Do Pergola Kits Save You Money?

Shading your yard with a pergola is priceless, but hiring a contractor to build a custom design has a hefty cost—in the thousands. Here are three reasons to opt for a pergola kit.

Pergolas kits claim to help you build your dream backyard at an affordable price. With a pergola, you can lounge in the shade and use your outdoor space more often. Pergolas are particularly coveted in places with harsh desert climates or tropical temperatures where the blistering sun can be unsafe for kids and adults alike.

But while the value of shading your yard or pool might be priceless, hiring a contractor to build a custom pergola will have a hefty price tag—in the thousands. So, for handy homeowners, it's worthwhile to get a pergola kit and build your own.

backyard pergola
Bob Stefko

What is a pergola kit?

A pergola kit includes all of the pre-cut, -notched, and -drilled wood, vinyl, and other hardware needed to assemble and secure the structure. Some kits provide pre-dyed wood, while others require additional steps to process and dye the wood prior to assembly. Assembly and installation instructions are included, but the quality may vary. Customer reviews are useful tools to gauge whether pergola kit instructions are straightforward or too confusing to follow.

Whether you're looking to get the best aluminum, vinyl, or a custom wood construction, the real question is: Does doing it yourself really save money? Here are three reasons why the answer to that question is more than likely yes.

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Kits are cheaper than a professional install.

Typical prices for pergola installation range from $ 2,200 to $5,900, depending on the size, materials, accessories, and installation method. However, custom designs could be much closer to $10,000—costs that rival upgrading an entire bathroom or buying a compact car. Materials are often the largest portion of the cost.

That said, DIYers can save big bucks on labor costs for a pergola project by buying a kit for less than $1,000 and building it themselves. If there are competing demands on household funds, a kit could make financing this outdoor upgrade more realistic. Plus, the current demand for skilled labor could slow down your ideal timeline for setup; in such cases, doing it yourself could be your best bet. The only tradeoff is your time.

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Safe access to outdoor time is invaluable.

Who doesn't want to spend more time outdoors? If you're an avid viewer of design shows or a Pinterest enthusiast, you've seen the pergola trend growing not only in warmer climates, but also in northern states. Pergolas are designed to enhance the enjoyment and comfort of outdoor living spaces, including decks, patios, and porches. The open-roof grid structure can be placed anywhere—even over an edible garden or attached to a well-built garage.

From improved moods to better absorption of vitamin D, there's significant value to added yard time. And especially for settled homeowners who have no intention of moving, the long-term comfort and wellness benefits of installing an affordable pergola are well worth the upfront investment.

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A pergola can make your home more appealing for buyers.

With outdoor spaces a top priority for potential home buyers, homeowners likely wonder, "Can a pergola add value to my home?" Pergolas can indeed increase the market value of homes with large outdoor spaces and limited natural shading, but there's certainly no guarantee.

For the right buyer, a shaded pool or yard could be a key differentiator when deciding between similarly designed and located homes. And, for some, the added privacy is worth a premium.

The better made and sturdier the materials, the more impressive the structure, the more compelling your pergola—and your home—will be for the right buyer.

Whether a kit will really save you money depends on you.

Professionally crafted and installed pergolas are expensive because they are customized structures designed to last a long time. If you choose the wrong one or get lost in the DIY, that could be money down the drain. Building a perfect pergola requires ample time and exact measurements.

Plus, proper installation will prolong the life of the structure. If attaching it to your home, the rule of thumb is to attach it to the studs; this means measuring how far apart studs are when calculating the size of the kit and placing them just right. Also, choose materials that can weather the climate in your region; prepare for wind, rain, and (of course) sun. Lastly, installation isn't a one-person job. Prepare a team of handy people to volunteer to lift, lug, and hold ladders throughout the process. Don't skimp on safety gear, and don't rush the details.

If you can get all these factors correct, then the savings are clear. Mess up the small details, however, and this DIY project could be doing nothing more than delaying that costly call to the professionals.

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