Homeowners are always looking for ways to increase the beauty and value of their homestead.
One idea that is trending is the pergola -- and small gazebo open on all four sides with a peaked roof, and circular seating around the inside. Made from wood or plastic, these domestic structures have made a surprising comeback in the last few years -- not that they haven’t always been popular, but in the past they have always been placed in the backyard, for privacy.
With the pandemic, that paradigm has changed. Homeowners hungry for some neighborhood interaction without close social contact are now building pergola kits in their front yards, where they can sit in comfort and visit with neighbors, or with anyone who happens to be walking by, in comfort and at a safe distance.
Is this a good idea?
The answer is both yes and no.
Let’s look at the negatives first.
First and foremost is the fact that in many cities and towns, the local zoning ordinances will not allow for a small detached structure on your front lawn. So before you commit to any purchases or building plans, make sure that your local zoning commission will allow a front yard pergola -- make sure to get their exact measurements for what is allowable as far as size and proximity to the house and the street are.
A variance may be issued that allows you to build a pergola in the front yard, but it may require a hefty fee -- and there are your neighbors to consider; they may think of your pergola as an eyesore, or an unseemly brag about your ability to flout zoning laws and build something so insignificant and yet (in their imagination) so expensive. Remember the Golden Rule for Homeowners -- never hack off the zoning board or your neighbors.
On the plus side, as mentioned above, in today’s closed off society, it can be very pleasant to have a private outdoor pavilion where you can sit at your ease, enjoy a snack and a beverage, and watch the world go by -- interacting with it at a safe distance as much or as little as you please.
A good accountant will be able to help you find tax breaks for your pergola. And, unlike an added on front porch, a separate structure like a pergola will never compromise your home’s structural integrity.
Will it increase the value of your property? In most cases, yes, as long as it is built to fit into your neighborhoods ambiance and is durable enough not to go to pieces in a few years.