Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright image: Pergola climbing plants: a beautiful pink climbing rose growing over a pergola trellis.

Here are some frequently asked questions about using and downloading the pergola plans:

Downloading the Plans

I have paid for the plans but the email containing the download link has not arrived in my inbox.

This happens if your email filtering thinks that the email is 'junk' or 'spam'.

Check in these folders and you should find the email there.

I tried to download the plans from the download window/box but the file didn't download.

Different browsers download in different ways, but the principles are the same.

The first way is the easiest:

  1. When the download window appears, click SAVE and this will let you choose where you want to keep the file on your computer. The download should only take a few seconds, depending on your internet connection.
  2. If this should fail, click on OPEN, which will save the files into your 'Temporary Internet Files'.Either drag and drop the files to your desktop...Or, you can double click to select the individual files, which will open them in Adobe Reader, and then click 'File' and then 'Save As'. Remember to save them both.The files should open immediately in 'Adobe Reader'.

If you don't have this essential software on your computer, you can download it very quickly and easily here , for free.

The following video shows:

  • How to find the email containing the download link.
  • How to download the files if the SAVE option fails (using OPEN)

Questions About the Plans

Will the plans still work if I use thicker posts and rafters?

Yes. You can use any size of treated timber you like.

Do I need planning permission to build a pergola in my garden?

For a smaller pergola, you shouldn't need it, but this will depend on the planning laws in your country, whether your property is a listed building or in a national park. If unsure, check first.  I've summarised the building regulations to make them easier to understand.

Check with neighbours, if your pergola is likely to obstruct their view or their light.

How long can the distance be between posts?

This is called the pergola beam span, and is a very common question.

Timber, over time, will sag, and therefore it is important that the main rafters / pergola beams are sturdy enough to support the rafters set on top of them, with the climbing plants.

As a 'rule of thumb', the thicker the posts and the thicker and deeper the main rafters/beams, the greater distance you can have between posts.

For 1" x 4" rafters, go for about 4' - 6' between posts, or less.For 1.5" x 6" rafters, 8'-10' between posts, or less.For 2" x 6" , about 10'-12', or less.

Increasing the thickness and depth will allow for a little more distance, as will using double main rafters/beams to support the other rafters. Corner braces will also add strength.

Leaving the main supporting rafters unnotched will also make for a stronger structure. You can still have a notched look by notching the rafters that sit on the main supports to 1/2 way. These will be raised rafters, as seen in the picture below.

Copyright image: Pergola rafter tail design - Raised rafter style.

All in all, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution and have supporting posts at a reasonable distance apart. The last thing you want is for your rafters to sag.

Can I achieve any look I want with the plans?

Yes. The plans are fully adaptable so that you can have any shape or size of pergola, any length rafter tails, rafters running only one way, the best way to position the rafters with particular shapes...

See 'Adapting the Plans' for more information.

Can I use planed timber?

If you would like a very smooth finish you can use planed timber, but do be aware that planing reduces the dimensions of the post, so it won't fit as snugly into the post anchor/Metpost.

Copyright image: Pergola climbing plants: a beautiful pink climbing rose growing over a pergola trellis.

If you have a question that is not answered here, please use the contact form and I will get back to you as soon as possible, and maybe add your question to the list of frequently asked questions, if relevant.

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