AS AUSTRALIANS, we love spending time outdoors. But in summer, when we’re not at the beach, the blistering sun can often confine us inside our homes.
The solution? It’s time to build a pergola.
Whether you have a home with a gorgeous outdoor room that you want to extend, or you have a beautiful new home on your block but not much else, a pergola is one of the most attractive ways to maximise outdoor coastal living.
It increases the floor space and value of your home, is low maintenance, and best of all doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Originating in 17th Century Italy, traditionally pergolas were an open structure with an open roof. However, the concept of a pergola has since evolved to include semi-enclosures and roofing.
“In a recent questionnaire made available to all Metricon website visitors, outdoor entertaining rated very highly for people building coastally,” said Jeff Telford, Metricon’s Gippsland regional manager.
“Sixty per cent of respondents said that outdoor entertaining is a key consideration for home design, which explains why outdoor rooms are a popular choice with our customers in coastal areas,” Telford said.
The first thing is to identify the best location for your pergola. As it provides both privacy and relief from the sun, choose a place that’s open and not already shaded.
It’s also important to take into account the drainage of the site: no one wants an undercover area that turns into a lake when it rains.
Lighting is also a key consideration: a north-facing pergola will catch the sun all year round whilst a south-facing one will probably need a transparent roof to let the light in.
The perfect pergola should lead to a patio, courtyard, pool or barbecue area – exactly where you’ll be spending your time on long summer days.
The size and design of your pergola will depend on your budget and whether you want to use it primarily in summer or all year-round.
A simple timber pergola consists of vertical pillars that support cross-beams and rafters.
If you’re a fairly confident builder you can even construct one yourself, perhaps using steel, aluminium or concrete columns.
If building isn’t your thing, but you still want to DIY, you can assemble one using a pergola kit.
Otherwise, hiring an expert is a reliable option and a great way to support local trades in your area.
Be aware that some structures require a building permit, so check with your council first about local regulations.
When it comes to shading materials, there are many options. Simple battens; shade cloths; vines or climbers to add greenery; translucent polycarbonate which stops the rain getting through to anything underneath but still allows UV natural light to filter through; a roof made of Colorbond or other metal roofing material; decorative screens used as roofing.
There are countless possibilities with a pergola, but one certainty: it’s sure to improve your summer!