A pergola is a great addition to any property, it helps create a beautiful outdoor space and extends the summer period when you can relax outside. For some, it allows use all year round.
The best solutions create a space that is comfortably big enough for a patio set, seating area or even both. There are many things you will want to consider, but we think these four are a good start.
- Planning Permission
We have a lot of permitted development rights in the UK and, in most cases, there will not be any restrictions to building a pergola if some simple points are followed.
- You are not allowed to site a pergola in front of your house or at the side between the house and the boundary fence.
- Half of the garden area of your original house is not already covered by a garden building(s). Note – Original house means exactly that before any extensions or alterations are taken into account.
- If your chosen site is within 2m of your boundary fence then you are restricted to 2.5m as the maximum height of your pergola. This is probably an ideal height for most properties and allows tall people 1.83m (6ft) to pass underneath easily.
- If you can move the position of your pergola to greater than 2m from your boundary you are allowed to build up to 3m in height which can create an impressive structure in the right setting.
- In conservation areas the restrictions above still apply but, additionally, if you want to build further than 20m from your house you are restricted to a maximum size of 10m2 before you need to apply for planning permission.
- If your building is listed you must always apply for planning permission.
- If you are unsure, it is always best to check with a quick call to your local planning office.
- Location, Location, Location
You may already have the perfect spot in mind for the pergola – is it the patio, lawn or next to the pool? You will already have thought about the best place to catch the best of the sunshine, but have you thought about any services or utilities that pass under the area? This is important as the foundation/base of your post will need to be in the ground or attached to it. Although all services and utilities should be installed at a safe depth it is always best to check before breaking the ground as it is not only dangerous but will be expensive to repair any water or gas pipes, electricity or fibre cables or surface water or sewage drains. You may already have this information with the documents when you purchased your house, had building work approved and, if not, your local utility company should help with your query.
- Materials & Finish
Most pergolas are made from wood or aluminium, both have different design aesthetics and provide a strong stable framed structure. There is more flexibility in material choice and finish with a wooden pergola – it can be a hardwood such as European Oak or a treated softwood, but you should always ensure they are the correct durability class and use class for external frames. Aluminium frames are naturally more durable but do need to have a protective coating to prevent oxidisation, they can be easier to construct and provide a modern feel. Choosing a natural wood can provide a beautiful and elegant finish or look equally modern in fresh colours and shades to match outdoor furniture. Importantly, you will want to know how sustainable your chosen material is and where it comes from. Is it from sustainable sources in the UK, or Europe or imported from much further afield?
- Sun, Rain & Privacy Protection
We love it when we get those lovely, settled spells of good weather in the UK, they can happen any time of the year and a well-designed pergola will allow you to enjoy it in style. The pergola frame on its own is great in fine weather but provides little protection against the harsher elements leading you to run indoors to stay dry. A bespoke shade can provide protection from the sun and importantly, the rain, which is probably needed more often.
Building a pergola can be a great addition for you and your family to relax and even add value to your home, of course, you could buy a pergola instead. Whichever option you choose we hope you consider these tips to help you create your dream pergola. Do let us know if you have any advice you wish to share.