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What you should know about building permits for a pergola.

A handyman recently asked me if his customer needed a pergola permit for their project or not. Since this is a fairly common question whenever anyone is looking to add a structure to their yard, I thought it would be a good idea to outline some basic permitting rules.

Start with your city building license and permit office

Every city has different regulations and laws so I cannot just tell you straight out whether you will need a permit or not. We always start with this site to find the local website or office the covers this topic. There is about a 50/50 chance you will need a permit according to our experience. If you are attaching your pergola to the side of the house, the chances are a bit higher that you will need to comply with some structural rules. Now, since a pergola is not a true room addition without walls and without a complete roof, even when a permit is needed, the guidelines are less strict in order to get clearance.

In other words, even if you need to get one, you should not let this deter you as it is a very simple process. We’ve found that simply submitting the pergola plan with dimensions and a material list along with a photo of the intended site for the pergola, that permits are very quickly issued if needed.

Check your HOA

A more critical potential source of building restrictions would be a homeowner’s association. If you live in an area that is covered by one, then absolutely do NOT skip clearing your plans with them.

Even though we’ve covered this topic before, I feel it is something that needs to be discussed every so often to keep it fresh for new visitors because it is such an important place to begin when you are considering a do it yourself pergola building project.

Applying for a Pergola Permit

Hello and welcome back! Are you enjoying your summer? Perhaps under a new pergola? Or, have you now put building a pergola on your list of things to do before the summer ends? If so, you are clearly not alone because it has been very busy around here!

If you are wise, you have already considered that you might need to obtain a pergola permit. That should be item number 1 on your to do list for a new pergola whether you will build one on your own or purchase a pergola kit. Our informal survey of cities around the US indicates that about half will require some kind of permit to add a pergola to your yard. This is done through your city building department so check online for how to contact them and see if you need one.

Do not worry if you do – it is really a simple process. You will probably have to pay a small application fee and submit the drawings or plans for your pergola. If they are very strict, they may want to inspect the finished product to make sure it matches what you submitted. These precautions are there to ensure the structure you are building is sturdy & will last through all types of weather and will bear the load of the partial roof.

The more tricky situation to deal with are the requirements of a homeowner’s association. If you don’t live in an area with an HOA – congratulations! If you do, then we can just about guarantee that you will need approval for your new pergola. HOA’s tend to be most concerned with keeping styles and colors consistent with the surrounding structures and also making sure no views are obstructed. HOA’s will want not just drawings of the pergola, but probably also a material list and a plotting map or drawing showing the exact placement of the pergola.

We are not trying to scare you away from the idea of building a pergola! These regulations are not that hard to meet, but you do certainly need to be aware of them and make sure you fulfill them before you get started. You only want to build a pergola once!

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