As with all home improvement projects, it is important to find out if a permit is needed prior to starting the job. Factors such as size, span, and whether or not the pergola will be free-standing or attached to an existing structure will determine whether a permit is necessary. But, in general, it is most likely that you will need a permit to install a pergola.

Why Do I Need a Permit?

The permitting process exists to protect you and your investment. Cutting corners or thinking your project is a “no brainer” will only lead to headaches down the road. If you erect your pergola without a permit and it falls down, you may be out more than the cost of materials. You could end up in a lawsuit, or someone could be seriously injured. And, if you get away with putting up a pergola without a permit, you will eventually be found out when you try to sell your home, resulting in a complete tear down or pergola replacement, which could affect the house sale.

Where Do I Get a Permit?

There are city, county, and state regulations that govern when a permit is needed. Start with your city agency, since the guidelines will be specific to the city where you will be installing your pergola. If no such regulations exist, then look at your county requirements. A City or County Building Department should be able to provide guidance. If getting a permit sounds too complicated, keep in mind that when working with a professional pergola company that installs its own products, they will help obtain the correct permit so you don’t have to. Which leads us to another question, “What Kind of Pergola Should I Get?”

It’s Not Just About Cost

Many people view the idea of creating a covered patio as a DIY project. While it can be, you need to understand your options before breaking out the power tools. While you can search big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s and find any number of pergola options, once you make a purchase, it will be your responsibility to either install it yourself or find a contractor who can do it. The product pricing may seem reasonable at first glance, but when you factor in the permit and a contractor, and how you will anchor your pergola to a surface, the numbers start adding up. However, it’s not only cost that you should consider. Is the pergola made of a material that won’t rot or warp, a material that will stand up to all types of weather? Are the overhead slats stationary, or can they pivot for maximum functionality? If the louvers can close, is there a gutter system that can channel rainwater off the pergola? Are you investing in a smart pergola? The answers to these questions may reveal that you might be getting the cheapest pergola, but not a quality pergola, which means you will have high maintenance and/or replacement costs.

It’s like the designer handbag versus it’s knock-off counterpart. A particular low cost pergola may resemble a much more expensive pergola brand, but when you look more closely at the materials, craftsmanship, and long-term functionality, the knock-off is not the great deal you thought you were getting. It won’t retain its value, it will lack the nuances that allow it to perform for decades, and it certainly will not be a smart pergola.

A Case for the Smart Pergola

Before you zero in on a pergola that you’ve seen at one of the previously-mentioned stores or on a website like, understand that there is a pergola that outperforms the rest. We’re talking about the smart pergola. What is a smart pergola? It’s a high-quality pergola with pivoting louvers that can be controlled via technology, including sensors, apps and voice activation. It’s smart, because it can do the thinking for you. Sensors can pick up changes in weather and open or close the louvers to protect your system and whatever you’ve placed under it. It’s a smart pergola, because it can hear your voice commands and respond accordingly. Turn on lights or fans, activate screens, and, of course, change the louver positioning just by asking. Yes, the smart pergola from StruXure does require a permit, but it will be custom designed to fit your space and your needs, and it will outlast and outperform any other pergola on the market.

So, while the question of whether or not a permit is necessary when installing a pergola has been answered, the question that needs to be resolved is “What kind of pergola will provide me with the best value?”

For more information about the smart pergola by StruXure, please go to