Frost depth is the level to which the ground in your area freezes each year. When you insert the support beams of your pergola into the soil in your backyard, you need to make sure you get below the frost level. If a beam sits well up in the frost zone, all the freezing and thawing that occurs each winter will push the beams up and out of their holes and destroy the structure. You can verify your region’s frost depth by checking with your local building authority.

When you’re on the phone with your local building authority, take the time to also check if you need a special permit for this project. It is not likely, as pergolas are not technically finished structures, but you will very likely need a permit if you plan to use electricity in your pergola to power accessories such as lights and fans. However, you can avoid permits for electrical work by using accessories with low-voltage objects outdoors. If you live in an HOA, make sure you check with your board that building a pergola is acceptable.

You’ll also want to reach out to your local tools before building a pergola. Many backyard do-it-yourselfers have started digging in the ground only to run into gas or electrical lines. This can be dangerous and expensive to fix, so make sure you check with the power companies in your area first. They come out and mark all the lines in your yard to prevent an accident from happening.

Today, pergolas are available in cedar, redwood, pressed pine and other types of wood. Although pine may be the most cost-effective, it is also the least attractive wood. Cedar and redwood are both radiant and beautiful woods, in addition to being rot and insect resistant. Redwood and ipe come at a much higher price, but are considered very elegant woods used in modern architecture. If you’re looking for the best value, western red cedar delivers a stylish and cost-effective solution. Ultimately, the factors you should consider when choosing wood for your pergola include your environment’s humidity and temperature fluctuations, the insects in your region, and your budget.

There are also alternative materials you can consider in a pergola kit. Pre-assembled pergola kits today can come in aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass, giving consumers a stylish and practical way to build a pergola.