5 Things to Think About Before Building a Pergola

In Roofs and shelter by

1. Do you need a building consent?

Any roof in Auckland over 30m2 needs a building consent. This size excludes the soffit (underside of the pergola). To get a consent, you’ll need to:

  • Check the rules with council.
  • Draft building plans.
  • Complete and submit the building application form.
  • Pay the building consent application fee.
  • Arrange for a building inspector from council to check the work.
  • Apply for final council sign-off (a code compliance certificate).

Council usually processes consents within 6-8 weeks. But before you can start any work, council must approve your consent.

We can take care of the consenting process for you, from drafting plans to final approval. Alternatively, you can bring us the plans and we will build your pergola.

2. Where to put your pergola

Placing your pergola in a strategic position will create a functional space and draw attention the best parts of your property. You will need to consider privacy, the view, shelter and access to your home. Common placement options are attached pergolas and freestanding.

Attaching a pergola to your house

Attached pergolas rely on your house and vertical beams as structural support. We’ll attach the pergola to your home’s fascia with fixings and a backchannel. A standard roof is around 2.2m – 2.5m high (depending the height of the soffit). If your roof’s soffit is low, we can use riser brackets or install a freestanding pergola to lift the pergola’s height.

One of the main perks of attached pergolas is indoor, outdoor flow. They allow family members to transition effortlessly from inside the house to the outdoors. You can also use pergolas to extend your living space, for instance add coverage near your dining room and place an outdoor table close by to accommodate for extra guests. Likewise, by adding walls, such as privacy screens or roller blinds, you will create a room. Finally, attached pergolas also add privacy by blocking views into your space from elevated neighbouring properties.

Freestanding pergolas

Freestanding pergolas don’t use your home as structural support, but rather get stability from posts sunk into the ground. Detached pergolas make great use of existing space. You’ll be able to create a new area in your yard, and take advantage of views or mature trees on your section. But, you’ll need to consider if the pergola will block movement in your space – you don’t want to interrupt your backyard cricket pitch! Privacy is equally important to think about. If you place your pergola in the open, passers by may be able to see into your outdoor living area.

3. Choose the right design

There are two main pergola designs, gable and flat roof. When attached to your home, flat pergolas are flush with your roof, creating a seamless extension. They also minimise the impact on your home’s existing features. While gable-roofed pergolas have sloping panels that meet in the centre of the roofline to create triangle shaped roof. Thanks to their shape and generous height, gable roofs offer space and allow for airflow. You can also combine a gable and flat roof so the ridge becomes the focal point.

4. What materials to build with

Your budget, ongoing maintenance of materials and their lifespan will help you decide what you should build your pergola out of.

Steel, alumnium, and timber are the main types of materials for frames, while roofs can be steel, plastic, or motorised louvres. Each of these materials have pros and cons. You can even mix and match materials to create certain looks or suit your budget. Read our guide to choosing the right pergola materials.

5. Get the size right

Having a giant pergola attached to a tiny home will look silly. Plus, the larger you go, the more likely it is you will need consent. Instead, think about what you will use your space for – Barbeques? Dinner parties? Christmas lunch? You may need enough space to host guests and shelter outdoor furniture.

Otherwise, you might not need full coverage over your deck if you prefer to spend your afternoon sunbathing. If you have a barbeque, it’s a good idea to keep it out of the cover when cooking, otherwise it can trap smoke and turn your outdoor room into a smokestack. A good size is around 3.6m out from the house.

Sunlight is another important consideration. You want to make sure you have the right balance of shelter and sun exposure. Consider how you can position your pergola to take advantage of sunlight in the cooler winter months. Alternatively, roofing materials like adjustable louvre blades let you open your roof to let light in.

6. Accessorise your pergola

The design of your pergola is not just limited to the shape or the materials you choose. Lighting, plants, and accessories can dramatically change your pergola’s look and the atmosphere of your outdoor space.

Not only will plants add a splash of colour and fragrance to your space, they also provide shade, shelter and privacy. Likewise, climbing plants help provide some weather protection for pergola posts.

Outdoor blinds and screens do the same. Clear café blinds are great for retaining a view of your backyard, while mesh curtains add a pop of colour and protect against UV rays.

Illuminate your pergola to create atmosphere or provide light to guests at the dinner table. We can install 12V LED lights, which don’t require an electrician.

If you wish to install lights, blinds, or accessories at a later date, it may affect how we need to install your pergola. Let our specialist know when he or she is taking measurements, so we can carefully install your pergola so you can easily add any future accessories.