Pergola Plans – How to Build a Pergola Attached to House
It’s easy to get discouraged about building a pergola when you look at pergola plans, designs, and photos on the Web. Sure it would be nice to build a replica of the Taj Mahal in your backyard, but who can really afford something like that, much less have the skills to build it? I think what most people are looking for are smaller, more modest pergolas they can build themselves without a contractor. It won’t be the easiest outdoor project you’ll ever take on, but if you keep the plan design simple, just about any DIYer can build a nice-looking pergola without spending a fortune.
Most houses in my part of the country have a small deck off the kitchen or master bedroom. That seems to be standard for new construction. Problem is that these open decks get blasted continuously with sunlight, and will bake you alive in summer if you try to spend any time out there.
And that’s not to mention the sunlight damage to your deck boards. So what I’ve seen a lot of people do is simply attach a pergola to the side of the house and let the rafters hang over the deck or patio. This blocks just enough sun to make spending time outside more pleasant, as well as give a deck or patio a little added protection from UV rays.
That’s not to say you necessarily have to attach a pergola to the side of your house. There are plenty of pergola plans for building free-standing structures, maybe something that will sit a little farther out in the yard. You’ll want to understand the difference between these two kinds of construction, though (attached pergolas and stand-alone pergolas) because one is definitely not like the other.
By far, the easier approach to building a pergola is to attach it to the side of your house, garage, or some other existing structure. The idea is to use the stability of what’s already in your yard to keep your pergola in place. This means less planning, fewer materials, and much quicker construction than building a free-standing pergola. If you already have a deck in place, this will make the job even easier. An existing deck gives you the perfect foundation for mounting the main posts of a pergola, which is a key component in making your pergola stay upright. The other key component of an attached pergola is the ledger – a board that you’ll attach to the side of your house to support the rafters. If you can get these two structural components set up properly, constructing the rest of an attached pergola is fairly easy
A stand alone pergola can be a stunning addition to your backyard or patio. These kinds of pergola plans, though, are a little more challenging than the type you attach to the side of your house. As with any kind of free-standing structure, you’ll need a secure foundation to keep the pergola from blowing over in a brisk wind. This means having to dig at least four holes in the ground and then setting posts in concrete to create footings. Keep in mind that any time you start digging holes around your house you run the risk of hitting something that the city might have buried there (like cable and gas lines). Call your utility companies first to let them know about your project plans. They’ll come out and mark the location of any buried cables you might have around the house. After that you’ll be ready to go. If all this sounds a little intimidating…laying out footings, digging post holes, pouring concrete…you might consider finding a contractor to take on this stage of the pergola project. This will free you up to concentrate on building the frame, rafters, and other more decorative parts of a pergola.
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