DIY vs. Professional Pergola Installation in Reno: Which is Best?

A wooden pergola installed by Grand Design Landscape in Nevada

Elevate Your Outdoor Living Space

Ever caught yourself daydreaming about a stunning pergola to elevate your backyard?

Or perhaps you’ve been eyeing your neighbor’s beautiful pergola setup with a hint of envy?

In this post, we’ll delve deep into the world of pergolas, particularly focusing on the age-old debate: DIY or hire a professional?

By the end, you’ll not only be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision but also be inspired if you decide to get an outdoor living space installation in Reno, Nevada.

DIY vs. Professional Pergola Installation Costs In Reno

A pergola with an outdoor kitchen and seating area next to it with a firepit

When it comes to enhancing your outdoor living space with a pergola, the decision often boils down to cost.

Both DIY and professional installations have their own set of expenses, and understanding them can help you make an informed choice.

You can learn more details about the cost of installing a pergola in Reno here.

DIY Pergola Costs

Opting for a DIY approach can seem like a cost-effective route at first glance.

If you’re sourcing materials and handling the labor yourself, you’re looking at average expenses ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 for a basic DIY pergola.

However, the cost range cited above is just an average.

Your final DIY cost will largely depend on your material choices, the design complexity, tool acquisition, and–perhaps the biggest cost factor for DIYers–unexpected expenses due to mistakes that can lead to additional purchases or even starting over!

Professional Pergola Installation Costs

On the other hand, hiring professionals in Reno typically costs between $4,000 to $14,000 for a pergola installation.

While this might seem steep compared to DIY, the professional installation provides a comprehensive, hassle-free experience.

The Benefits of DIY Pergolas

A DIYer working on a pergola..

For hands-on individuals, the allure of constructing a pergola from the ground up is undeniable.

The sense of accomplishment, the personal touch, and the potential cost savings make DIY an attractive option.

If you’re leaning towards this route, here’s a deeper dive into what you can expect:

Basic Pergola Kits

These are pre-packaged sets that come with all the necessary materials and instructions.

Pergola kits are designed for those who may have little construction experience but are willing to take on a manageable project.

In Reno, pergola kits typically range from $3,000 to $8,000, depending on the size, materials, and features.

They’re a great starting point for those looking to dip their toes into the world of DIY.

Designing Your Own

Hands Holding Computer Tablet with Drawing of Pergola on Screen

For the more ambitious, designing a pergola from scratch offers a chance to create a truly unique outdoor feature.

This route, while more time-consuming, can be incredibly rewarding.

On average, you’re looking at costs of around $3,000 for a built-from-scratch pergola, but this can fluctuate based on design intricacies and material choices.

Before embarking on this DIY journey, ponder the following:

  • Time Investment: Constructing a pergola isn’t a one-day affair. Can you allocate multiple weekends or evenings? Are you prepared for potential delays, like unexpected weather changes in Reno?

  • Tools: While some might have a garage filled with tools, others might need to invest in or rent the necessary equipment. Items like hammers, drills, levels, and saws are essential. Remember, the right tools can make the difference between a smooth project and a challenging ordeal.

  • Safety: Construction, even on a smaller scale, comes with risks. Are you familiar with the safety measures to prevent accidents? Do you have protective gear like gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats?

The Benefits of Hiring a Pergola Contractor

A steel pergola in Reno

On the flip side, entrusting the job to professionals might come with a higher price tag, but the advantages are numerous:

Quality Assurance

Professionals bring years of experience to the table.

They’ve faced and overcome countless challenges in their past projects, ensuring that your pergola stands strong against Reno’s elements and lasts for years.

There’s peace of mind in knowing that every beam, bolt, and bracket has been expertly placed.

Material Knowledge

Reno’s climate is unique.

Professionals can guide you in selecting materials that not only look good but also stand up to the local weather.

Whether it’s choosing between cedar wood, which naturally blends with gardens, or opting for rust-resistant steel, their advice is invaluable.

Custom Designs

While DIY kits offer limited designs, professionals can tailor-make a pergola to fit your exact specifications.

Dreaming of an intricate lattice design or envisioning a pergola with built-in seating?

A professional can turn that vision into reality.

Building Codes

Reno has its own set of building regulations and codes. In Reno, pergolas that are attached to a home or that have a footprint of over 200 square feet require permits issued by Washoe County.

Professionals ensure that your pergola is not only beautiful but also compliant with local standards.

This saves you from potential legal headaches and costly adjustments down the line.

All-Inclusive Service

A professional outdoor living space contractor will include design consultation, material sourcing, labor, and post-installation cleanup.

Time Savings

Instead of spending multiple weekends on the project, professionals can often complete the job in a fraction of the time.


Many professional services offer warranties on their work, giving you peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, they’ll handle it.

Here at Grand Design Landscape, we’re proud to offer a 3-year craftsmanship guarantee on our pergolas, including regular check-ins to make sure your space is still perfect.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or someone looking for a hassle-free professional installation, understanding the costs, benefits, and challenges is crucial.

Your choice will ultimately depend on your budget, time, skills, and the kind of pergola experience you’re aiming for in Reno, NV.

How to Choose Between DIY and Professional Installation

a backyard with a brick walkway and a pergola area.

