Build or Buy: What’s the Cheaper Option For a Pergola?

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Patio & Yard


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A pergola is a great addition to any backyard. It provides a shady location to chill out and breathe in the outdoor air. There are two ways of installing a pergola; you can either build it yourself or buy one that’s prefabricated. But is it cheaper to build or buy a pergola?

It’s cheaper to build a pergola yourself. In many cases, creating a DIY pergola will cost between $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the type of material you choose. If you use a kit, you could be paying between $1,300 to $8,000, depending on the size of the pergola. 

The good news is that there are multiple ways of getting an excellent pergola. You should be able to find something to suit your budget. Let’s take a closer look at pergola building and buying to find the right approach for you. 

How Much Does Building a Pergola Cost? 

Building a pergola will typically cost between $1,000 to $2,000. The type of materials you choose will have the biggest impact. Aluminum is the cheapest, costing between $10 to $30 per square foot, while fiberglass is the most expensive at over $60 a square foot. 

You might want to build the pergola yourself. Let’s break down the costs involved with this DIY approach. 

First, you will need to purchase the construction materials. There are a few ways you can do this. You might opt to purchase a kit instead when building a pergola. We’ll discuss the costs of this in the next section.

Alternatively, you can purchase the materials at the local hardware store which can have a lower cost overall if you know exactly what you need, otherwise a few poor purchases and this could be much more expensive.

If you want to build a basic pergola, you’ll just need some simple supplies, starting with sturdy posts set into the ground with concrete and strong, sturdy beams for a roof. Many also choose to include stone pavers for the floor to get a higher-end look and feel. 

There are several materials, each with a slightly different price tag. Here are some rough estimates: 

  • Aluminum. This is frequently the cheaper option. You can expect to pay $10 to $30 per square foot. But high-end options like this Gardesol Louvered Aluminum Pergola are perfect for a more modern look.
  • Pine. This will cost around $25 per square foot. 
  • Cedar. This is slightly more expensive than pine, costing approximately $30 per square foot. Here is a quality option from Backyard Discovery.
  • Fiberglass. This is the most expensive option. It will cost over $60 per square foot.

Depending on the type of materials you are using, you should be able to build a pergola yourself for $1,000 to $2,000

If you want, you can attach the pergola to the house. This will eliminate the need for two posts, helping you save money on the material costs. 

You can save money by hiring a construction company using a DIY approach. However, you might want to call in a professional to help you through a difficult phase in the project, like laying the stone floor.

Thankfully, this is a fairly simple project. You should be able to master the basics with a few YouTube tutorials. 

Here are some additional costs that you might have to factor in:

  • Transportation costs. Some hardware stores will help arrange transport and deliver materials for a fee. At other times, you will need to arrange transport yourself. A trailer will cost you around $20 a day. 
  • Post-hole digger. You’ll need to dig out the holes for your poles. You can do this yourself with a shovel. But it’s usually easier to hire a post-hole digger for a few hours. You can expect to pay between $60 to $100 daily to rent one of these machines. 
Pergola made from grey metal

How Much Does Buying A Pergola Cost? 

It can cost between $1,100 to $8,000 to purchase a pergola kit, depending on the size and material. Most will come in at under $2,000. If you want a professional builder to create and install a customized pergola, it can cost up to $10,000. 

There are two ways that you can build your pergola. First, you might want to purchase a pergola kit and install it yourself.

Second, you can hire a construction company and get them to create the pergola for you. These will have slightly different costs. 

Purchasing A Pergola Kit 

You might want to buy a pergola kit. This contains all the materials you need to construct a pergola.

There are a few types of materials that you can use:

  • Aluminum is the cheapest and will be relatively easy and faster to install.
  • Wood is the most traditional and will have the most aesthetic appeal to the broadest group of people.
  • Fiberglass is the most expensive option but also one of the longest-lasting choices. 

In most cases, you can get one of these kits built for between $1,100 to $8,000. Most will be toward the lower end of the scale, coming in at under $2,000. 

In this case, the cost of your pergola will determine how much you can expect to pay. Here are some estimates to work from: 

  • 12 feet by 12 feet. This tends to cost between $1,700 to $5000. 
  • 16 feet by 16 feet. You can expect to pay between $4,500 to $8,000
  • 20 feet by 20 feet. These will cost between $6,000 to $10,000

Using A Construction Company

A professional construction company will be the most expensive option, but this might be the best choice if you want a custom design. Plus, they’ll be able to take care of the council permits for you

If you take this approach, you will end up paying for labor. In many cases, this will be between $125 to $500. But these costs can quickly increase for a complex project. 

Because of this, it’s not unusual for a custom-made pergola to cost up to $10,000

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Is It Best to Build Or Buy A Pergola? 

Building a pergola is better if you are focused on saving money and have some construction experience. But buying a pre-made kit offers more convenience and doesn’t require as many tools.  Though kits come in various designs, the building will provide more customization. 

As we’ve seen, there is a big difference in the costs of building from raw materials versus buying a pergola kit or turning to a professional builder.

Here are some of the other elements that you should consider when deciding whether to buy or build: 

  • Building takes more time. If you opt to build, you will need to measure and cut all the materials yourself. Depending on the complexity of the build, this can add a few hours of construction time. Plus, it can help to have some DIY experience. 
  • Pergola kits come in a range of designs. Building a pergola will offer more customizability. However, many kits also come in a huge range of designs, making it easy to find something that suits your style. 
  • Building requires specialized tools. Building a pergola is a fairly simple task. But it will require special tools, like a saw cutting through thick wooden blocks. It will likely cost a few thousand dollars to purchase these tools. 

What Are the Cost Differences Between Building and Buying a Pergola, and Can I Customize It to Join Two Together?

When considering the cost differences between building and buying a pergola, joining two pergolas together and why may impact the decision. Building allows for more customization but comes with higher labor and material costs. Buying may be more affordable, but customizing to join two together can still be an option.

Final Thoughts

A pergola is a great fit in any outdoor space. The good news is that it can be constructed on any budget. You’ll have to get the raw materials and build them if money is tight.

If you have a little more money, buying a kit or hiring a builder will be more convenient options.