Do I Need a Permit to Build a Pergola?

Are you intending to add a beautiful pergola to your outdoor space?

Before breaking ground on your construction project, it's important to know whether you need a permit to build it.

Failure to obtain the correct permits and follow local building codes could result in fines and even the removal of your newly built structure.

So, let's explore do you need a permit for a pergola and what are essential things to know in 2024.

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Pergola

Building Permits for Outdoor Structures

First of all, what exactly is a building permit?

A building permit is a piece of paper that lets you start making something. It makes sure that the building meets minimum safety and building code standards.

So, do I need a permit to build a pergola?

Pergola permits are at the discretion of each county and individual municipality.

We estimate that 80 percent of our clients across the country do not need a permit for a pergola, but please check with your local municipality to be sure.

Why Might Pergolas Need a Permit?

Well, most pergolas really are outdoor buildings, just like patio covers and other permanent structures. And just like any other building job, you need to follow the building codes, zoning laws, and permit process of your local government.

Local Building Codes and Permitting Process

Your local building department is responsible for enforcing local building codes and permitting requirements.

They will provide you with the specific state code and permit requirements for your area.

Building codes vary by location, but they typically include regulations on building materials, height and setback requirements, and fire codes.

When applying for a permit for a pergola, you may need to provide building plans, showing the location of the structure in relation to your property line and other buildings on your property.

Depending on the size and design of your pergola, you may also need to anchor it to concrete to ensure stability.

What’s in a Building Code for a Patio Cover or Pergola?

  1. The height of a patio construction is frequently capped by local ordinances at 12 feet (though this varies by state and municipality).

  2. Pergola dimensions including beam-to-post distance, post-to-post distance, post-to-foundation depth, and post-to-post diameter are frequently specified in building codes. Local regulations concerning the weatherproofing of open-air buildings may also have an effect on these measures.

  3. Building codes will also dictate certain safety requirements for your patio cover or pergola. This can include things like minimum clearance distances from power lines, required safety railings, and fire codes.

  4. As a result, the construction codes also apply to the materials you use for your patio cover or pergola. The use of treated lumber or fireproof materials, for instance, is governed by rules in many jurisdictions. That's why aluminum pergolas are great selection in 2024.

Homeowner's Associations and Local Regulations

If you reside in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association (HOA), be sure to review their own association bylaws for any additional outdoor structure restrictions. Some homeowners associations may have aesthetic guidelines or specific construction requirements for pergolas and patio covers.

It is also important to observe that some regions have specific aesthetic regulations for historical districts.

If you are constructing a pergola in a historical district, you may be required to adhere to historical district aesthetic guidelines and specific design guidelines to ensure that your structure fulfills the necessary specifications.

Do I Need a Permit for a Pre-Built Pergola Kit?

Do I Need a Permit for a Pre-Built Pergola Kit

Pre-built pergola kits are usually permanent constructions despite their lower size and ease of installation.

Again, most of the time, these pergola kits (like the Hanso Home pergola kit) do not require any additional permits.

Thus, highly-recommend, checking with your local building authorities to see if installing a pre-built pergola kit requires a permit.

Some homeowner's organizations have pergola guidelines. These requirements may address pergola design, height, and attachment or freestanding. Before building a pergola, check your homeowner's association guidelines.

If you live in a historical neighborhood or city, pergola construction may have additional regulations.

These regions may emphasize aesthetics and design, therefore any pergola design may need to follow historical district aesthetic requirements.

Do I Need a Permit for Building a Custom Freestanding Pergola?

Do I Need a Permit for Building a Custom Freestanding Pergola?

The majority of pergolas are freestanding, meaning they are not attached to your home or another structure.

The installation of custom attached or a freestanding pergola could require a building permit.

If such a situation arises, permitting procedures for detached pergolas are comparable to those for affixed pergolas. You must submit building plans that depict the structure's location in relation to your property line.

What Happens If You Build a Pergola Without a Permit?

Building a pergola without a permit is dangerous.

First, your local government may punish you for breaking building codes. Fines can soon build up, making your outside project more expensive than necessary.

If the pergola was built without permits, local building departments may require its removal. If your pergola is well-established, this might be expensive and time-consuming.

Building a pergola without a permit could potentially cause problems when selling your house. Home inspections may reveal that the pergola was built without permits, causing legal and financial issues for you and the buyer.


Compliance with building codes and permit requirements is location-specific, however, it is advisable to prioritize safety.

Prior to commencing any construction project, it is advisable to consult with your local building department or homeowner's association.

Most of the time pre-built pergolas eliminate the need for permitting and allow for immediate enjoyment. 

A pre-built aluminum pergola can provide a convenient and stylish shading option for your outdoor area.

In addition to their contemporary appearance, they provide several customizable features to cater to individual requirements.