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Australians love to be outdoors, and our weather makes living outdoors enjoyable. Adding a pergola to the side of your house will maximise your living space and enable you to enjoy the outdoors. A pergola helps to blend the inside of the house with the outdoors, and creates the illusion of adding on an extra room. It provides shade from the heat of the day, or shelter from rain. This is not only important for when you are sitting under it, but it also protects any furniture or equipment such as a barbeque from the elements.

A pergola can be made out of a variety of materials. Timber or steel are commonly used for framing, while the roof can be made from timber, colourbond steel , clear polycarbonate sheeting, thatch, shade cloth, roof tiles or lattice. Lattice can be covered in climbing plants to provide a natural garden roof.

One common type is the box pergola, made from timber, with battens fixed across rafters to hold shade cloth or plants. If you are handy with timber, then this is a basic structure you may consider building yourself.

Pergolas should be situated on the north side of the house to gain the most exposure to the sun. However, pergolas do not need to be attached to the side of the house, they may be freestanding. This is useful if the area around the house is unsuitable for a pergola, or already has a verandah or garden bed. Freestanding pergolas can be the perfect shelter or shade solution next to the pool or spa, and provide a great poolside barbeque area.

Some considerations for pergolas include guttering. Guttering may have to be taken off the side of the house if a pergola is to be fixed onto it. Guttering may also need to be attached to the pergola to ensure that rainwater does not accumulate in a pool on the ground around it.

Another consideration is size. If the pergola needs to be big enough to shelter a barbeque and your outdoor furniture, then perhaps you should set out the furniture in the planned area, to see how much space it will take up. If you want to provide sun protection for kids play equipment, then similarly set up the equipment to see how much room you will need. This general rule of thumb will ensure you gain some idea about what size the pergola should be, and whether you have the space to build it.

When planning to build a pergola, check with your local council about whether you need to submit at DA or not. This may vary from state to state, and even within states. Different rules may apply depending on the type or size of the pergola so if in doubt, seek approval from the council before you start.

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