Pergolas Installation: What To Know Before You Start
In a world dominated by Home Depot and home remodel reality TV, many homeowners can now accomplish home projects that only a professional could tackle. Pergola installations are wildly popular–not only do they look great, but they are also extremely functional. They can add value and high-end curb appeal to your home while maximizing your outdoor living space.
Need a sheltered space to read a book or share a meal with friends? The pergola meets all these aims and more. But is this a home remodeling project you can tackle on your own? Seemingly simple in design, pergolas installation can be tricky. Before you jump in, it’s worth a phone call to speak to a professional. They can help guide you in the pergola design process or even complete the project for you.
Information and experience are key to successfully installing a pergola. As such, we want to share our installation tips as well as some common mistakes that homeowners often make when tackling this project themselves.
What You Should Know About Installing Pergolas
Before you grab the shovel, make sure you carefully consider all the ins and outs of installing a pergola:
- Think through what kind of materials you want to build with and if these are suitable for your climate and its weather exposure.
- Pergola costs vary widely–do you know what type of look you want and whether or not your budget will support your pergola design?
- How do you intend to use your pergola space? Is it just to add visual appeal and provide filtered shade for plants and walkways, or will it be completely covered and be used to share meals with family and friends or relax poolside with a good book?
- What types of permits and fees are required in your area?
- Are there any height, side- or backyard offsets, or other restrictions in your neighborhood that you must follow when you build backyard structures?
- Are you up for the task of wading through contractual legalese, vetting contractors, and checking on insurance?
- Do you know how deep to dig, where the frost line is, and whether or not you have buried utilities in your yard?
If this list seems overwhelming, it might be time to contact a professional.
Most Common Mistakes People Make When Building A Pergola
Many homeowners have attempted this DIY project. Here are the five common mistakes homeowners make when installing a pergola. Don’t get caught in these traps!
- Not understanding permits & residential restrictions. Every state and county has building codes and regulations that you must follow. It is up to the homeowner to know these codes. Not following codes could lead to the painful reality of tearing out a newly installed pergola because it was not installed to code. There is also side- and backyard offsets that must be followed for backyard structures. Be prepared for some lengthy reading – the building codes are often buried on county websites and hard to access.
- Not checking underground utilities and the frost line before you dig. Every county has employees that will come out and mark where the underground utilities are. Please do not skip this step! Digging up a power line or puncturing a gas line is not only costly, but also extremely dangerous. The frost line is the depth at which the ground freezes. All post holes must be dug at least 6 inches below the frost line in order to not compromise the structural integrity of your pergola.
- Underestimating costs. A simple DYI project can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t carefully consider individual costs. Most people, when estimating a project, don’t factor in sales tax, permit fees, and little items like screws and fasteners. Every little bit adds to the cost creep and you may find yourself with a blown budget.
- Working with the wrong materials. When building a pergola, you have the option of building out of vinyl, steel, cedar, or pressure-treated wood. The material you choose largely determines the price tag, the style, what type of maintenance is required, and how long it will last. What works well in the hot Arizona sun, will work differently in a high mountain climate.
- Measuring. Before you start cutting, you need to have exact measurements and have some basic engineering and woodworking knowledge. Make sure your pergola is measured square and that its final design works visually well with the surrounding elements.
DIY Pergolas vs Professional Pergolas Design And Installation
Despite your best efforts, if this is your first time building a pergola, you are bound to make some mistakes. Bob in Canada sure makes it look easy on Youtube, but properly installing a pergola takes attention to detail, plenty of legwork, and experience. If you think you’ve got what it takes, by all means, jump in. But if you are hesitating, here are some reasons it makes sense to work with a seasoned professional.
Working with a professional, like Big Rock Landscaping, can ensure success the first time around. Not only does a professional know the state and county building codes, but we also do this type of work day in and day out. We are familiar with building codes and have good working relationships with county officials. You are less likely to run into mistakes with a professional by your side.
Another benefit to working with a professional is knowing the total costs of your project–up front. This means no cost creep. Professionals know what it takes to get the job done. What equates to hours of surfing the web and reading fine print on county website comes down to just a few conversations with a pro.
Lastly, you don’t know what you don’t know. You can give it your best shot and even be very skilled at DIY home projects, yet you will undoubtedly make a mistake and encounter problems. The right professional has run up against potential problems and knows how to avoid or solve them efficiently and cost-effectively. A good professional also knows what designs and materials work well for your area and landscapes similar to yours. They also often have design portfolios that you can choose from to help you visualize the final product and how it will ultimately look in your backyard.
Big Rock Landscaping: Your Utah Pergolas Experts
Big Rock Landscaping has been in the landscaping business industry for over two decades, servicing much of the intermountain west. Designing and executing a pergola project is difficult, but with Big Rock Landscaping, you get a professional team that specializes in pergolas design and installation. We follow a process that you can trust:
- We take care of the complexities of building codes. We’ve done it all! We have the experience to marry the comforts of the indoors with your natural surroundings to give your outdoor living space a boost.
- We are specialists in this climate; we know what works and what doesn’t.
- We know luxury design. We aim to create a unique design that will delight you for years to come.
- We make planning with our clients a priority. Our goal is a flawless installation process that eases the worry and burden of wondering if a project will be done right.
- We also have a stunning portfolio of timeless designs to choose from. Visualizing a project is one of the hardest tasks of designing and installing a pergola. We’ve got you covered!
Here at Big Rock Landscaping, we know how to do things right the first time. With decades of experience in the landscaping industry, we can make a truly unique addition to your property. Contact us today to discuss your pergola plans or request a bid for your pergola project.