Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is it So Much to Ask?

Lovely garden that has nothing to do with me - or with pergolas, by Paul Raeside from desiretoinspire

Just got the quote for my souped up pergola. I should disclose that I did rather fancy it up in the design I intend to have constructed the first weekend of May.

The challenge: Even if I rescale, the quote came in so horrendously high, I don't know that I can justify the cost. (Proviso: The carpenter is excellent and very reasonably priced - we've used his services before. This structure just contains a shit load of wood.)

As you may know, we did do the deck and centre landscaping last summer, and a fence the year before. This summer, the non-negotiable and planned improvements are the planting of a new tree (the weed tree there currently is damaged - and it's a weed), the laying of a patio (above which said pergola would reside) and the installation of climbing vines and fragrant flower bushes against one of the side walls (neighbour's garage wall).

So here's the question of the day (and please guess answer, even if you know nothing about hardscaping or garden design; even if you're 20 and living in a dorm): How much would you pay to have a pergola installed? What's the job worth (oh, I know this is impossible to answer objectively, but what's it worth to you?) Do you think I should just live with the rest of the improvements and forgo the "wooden room"?

Do you maybe, secretly hate pergolas - or at least the weird name?

I'm confused.


  1. Oh dear. I couldn't even begin to guess. A custom-job that big tho? Around $3,000 maybe. My dad is a woodworker so I know how much work goes in ...

    If it's too much, I'd skip it. Enjoy the rest of the planned improvements and pergolafy next year.

  2. I love pergolas! But if you say the word enough times it seems to lose all meaning. Pergola. Pergola. Yup.


  3. Well, I must confess that I think Pergola a weird name...


  4. we just had a pergola built over the winter -- funkier than the clean-lined look you were aiming at -- it incorporates beachwood as our place is waterfront. We used a local guy who makes up as he goes along 'cause we trust him -- he also leveled out and paved the patio that the pergola sits on and did some drystone retaining wall around it for a total cost of somewhere between 6 and 7. But we're on a wee island off the West Coast which is quite a different market than the big city, so I'm not sure you can compare. Photos on my blog back somewhere February-ish, I think, if you're curious about the structure.
    If I were you, I'd probably get the rest of the work done now, since it's identified as necessary and it's also prep work for the pergola. And I wouldn't give up the idea of the pergola at all, but would make it your next stage. We've been at our place for 17 years now and still have projects -- and I'm happy we did it bit by bit not only because the cost would have been crazy daunting to do all at once (still shocks me when I add it all up), but also because I can really test my commitment to an idea -- if I still want it 2 years later, I'm not likely to regret it.
    Have fun watching the changes!

  5. Sal: While 3K is more than I wanted to pay, it is still less than the quote. FYI - if I did everything I wanted (and I've decided to skip certain fringe aspects) this thing would cost 6K.

    CC and Seeker: I know, it's ridiculous!

    materfamilias: What a great response. I'm totally going to check out your photos. And, what you are suggesting makes total sense. It's just that I've had my heart set on the "finished" backyard for 9 years in this house, and waiting still longer seems so disappointing. Not that it matters if we decide the price is too high.

  6. Am I too far off?

    $1200 (us) labor (3 days, 3 guys)

    I have no idea what kind of wood you're using, but I have trouble imagining that it would cost more that $2500 (us)

    $3700 (us)?

  7. I believe you have to weigh your home investment options. If you plan to move in the next couple of years buy a pergola kit that you can take with you. Don't attach it to the home and when you move pack it up like a lawn chair:) In the meantime it will enhance the look of your home to your future buyer. If you plan to stay in your current home you can still put one together with two people. There are easy to assemble kits. The pieces are not extremely heavy, just large and awkward. They can be installed free standing or they do have a mount option if you wanted to pour a concrete base to anchor it to...The beams are all connected and held into place by screws and a mounting bar.

  8. Get an irish builder landscaper over there. With the recession they are desperate for any kind of work and prices have dropped here by a MINIMUM of 30%


  9. I sense that you really want this. How about looking into recycled wood? Or could you use laminates? My He-weasel is good at this stuff. I'll ask him for suggestions on maybe how you could lower the cost.

  10. Pergolas are priceless! I think it's the sort of thing you would always regret not having.

  11. When I used to work in residential design, my boss was OBSESSED with pergolas but they were always one of the first things to be cut from the budget, simply because the price could not outweigh the "function" that they may or may not supply. BUT...if you want to save some moolah and you plan on having said pergola covered in lovely vines anyway, perhaps consider having a few timber portal frames with tensioned wires between - that way you still get the effect of the bowery overhead, but without the crazy costs of all the timber!

  12. You could buy one for $400-600 and install it yourself or buy one and add to it. I think 4k is WAY TOO HIGH!

    So is $3000, too high, but it depends on how much the actual cost of the wood is vs the labor and how long it would take him.

  13. I continue to be so grateful for and thrilled by your insightful comments everyone. Thank you so much!

    D: As I mentioned in my email, you are very good with the guestimates!

    Kelly: I have this feeling you are a competent do-it-yourselfer. I'm an insanely busy working mother with a husband who runs his own business. We really don't have any energy left over for projects (though my husband is entirely capable). I think we will stay in this house for a long while - we've been there for almost 10 years. So I'm leaning towards a less portable model. But your comment has really inspired me to think about things in a new way, thank you!

    Hammie: Why don't I just move to Ireland, where everything is already so gorgeous I won't need to landscape??

    Bel: Thank you for continuing this discussion with me offline. You have so called it when you suggest that it's something I really want.

    Andrea: You have my number! So nice to see you here. I know that book's been messing with you :-)

    Ms. U: Fascinating info from the inside! I can totally see how this would happen. Thanks for your other suggestions.

    GJ: You've hit the nail on the head (hahaha). It's not an unreasonable job price given the cost of the materials. The carpenter is excellent and reasonably priced. But is it worth it (see Ms. U's comment)?

  14. One thing you could do is have pillars poured that are squared and leveled to support the pergola legs. Or you could use nice stone blocks.

    They will be semi-decorative until you have time and money to complete the pergola and will demarcate the area you eventually enclose.

  15. D.: The pergola was on until last night - when wrench was thrown in the works. Tonight will decide whether it's a stay or a go. Keep fingers crossed.