The Permit Predicament of Building a Backyard Pergola


Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
Recently, I came across an intriguing question on Reddit. A first-time homeowner shared their experience of building a pergola in their backyard. This guy was fined for not having a permit. What seem to be interesting here is the neighbor, who helped this person build pergolas did not actually have permits. To make the situation worse, the HOA told them they also need an additional zoning permit from the town. The homeowner is confused and asks why so many permits are needed for a simple structure that does not have floors, walls, and is made of sixteen pieces of wood. Why do that ask for so many permits for a structure where they don't have and is not even attached to the house. Is it normal to face so much red tape for such a simple project?

If you want to check the discussion, here is the link to the original post?
United States
Is this a permanent structure or is it portable? I also wonder whether it's detached. The Reddit poster might have a workaround depending on where he or she resides. I've read the thread, but I don't believe the poster has disclosed that information. Really, though, the homeowner's best bet is to sort the permit issues. Unfortunately, it won't come cheap.
Yes, the poster does not give much information. However, I believe he misses the vital point that is the need for permits depend on a lot of things from the size and permanence of the structure to the local zoning laws and HOA’s specific rules and regulations.
I can understand the frustration, but It's ideal that the redditor first check with their local rules and HOA requirements. Verifying both can go a long way in ensuring their builds are within the specific rules and regulations especially with safety and the compliance of local codes. HOAs may even have other rules about the look and design of the build.

Since a pergola isn't always a simple thing, and it could affect the appearance or even the use of the property, permits will likely be required. And not only just your local government requiring a permit, your HOA might also require one too. Getting permitted in this case, saves you from a future of issues, especially with property values and neighborhood standards.

And on the other end, there are consequences to consider when in non-compliance. If you don't file the proper permits, it could in the end lead to fines, removal of the structure, or issues when selling your property later. It's usually best to just get permitted and be on the safe side, even if the work is easy.