Whether you’re looking for a garden accent or a respite of shade a pergola is an inexpensive, beautiful route to go.
But what does it cost to build a pergola? Come along — I’ll explore this question and more. By the end of this article, you’ll be a pergola expert!
First, the short answer: a pergola’s cost is a function of how large it is.
The bigger your pergola, the higher the cost of the materials and the longer it will take to construct. With that being said, here’s are some general rules of thumb:
|Type of Build||Estimated Cost|
|Complete DIY||$200 – $400|
|Experienced Contractor||$1500 – $5000+|
|Pergola Kit||$500 – $1000+|
Many online resources and dishonest contractors will try to tell you that the material cost will be around $1500-$3000 alone. This is complete hogwash.
The lumber is cheap. These shady folks are padding the cost of the material to inflate the total cost of the project. If you end up building a DIY pergola, you will be spending a lot less on materials.
Actually, let’s go ahead and lay out the material costs.
Average Material Cost
|Pressure Treated 4″ x 4″ x 8′ Timber||4||$32|
|Pressure Treated 2″ x 6″ x 12′ Cedar Planks||9||$252|
|Pressure Treated 2″ x 4″ x 12′ Lumber||4||$28|
|Pressure Treated 1″ x 4″ x 12′ Boards||2||$12|
Estimated total cost of materials: $324
Please note that I’ve used pressure treated and cedar options when available.
This is high-quality lumber meant to stand the test of time. You could push the price down even lower by cutting corners and opting for cheaper materials. There’s quite a bit of wiggle room.
The one caveat here is if you’re building an extremely large pergola. Naturally, if your pergola is 60 feet long, you’re going to need more materials. Likewise, if you decide to build your pergola completely out of teak, the material cost will raise slightly.
However, for a simple run-of-the-mill pergola, the above is about as much as I’d expect to pay.
So, what does it cost to build a pergola? If you’re doing it yourself, you have your answer above. If you’re not, let’s evaluate the remaining components of a pergola build: labor costs.
Labor costs can vary tremendously based on the contractor and the time of year.
If you pick an artisan woodworker to construct a custom-designed pergola, this will naturally cost more than a handyman using plans you found online. Generally, the range of labor costs is somewhere between $1500 at the low-end and $5000 at the high-end.
I realize that this is a large range, but there are too many variables in play to give you a more concise answer. However, I can give you some tips on how to reduce labor costs for your pergola.
Plan It Out Beforehand
If you measure your area and bring a suitable blueprint to a contractor, this can make their job a lot easier. They won’t have to spend time drawing out a custom solution for you and you won’t have to pay for that time.
There are many resources across the web for finding pergola plans. I typically link folks to this article by Popular Mechanics to give folks a starting point.
Choose An Off-Season
The period of time between Christmas and Spring is a slow time of year of many contractors. If you approach them during this off-season, a couple of things will happen.
First, you might be able to save 5%-30% on labor costs compared to the peak time of year. When the total cost of the project approaches $5000, this is a huge chunk of change.
Secondly, it’s possible that you’ll get better service from the contractor you choose. Fewer clients mean the contractor is more available to meet with you and answer your questions. It also means that they’ll be less divided between projects and can adequately give yours the attention it deserves.
Is It Cheaper To Buy Or Build?
If you have a short memory, you can review the table I included at the top of the article. In almost all situations it’s cheaper to build a pergola from scratch.
The low DIY material cost means that you’re only out time. And to be honest, it would only take someone a weekend to get it erected. Perhaps a single day if they had a buddy help.
However, it may be cheaper to hire a contractor than to purchase some of the more expensive pergola kits. The designer kits can cost an arm and a leg. In this situation, I’d just find a contractor and tell them you wanted a pergola built like the one on the kit.
With all of that being said, I recommend you try to build it yourself if you’re able. It’s easier than people think, and I’ll be posting a how-to article in the near future.
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