If you’re leaning towards DIY, ensure you have the necessary skills and tools.

While the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled, remember that professionals bring expertise and often complete the job faster.

Let’s take a closer look at the basic process for pergola installation:

Pergola Installation Prep Work

Before you start:

  • Level the Ground: Ensure a flat surface for stability.

  • Check for Hazards: Always check for underground utilities by calling 811.

  • Permits: In Reno, certain structures might require permits. Better safe than sorry!

How to Install a Pergola

Here’s a brief overview of the installation process for pergolas.

Keep in mind this installation process is for a wooden pergola being installed on the ground.

A steel or fiberglass structure will have a slightly different process:

  • Measuring and Staking: Outline your pergola’s footprint.

  • Digging: Prepare holes for the posts.

  • Setting Posts: Ensure they’re level and sturdy.

  • Concrete: Prepare and pour as needed.

  • Beams and Rafters: Install the top structure.

  • Finishing Touches: Paint, stain, or seal your pergola for added longevity.

Average Cost of Pergola Installation by Material & Size

a pergola with couches, tables and a hanging chair.

Depending on your choice of material and size, costs can vary.

The cost estimate ranges below include sizes from 10’x12′ to 14’x14′:

  • Wood Pergola: A classic choice, costing between $4,000 to $14,000.

  • Steel Pergola: Modern and durable, ranging from $20,000 to $40,000.

  • Aluminum Pergola: Lightweight and adjustable, priced between $3,000 to $8,000.

  • Fiberglass Pergola: Resistant to rot and insects, costing $5,000 to $10,000.

Note: Grand Design Landscape specializes in freestanding (unattached to the home) pergolas made of wood and steel. However, we have included the average cost of pergolas made of other materials for educational purposes.

Factors Influencing Pergola Costs

A pergola with an outdoor kitchen

When considering adding a pergola to your outdoor space, it’s essential to understand the various factors that can influence the final price. Here’s a deeper dive into these elements:


Different materials come with varying costs, durability, and maintenance needs:

  • Wood: A popular choice due to its natural look. Types like cedar and redwood are resistant to decay but might require periodic sealing.

  • Steel: Offers strength and durability but can be more expensive. It’s essential to choose rust-resistant varieties, especially in wetter climates.

  • Aluminum: Lightweight and resistant to rust. It’s a cost-effective option that can mimic the look of wood with the right finish.

  • Fiberglass: While pricier, it’s rot-resistant, doesn’t warp, and requires minimal maintenance.

Size and Design

The bigger the pergola, the more materials you’ll need, which can increase costs.

Additionally, intricate designs or custom features like arches can add to the price.


In places like Reno, where there’s a mix of hot summers and cold winters, labor costs might vary.

The local climate can also influence material choices, affecting the overall price.


Depending on the size and location of your pergola, Reno regulations might require you to obtain a permit.

This can add to the cost and timeline of your project.


While a basic pergola is lovely, many homeowners opt for upgrades:

  • Lights: Add ambiance for evening gatherings.

  • Fans: Keep the area cool during hot Reno summers.

  • Built-In Seating: Provides additional functionality and comfort.

  • Firepits: A firepit under or near your pergola can be a game-changer. It provides warmth during cooler Reno evenings, creates a focal point for gatherings, and can even be used for outdoor cooking.

  • Outdoor Kitchens: Equipped with grills, countertops, sinks, and even refrigerators, these kitchens allow you to prepare and serve meals without running back and forth to the indoor kitchen. You can learn more about the cost of building an outdoor kitchen here.

  • Patios: Using materials like pavers, concrete, or natural stone, patios provide a solid foundation for your pergola and other outdoor features. You can learn more about the cost of building a paver patio here.

FAQs About Pergolas

a backyard with a wooden fence and a pergola area.

Why get a pergola?

Pergolas are more than just a visual treat.

They offer shade, making outdoor spaces usable even during the peak of summer.

They also help define different areas in your yard, like dining or lounging spaces.

Additionally, a well-designed pergola can increase the resale value of your home, making it an investment that pays off in multiple ways.

How long does it take to install?

The time it takes to install a pergola can vary based on its size, design, and whether you’re going the DIY route or hiring professionals.

While a DIY project’s timeline can be unpredictable, professionals in Reno typically take between 1-6 weeks, depending on the project’s complexity.

Does a pergola offer rain protection?

Traditional pergolas, with their open-lattice roofs, offer limited protection against rain.

However, there are options like retractable covers or installing a solid roof to shield against the elements better.

What’s the difference between a pergola and a gazebo?

Both pergolas and gazebos are popular outdoor structures that provide shade.

While pergolas are open structures often used to enhance patios or decks, gazebos are freestanding, roofed structures, often with closed sides.

Gazebos are more suited for protection against the elements, while pergolas offer a more open, airy feel. Your choice will depend on your specific needs and aesthetic preferences.

Transform Your Outdoor Living Space with Grand Design Landscape

a fenced in area with a brick wall and a pergola area.

Whether you choose DIY or professional installation, a pergola is a valuable addition to any outdoor space.

At Grand Design Landscape, we’re dedicated to turning your dream into reality.

Ready to elevate your Reno home?

Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call.

Let’s transform your outdoor space together!

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