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5 Factors to Consider When Attaching a Pergola to a House

You're looking to attach a pergola to your home, and for good reason. Adding an outdoor area enlarges the footprint of your house, increasing the amount of usable space. It lets you enjoy the great outdoors and enhances your ability to host. And the value your pergola adds to your home can be many times the cost of erecting it.

The 'why' is compelling - you can read more about pergola benefits here - so in this guide we'll instead focus on the 'how'. If you're connecting your pergola to your home or an existing structure, what do you need to consider?

Here are five key factors that should be front of mind when you build a pergola or outdoor space that is connected to your home.

1. The structural integrity of your house

When you attach pergolas and patios to an existing structure, that structure will usually need to support an additional load. The maximum size of that load, and therefore the design of the pergola, will depend on the structural integrity and load-bearing capacity of the attachment point on your home.

It's wise to consult a professional like a structural engineer to check that your home has the necessary load-bearing capacity to comfortably support the additional weight of a pergola. An engineer will factor in all the necessary considerations, including snow loads if you're in a snowy area.

Limited load-bearing capacities may see them guide you to better attachment points or a different pergola design, like a freestanding pergola, which you can still connect to your home's structure, while removing the need for the home to do any heavy lifting.

2. The pergola mounting or attachment method

How exactly do you plan to connect the pergola to your house? There are two main attachment methods:

  • Ledger boards: This horizontal board is secured to the outer wall or roof rafter of your home. It forms the pergola mounting, with the outdoor structure's rafters connecting straight onto the board.
  • Roof risers and beams: This attachment method elevates the pergola roof above the roof and gutters of your home. The roof risers are usually installed on the top of your home's outer walls, and hold a beam that forms the connection point for the pergola rafters.

You'll need to select fasteners and brackets designed for your specific wall type - wood, masonry, concrete - to create a secure and durable connection. You should also install flashing above the ledger board or between the roof risers, waterproofing with caulk and sealants to prevent water from infiltrating your home or outdoor area.

3. The building materials and design

You can build your pergola out of a number of different materials, including timber, aluminium, steel and vinyl. For a pergola attached to the house, there are a few things you should think about when deciding which material to go with.

Compatibility

Certain pergola materials and designs may be more or less compatible with your home. One key consideration is weight - a lightweight, timber-framed home may struggle to hold a large pergola made of heavy steel beams. You'll also need to choose the correct fasteners and anchors, and adapt your flashing and waterproofing methods to the materials you're working with.

Budget

When setting your budget, consider the cost of the pergola over the lifetime of the structure. A wood pergola will usually be the cheapest option, but it will also require the most maintenance and usually won't last as long as your other options. A high quality pergola is an investment that can pay itself back over time through lower maintenance and longevity.

Functionality

High quality pergolas, like the Johnson & Couzins SkyLouvre System, also offer far greater functionality. SkyLouvres allow you to open the roof and walls of your pergola on good days, and close them when night falls or the weather turns, creating a true outdoor room. Other functionality considerations include whether you'll use your pergola for entertaining, relaxation, cooking, dining or family fun.

Aesthetics

The more beautiful your outdoor space, the more value it will add to your property. The perfect pergola will therefore pair form with function. While timber offers a classic, organic, rustic look, it is high maintenance and doesn't last forever. Aluminium, meanwhile, is beautiful and built to last, which is why it's the pergola material of choice here at Johnson & Couzins.

4. Building regulations and legal requirements

What rules and regulations do you need to abide by? Rules change from council to council in New Zealand, so you'll need to get in touch with your local authority to understand your responsibilities when installing a pergola.

Check the building codes and secure all the necessary permits before you start the project. Make sure the pergola does not encroach on your neighbour's property, including overhang, and is built the required distance away from the border of your property.

5. DIY pergola vs professionally installed

Constructing a DIY pergola can be an effective way to save cash. But you need to be prepared for the amount of work it will take, and the savings can become somewhat less enticing when you factor in your time and effort. It's a tough, multi-person job that requires a decent level of knowledge and skills.

Choosing professionally installation, meanwhile, ensures you end up with a beautiful, functional, well-built pergola that abides by all rules and regulations, and that attaches to and complements your home.

And if you're looking for the finest professionally-installed pergolas in New Zealand, you've found them.

Johnson & Couzins: NZ’s ultimate pergolas

At Johnson & Couzins we are the go-to brand for high-end pergolas in NZ. Our retractable pergolas represent the pinnacle in quality, beauty and functionality, and are designed to instantly transform any property that they are added to.

We can guide you through all of the considerations listed above, to ensure that you end up with an outdoor area that does everything you need it to, that looks incredible, that lasts the distance, and that adds real value to your home and your lifestyle.

Interested in enhancing your home with a retractable pergola? Our friendly team is ready to help. Contact us today.

FAQs

What are the most common mistakes when attaching a pergola to a structure?

A few mistakes that you should work to avoid while adding a pergola to your home include:

  • Failing to check the structural integrity of the attachment point.
  • Using inadequate or incompatible fasteners, anchors and attachment methods.
  • Not checking regulatory and permit responsibilities with your local council.
  • Neglecting to install flashing and waterproofing (leading to water damage).

When you choose Johnson & Couzins as your pergola builder, you can be confident that we'll build your structure by the book.

Can a pergola be attached to any type of house siding?

Yes, a pergola can be connected to the side of pretty much any home, but the attachment method may vary, and the pergola may need to be designed to be freestanding if there are questions around the ability of the house siding to bear loads.

What are the legal requirements for attaching a pergola to an existing building?

In New Zealand the rules and regulations around building pergolas are set by councils, so you'll need to speak to your local authorities to understand your responsibilities and any permits you may need to secure. When you work with a professional builder like Johnson & Couzins we take care of all this red tape for you.

How do I ensure my pergola is waterproof where it attaches to the house?

Flashing and waterproofing is a critical yet underrated aspect of pergola design. It stops rain from squeezing through gaps and into the pergola, and it stops moisture damage by channelling water away from key parts of your home and pergola. To ensure your structure is water tight, you should:

  • Install flashing above the ledger board to divert water away from the attachment point.
  • Use high-quality caulk and sealants around the attachment area.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the flashing and waterproofing to stop leak developing.

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