The first thing you ought to do when planning your pergola is call your building department and ask them if the pergola requires a permit.
Building Department and Home Owners Association Considerations
In many cases, a pergola under 200 sf will not require a building permit. But, it depends on your jurisdiction. If you live in Florida, you’ll need to get a permit and have the project engineered by a structural engineer. (I work regularly with an engineering firm licensed in all 50 states. If you need this service just drop an email).
This is for your safety, the last thing you want is a flimsy pergola flying through your yard in a hurricane.
If you happen to live in a home owners association they may have architectural requirements, outside of the building department. So, be sure to call the main office. Many times, they want certain colors, materials, etc. and you’ll have to work to their specs. (I can alter the stock plans on FATSTICK.com to meet these needs if you are interested).
After you have determined if your project will require permits or an architectural plans review, you can get started with the fun part – design. This post is meant for those who want to design their own pergola, and for those that may wish to purchase the plans offered on FATSTICK.com.