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Blog Post

What You Need to Know Before Building a Pergola

December 1, 2023

A pergola can be a fine addition that brightens the Australian landscape and offers homeowners a welcoming, elegant retreat.

Before getting started, it’s essential to learn about the country’s rules and guidelines. Here, we will outline what property owners should know when building pergolas Down Under.

Council Approvals and Regulations

Two of the most vital aspects of pergola construction in the Australian Capital Territory are getting council approval and learning local rules. Every council has specific guidelines on pergola location, size, and height. Before bringing out the tool kit, check with your council to obtain permits and ensure building code compliance.

Design and Site Selection

Choosing the best location for a pergola is essential to its aesthetic appeal and function. When selecting a site, consider factors like prevailing winds, proximity to other structures, and sun position. 

Additionally, think of the pergola’s purpose—whether it’s for relaxing, dining, or entertaining. A well-planned design that fits your lifestyle and complements the home’s architecture will enhance the project’s success.


The Australian climate varies from one location to another, and property owners must choose pergola materials carefully.

Hardwoods like Merbau and treated pine are popular choices because of their pest resistance and durability, while aluminum and steel offer a modern look.

When selecting materials for a pergola, consider maintenance requirements, longevity, and aesthetics.

Construction Methods

The way a pergola is built depends on factors like local regulations, size, and design. Some pergolas are attached to other structures, while others are freestanding.

A standalone pergola offers greater design flexibility and can be positioned for a better view, but an attached pergola provides a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living areas. Choose construction methods that suit your preferences and property layout.

Height and Size

The height and size of a pergola should suit the space’s intended purpose as well as the home’s proportions. A too-small pergola will feel tight and uncomfortable, while a larger one may overpower a small outdoor space. As you’re planning a pergola project, be sure to check the council’s height and size limits.


Australia’s weather can be unpredictable, and property owners should consider that when building pergolas. Retractable awnings, sun- and rain-resistant roofing, and shade cloths enhance these structures’ functionality and protect furnishings from the elements.

Professional Help

While an experienced DIYer can build their own pergola, it’s best to seek professional help if you’re unfamiliar with council rules and construction requirements. A local builder can help you through the process, ensure regulatory compliance, and offer crucial insights into building materials and techniques.


Before building a pergola, you’ll need to set a budget for the project. Consider costs like permits, materials, additional features, and labor (if hiring professionals). Setting a realistic budget helps property owners make better decisions and prevents costly surprises.


Proper maintenance preserves the appearance and longevity of a pergola, and different materials require varying care levels.

Wooden structures, for instance, may need periodic sealing or staining to protect against Australia’s harsh rain and sun. When selecting materials for a pergola, consider their ongoing maintenance needs.

Accessories and Lighting

The right accessories and lighting can enhance a pergola’s ambiance. Lanterns, fairy lights, and LED fixtures will create a cozy, inviting atmosphere for nighttime entertainment, while a fire pit and outdoor furniture will make your pergola a year-round gathering spot.

Adding Personal Touches

Once you’ve addressed the pergola’s structural aspects, consider personalising it by adding features like climbing plants. Vines such as jasmine and bougainvillea do well in Australia’s temperate climate, and they enhance a pergola’s aesthetic appeal with their natural beauty.

Consider These Factors for a Successful Pergola Project

When Australians build pergolas, they extend their living spaces into the outdoors while creating havens for entertainment and relaxation.

By considering council regulations, choosing the right materials and construction methods, and planning for the local climate, you can ensure the enjoyability and success of your project. 

Pergolas may seem simple, but various elements must be included to ensure long-term stability and viability. With careful preparation and attention to detail, a pergola can become a stylish, seamless extension of your home that adds charm, versatility, and value to the outdoor living experience.

Contact the team at Elevated Concepts to bring your pergola plans to life.