

You want to build a shade shelter, often also refered to as an arbor, which is there to provide a cool comfortable place where you can relax and enjoy your garden.

A Pergola is a wonderful garden structure which can change the look of the facade of your home by bringing with it a Mediteranean flavour and can change the way you use your outdoor living space.

Your Pergola Building Plan should be of a style that reflects the type of home you live in. The more simple designs better suit more modern urban homes. They are often painted sympathetically to echo the home and the new outdoor living space - green, lilac, purple, amber and black are popular colors.

Traditional Wooden Pergolas are prepared so that you can see and enjoy the natural grain of the wood, although the wood should always be sealed and is often stained to obtain the right tone. More ornate traditional pergolas are perfect for country homes and idylic settings.

Pergolas picture showing pergola building plan options


Attached Pergolas

A Pergola Building Plan designed to rest against the side of your home in one of two ways - either on a beam or directly onto wall hanger brackets and is known as an "Attached Pergola" and is balanced by only two or three outer posts.

This type of construction is ideal when built over a deck or patio and is the quickest and easiest to build as only the minimum amount of post holes need to be dug and the supporting posts then cemented in.

Although a Pergola does not have a fully covered roof like a conservatory it does give you the sense of a more intimate and cosy outdoor living area than a deck or patio that is totally uncovered.

Pergolas are usually flat roofed constructions with the supporting posts covered by thick level beams with finer rafters on top - but an attached pergola also gives you the option of creating a softly sloping open shelter.

The frame work of a Pergola allows you to create a balmy oasis of climbing plants and hanging baskets.


Free Standing Pergolas

Sometimes because of building regulations it is necessary to prepare your pergola building plan away from your home, your local building office will advise you of your local code regulations. In some cases the required distance may be as little a 6" but the rules a specific to different areas.

Keep in mind regarding building permits for your pergola building plan, that no amount of time or money spent on your construction is worth it if it does not come up to code. You pergola building plan will not be an asset to your home or have a hope of adding value if it is not certifiable as an addition.

Preparing a Pergola Building Plan away from the facade of your home calls for a traditional "Free Standing" Pergola supported by four posts - many people prefer this method of construction for it's symetrical, esthetic qualities.

Pergola picture of a traditional wood pergola design


Free Standing Pergola Designs are often more decorative with ornate corner inserts within the corner bracing and panels of trellis to provide privacy with a wall of climbing plants.

Pergola pictures of both Attached and Free Standing examples can be seen at another of our article... just go momentarily from pergola building plan to - Gazebos and Pergolas to have a peek! - (opens in a new window)

Pergola Building Plan Preparation

Home Improvement Software where you can use a photograph of your home will enable you to create the size of construction that will "fit" your home.

Whether you use software to help you or a basic pencil and paper, your design will help convey to your local building office exactly what you are planning to do and also to illustrate what type of pergola you want - if you decide to use a certified building contractor instead of building yourself.

Local building offices are a great resource not only for local regulations but also for building advice, for example:

  • The depth of Pergola Footings you need to dig and fill with cement to support your posts will depend on your local soil type and the depth of the frost level in your location - so that you go below it to minimise structure movement when the ground freezes and warms throughout the seasons..
  • If you can use specialist ground stakes that your posts are secured onto
  • If you can use basic wall joists for a simple attached pergola construction
  • Checking for the location of all underground pipes and cables on your property is paramount before you start to dig any post holes.
  • You will need to know how big your construction can be
  • What are the height limits if any for your pergola.
  • What is the maximum recommended span for beams and rafters
  • They can also advise you if there are any special requirements regarding the method of attaching beams to posts and rafters to beams.
  • You can also check if there are any limitations to the type of cover you can place on top of your rafters - louvres, trellis or lattice for a more shady retreat.
  • How far your construction needs to be from neighboring boundaries
  • What wood stain or color options are acceptable in your neighborhood.
  • Knowing the regulations in your area will also help you to determine if a certain pergola kit will be suitable for your home. Pergola Kits are bought with all of the pieces prepared and only require assembling - quick but not as much fun as making your own!.


Pergola Timber

The type of timber you choose will determine how much work you will have to spend on maintenance and should depend on the climate of the area where you live.

Softer less dense timbers like treated pine will require regular sealing to keep away mildew and bugs. Pine works well in dry climates where problems of damp and rainfall are not such an issue. These more economical timbers are often sealed and stained to create the look and tone of more expensive timber or sealed but left to weather to a natural grey.

Pergola timber choices for tone and wood type
Building with heart Redwood or red, yellow or white Cedar has enormous advantages in that these strong dense timbers have unique properties that repel insects and water - making them more decay resistant and more resiliant to the extremes of weather - therefore longer lasting.



A Pergola construction benefits from the natural yellow, orange or red tones of these more expensive types of timber and they are also very desirable tones.

Use your pergola building plan to improve the quality of your outdoor living space and create a classic are for entertainment.

A pergola construction really helps you to enjoy your garden by providing enough shade to allow you to enjoy the view.


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