I want to build a Pergola

Architectural Design & Drafting

“I want to build a Pergola”

This statement is common for customers proposing to make a “pergola or verandah” addition to their house.

When posed with this question we ask following questions:

  • Do you want a roof or open structure or a combination of both?
  • Do you want a flat or pitched roof style or combination of both?
  • What materials do you want to use timber or metal frames?
  • Roofing – thinking of metal, skylights, tiles?
  • Budget – what is your preferred budget range?
  • Are you building it yourself or getting a builder?
  • When do you want project complete by?

Once we have these questions known and we have established location and size we can now begin our design and project options review.

I’m amazed how many times of I’ve been to a house with similar location of a previous project but after viewing site have above discussion I’ve came away with a new design option. I like to feel what we have decided on is exciting and a true addition to our house – our most important financial asset.

The factors influencing design can be so varied. Each location, set of proposed usage needs, budget, proposed materials, style and clients owns ideas and research ensures a new a exciting approach to what is the staple of all Australian extensions.

The needs and uses of the Aussie Pergola (or Verandah if it has a roof) have significantly grown over the last 20 years from what would be called humble origins of the lean-to 6 x 3 on the back of the house.

Change in Melbourne Victoria (where I live) has not only been driven by advancements in design and materials but also home owners increased usage and needs from their outdoor space. Custom has developed where entertaining has “moved outside” rather than inside… and generally in warmer more active months.

In the 70’s and 80’s pergolas were largely an open structure attached to the dwelling or walkways covered but not areas were aimed an gatherings of people. Sometimes these parts of original house design were to provide ambience to dwelling or shade to north/west elevations.

Progressively these areas usage started to extended and then needs to provide “dry” areas increased.  Victoria with a 6 – 8 month average external temperature below 20°C, has meant long periods where outside living needed protection.  In warmer climate’s outside living to take advantage of cooling breezes etc., have been a factor for many more years. The “Queenslander” being a classic example of verandah usage for more than a walkway.

Strangely house designers were still not heavily involved to make these structures for new homes through mid 80’ to late 90’s.Centenary Gable - FreespanAs entertainment customs started to evolve (TV through shows like Bert’s backyard initiating external interest) and building block’s quickly reducing in size, with little to no shading outdoors including street scape, owners began the a drive to “build a pergola” to rear of dwelling with a renewed vigor and growth of usage.

From the mid 1990’s pergolas started to expand in size, design and budget whereby the advent of the outdoor verandah area has become commonplace.

Builder’s noting the changing needs started to provide owners with external roofed area’s that became known as the “Alfresco” area. Initially no more than a glorified walkway by 2005 builders had learnt and started provide actual areas that outdoor living could be realised.

Year 2010 and beyond – With the new Energy rating standards going to 6 stars in 2011 another change to home building has put at risk the standard Alfresco area. Many reasons not lest of all rising home costs with energy issues may find another twist with pergola locations to dwellings.

In 2012,  I find the answer to the simple question posed above “I want to build a pergola” have vastly changed whilst the name remains the same. Owners want their outdoor living space to be a full extension of dwelling lifestyle. With a growing to smaller homes plus energy requirements, building cost and land size will see the need for 3 or 4 living zones within the home reduced and replaced with the outdoor room or living space.

Gable - solar span with screen wallsThe outdoors living space is developing whereby smaller dwelling will be matched with ever growing external living spaces that can be conditioned by improved roofing options, longer warrantied & durable products, flexible walling (screens, blinds) that will make our “aussie pergola” a full extension to the dwelling.

As I’ve been involved throughout this period I can’t help but be continually reinvented by the change and the freshness that come from my clients ideas and excitement. Before I know it I’m teaming with them to find that perfect solution to their home and their project.

So “I want a pergola” now days can mean anything from the 6 x 3 to full-on Outdoor Living Space that truly is an extension of the dwelling and our lifestyle..

The statement we respond to remains unchanged but, the outcomes have changed and with the threat of global warming influencing our energy requirements are just motor to drive the external room forward in design, usage and budget.

While different climates will dictate the type and style for the best suitable outcome the trend overall will continue in all states towards owners own outdoor living statement that is theirs alone.

Comment by Ross J. Seddon

Prepared for  The Project Centre – Narre Warren

Location Factory I,  26-28 Abbott Road Hallam Vic. 3806

Telephone: 9796 6799

Web Site: www.projectcentre.com.au

Dated April 2012

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