5 minutes to read

Do you need a permit to build a pergola?

A pergola is an incredible structure for the enjoyment of outdoor living. Pergolas are a practical and attractive method of covering walkways, patios, and decks for residential properties. As well, many restaurants give off a more desirable ambiance when there is a pergola for outdoor restaurant dining available. However, do you need a permit to build a pergola?

Yes, it is wise to seek a permit before erecting a pergola, even if it is on private property. While permits may be not always be required for small pergolas and patio covers, it is important to check with your township first to confirm. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of permits, building codes, and adhering to local laws when building a pergola.

Download our inspirational brochure

Stay Legal

In most cases, a pergola will be a freestanding structure on your property. Small homeowners may desire a pergola in their backyard or the front of their property. Owners of an apartment complex may want a pergola over the entrance of a building or on a rooftop. Restaurants have a more upscale vibe that attracts customers when there is a stylish pergola outside. You will require permits for patio restaurant dining with a pergola overhead.
Even if the land on which a property stands is owned by the person initiating pergola construction, it must comply with local laws. Be aware; there are no building codes for specific states, including but not limited to Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, and Michigan. It is still best to secure a permit even if a pergola is freestanding or it is a pergola attached to your house or another building. Contact your local council and building inspector for more information.
Many modern luxury pergolas can be outfitted with a heating source or cover a pool or jacuzzi connected to plumbing. A permit provides a source of construction documentation per local laws and regulations. If a pergola will be in close contact with a heating element or plumbing, lawful approval is necessary. Consider the risks of a pergola and fire hazards like a grill placed underneath. Safety is paramount when constructing a structure for recreation or habitation alike.

Be Prepared

There are lots of benefits of having a pergola in your garden. It would be frustrating if you had to halt working on your pergola because of a lack of a permit. Also, a property or business owner may risk incurring extra costs if a pergola must be removed, re-installed, or isn’t up to code. Investing in a pergola patio cover, outdoor restaurant dining, and outdoor recreational spaces is a long term solution to provide additional living or dining space.
Ascertaining a permit for your pergola is a form of protection for a business or property owner’s interests. Permits reassure neighbors and any interested parties concerned about a pergola build.  If you are part of a homeowner’s association, you must check with them on the current guidelines for outdoor living and structures.
Also, a permit can be required whether a pergola is to be attached to an existing structure, or it is so many feet from the front of a property or entrance. Consider if additional work may need to take place on a property to accommodate erecting a pergola with a louvered roof. If the addition of a structure will radically alter a property, street, or a protected historic area, one should seek a permit.
Depending on the type of pergola construction, the level it sits upon may need adjusting. In some events, a building might need to have elements relocated. If a pergola is adjacent to a building, or needs any adjustments in the foreseeable future, a permit is essential.

Secure A Permit

Before building a pergola, always check to make sure if a permit is needed for your outdoor living project. In some cases, it is vital to submit building plans to your local county, city, or town that a certified engineer vets. Before beginning construction, the plans for a pergola design may need to be approved by the government per zoning laws, safety requirements, and any enforced regulations.
Staying in compliance with local agencies is key to erecting and enjoying a safe, stable, beautiful pergola, patio or terrace cover. Refer to the laws of your local county and municipalities in comparison to state law. Typically, you can find a checklist of who you need to contact and what is required to ensure your construction gets a permit on their website.
If a pergola is freestanding on an open area of undeveloped grass or concrete, you may not need a permit to build. Also, pergolas that are relatively small in size may not require a permit. However, err on the side of caution and contact your local city, town, and state authorities to make sure.

Building Codes

It is better to be safe than sorry and get a permit before building a pergola. Know before you start construction. Visit or call your local building inspector or local government agency with any questions or concerns. Pergolas often have an open roof style. However, trending pergolas may have a retractable roof. Keep in mind any regulations, zoning laws, historical aesthetic enforcement, fire codes, and more.
For dining establishments, structures like a pergola or patio cover for outdoor restaurant dining may be limited to a height of no more than 12 feet off of the ground. There may be regulations regarding the distance between the pergola and another structure, distance between the posts, beams, and foundation depth for a pergola. The materials used to build a pergola may come under scrutiny. As pergolas are usually permanent structures, permits will be needed to cover any necessary work.
If you hire a contractor, they will most likely handle permit approval for your outdoor living or dining space, whether residential or commercial. The price for a building permit may fall between .50% to 2.00% of the total construction cost. However, you may pay fees up to 10% of the total estimated construction cost in case of local regulations.


Breaking ground on a new construction project is always an exciting venture. Outdoor living spaces are trending and resilient structures that raises the aesthetic value of a property. As outdoor living becomes a must-have feature for private homes, vacation properties, and luxury rentals, having a permit before erecting this structure is critical.
As well, today, it is crucial for restaurants to offer outdoor dining spaces, with structures that can shelter the patrons from the elements, depending on the weather. Understanding the requirements for a permit will allow for allow for your project to move forward.
When you are looking for innovative, high-quality pergola designs to beautify your space and enjoy outdoor recreational areas, trust a company with a century of experience. Pergolas