Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Pergola?

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Posted 07/12/21 7:45am by Prim

Pergolas are simple but elegant wooden or metal structures that can transform a garden into a beautiful sheltered space. They come in all sizes and one of the great things about them is that you can easily paint and otherwise customize them to suit a space.

There are several ways to acquire a pergola. You could build one yourself or you could buy one ready-made. It may also be possible to hire a contractor to build your pergola for you. Here we will explore which method is cheapest.

Building Your Own Pergola

Building a pergola isn’t always as simple as buying the materials and putting them together. You need to consider whether or not you have the right tools to complete the project. You also need to factor in your DIY skills and whether or not you need to employ the services of a handyman or construction expert.

Both tools and expertise cost money. If you have neither, then it won’t be cheaper to build a pergola than to buy one.

Using Quality Materials to Build

Let’s assume that you already have the tools and are skilled enough at DIY to get the job done. The raw materials will work out a lot cheaper than buying a ready-made pergola.

It’s a false economy, though, to build anything using inferior materials. It will be cheaper initially, but the structure is unlikely to last longer than a couple of years unless you use quality materials. For example, pressure-treated cedar is a great option for a pergola.

  • To DIY your own pergola using quality wood will set you back around $400-$500

DIY Pergola Kits Are An Option

A DIY pergola kit will contain all the necessary pieces precut and treated, all the fixtures and fittings, and instructions on how to construct the pergola. This is more straightforward than cutting the pieces yourself, especially if you lack the right tools to do so. A DIY kit can also save you construction time and is especially useful if you lack in the DIY skills department.

All these plus points come at a price, though, so this option isn’t as cheap as making one from scratch.

  • To purchase a pergola kit, you are looking at $500-$1,000

Buying a Pergola

The easiest of all options, buying a ready-made pergola will get you what you want with the least amount of effort. However, it should go without saying that this is also potentially by far the most expensive choice.

You can bring costs down by selecting a cheaper material. Wood is the most expensive. Aluminum or vinyl are the lowest in price. Here are the averages for each material type:

  • Alumawood (wood-effect painted aluminum): $1,500
  • Aluminum or vinyl: $2,000
  • Wood – depends on the wood but ranges from $2,500 – $6,000
  • Fiberglass: $6,000

The material you opt for comes down to personal preference. Many people enjoy wooden pergolas because they blend into the natural environment. However, other materials may not look as good but will be more durable.

Getting A Contractor To Do the Job

Paying a professional to do the job piles on the costs. But, employing the services of a contractor can be worthwhile, especially for people wanting an extra-large or unusually-shaped pergola. These kinds of pergolas require special skills to build. Typically, you’ll only find standard-sized and shaped options in stores. If you want a one-of-a-kind pergola, paying someone can be well worth the investment.

  • To hire a contractor, you’ll pay $1,500 upwards plus the cost of materials.
  • The average total cost of hiring a contractor for a ready-made pergola is around $3,500

The Bottom Line on Building or Buying a Pergola

It’s always going to be cheaper to purchase the raw materials and build your own pergola from scratch, but you’ll be sacrificing time and convenience. The higher in price you go for ready-made options, the more time you’ll save. Ultimately, your choice comes down to what’s more important to you – money or convenience?

If you go down the ready-made or kit route, it pays to wait for sales or a deal. Often, in the colder months, outdoor structures are sold at a discount because it’s not the right season for them. The end of summer is also a big sale time for outdoor products.

Also think about looking for ex-display options. These are structures that have been displayed on the shop floor. They may have a few scratches or dents, but the slash in the price may more than make up for any cosmetic imperfections.

Keep a close eye on the deal sites too. It’s often the case that flash sales and end-of-line clearance products will give you some of the best prices on pergolas.

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