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Build a shady pergola

If you get cracking now, there's still time to build a pergola for outdoor entertaining. Plant a fast growing creeper and you will soon have a shady spot to sit and relax.

Use pressure treated lumber to make your own pergola for a shady spot to sit and relax outdoors. Add accessories to make this a comfortable extension of your indoor living or dining room and add value to your home. 

When deciding to add a pergola to your outdoors the most important thing you can do is plan properly. If you are doing a DIY project, draw up a basic plan of where the pergola will be placed and what is needed to complete the project.

In most areas a freestanding pergola should not require planning permission, unless it will be placed over a servitude or against a neighbours wall. For this reason it is best to check before you do any work and submit plans where necessary. Your local Town Planning will be able to offer advice on what is required to ensure that any structure is legal and that there is no possibility of it being ripped down at a later stage.

There are many different designs for a pergola, from a basic 4-post with beam roof, to decorative beams and caps. Obviously you want to choose a design that is within your skill set and budget.

When setting down a plan you also need to consider roof and floor. For a solid and permanent floor you should throw a concrete slab, and this would need to be done before any construction takes place to allow for holes and brackets to be included for the upright posts to support the structure - as well as any conduits for power and / or water supply. A reinforced concrete slab (with wire or rebar grid) needs to be allowed to cure for 5 to 7 days, so allow for this in your planning. 

Find advice and technical information on concrete related issues on the Concrete Institute website.

With the slab in place it's time to start constructing the frame for the pergola. Pressure treated lumber is available at lumber and timber merchants around the country, so do a little research beforehand to determine your closest supplier and the stock available. We provide a list for some of the larger suppliers in South Africa.

Building a pergola is a simple process - working from the bottom up. After mounting the main support posts it's time to move onto mounting the support beams and then the roof beams. During the planning phase, make sure to allow for all the brackets, steel plates, and fasteners, required to complete the project. It may also be necessary to hire larger power tools for the day, if you don't already own these. There are hire shops around the country that hire out larger power tools by the day, so again, do your research beforehand.

Visit our Garden Section for advice on different pergola designs, and ideas for setting up an outdoor living or dining area. If you like the design shown in this feature, it can be found here. Not all the materials used in the construction are available locally and you will need to look at suitable alternatives. Additionally, the measurements are in Imperial but you can convert these to metric using this handy measurement conversion tool.

For those wanting to draw professional plans for all types of DIY projects, you can download a free version of SketchUp that is easy to use.

 

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