Table of Contents
How To Build A Raised Gazebo
Why You Need A Gazebo
Counter to what one may think, gazebos are not the creation of a dad who wants to use his underutilized workshop tools. Gazebos are an ancient architectural staple that can be referenced over thousands of years, from Egypt gardens to Japanese teahouses.
During the Renaissance period, gazebos were popularized as a common addition to monasteries, shrines, and places of relaxation. In modern-day times, a raised gazebo makes a lovely centerpiece to a home garden redesign or an outdoor al fresco dining space.
Top reasons to build a gazebo:
- Make a great outdoor dining area
- Provide a dynamic, entertaining space
- Increase property value
- Create a visual centerpiece for any garden
- They create a shady hangout spot
Before you start building a raised gazebo, you should first examine all the potential designs. The term “gazebo” is a generalization for any open-walled structure with a roof and foundation.
Materials range from stone to wood. Roof structures can vary from slatted to shingles. The overall shape can be as minimal as a simple square or can be a more dynamic octagonal structure. The modifications and ways to bring personality to your build are endless.
While a 2D rendering offers a good preview of the structure, it's also nice to see what different fabrications in different environments look like to envision your design in your own space. Architecture Lab offers dozens of designs and real projects to get your creativity flowing.
Another great resource for getting a layman’s start is My Outdoor Plans, which provides some free basic renderings of different designs as well as plans to aid you in creating your own raised gazebo structure.
The roof of the gazebo is arguably where it carries most of its personality. Many different options can be taken from historical inspiration, from the graceful Japanese teahouse style to the more ornate pergola-inspired designs of the South.
Gazebo roofs can be straight, curved, or tiered. The materials can incorporate shingles, wood slats, or wooden shakes. Personalizations can be made with weathervanes, flags, or natural light openings. The possibilities to personalize are endless.
If you opt for the classic shingle approach, varieties are available in asphalt, rubber slate, cedar, and aluminum to fit your climate or surrounding aesthetic.
There is no “right way” to build a gazebo. For example, a traditional gazebo does not necessarily need to have the floor and can be placed upon hard pack gravel or concrete.
A raised gazebo will have flooring like slatted wood decking or a decorative wood pattern which is lightweight and can easily to support an above-ground structure.
The supporting posts and braces to lift the raised flooring can be decorative or minimal and incorporate local foliage.
The possibilities are endless for what kinds of materials can be used in a gazebo structure as long as they are weatherproofed and sound in strength.
Materials can include pressure-treated white pine, redwood, cedar, vinyl, aluminum, steel, or engineered compressed composite wood. Research to acquire the associated weatherproofing and resins needed to ensure the lifetime of your structure.
Whether from scratch or from a kit, final touches will make your gazebo uniquely yours. Personalizations include arched doorways, built-in benches, and lighting fixtures. Additionally, the gazebo can be all seasons ready with built-in screens for mosquitoes or pull-down shades to protect from the heat.
Tips For Building Your Dream Gazebo
Preplanning can be the bane of the creative builders' existence but is necessary to lay a strong foundation for a long-standing and safe structure.
Before getting started, spend some time researching the best materials for your climate and terrain. After you have narrowed down your basic requirements, it is beneficial to watch a few tutorial videos, study the building process and better understand timelines and common problems encountered.
Take a good look at the surrounding trees, vines, and foliage, and remember that your gazebo will be around for a long time, and so will they. Build your gazebo with some buffer space to give room for future growth of surrounding greenery.
Take an inventory of tools of hand and their condition. Then, make a plan to rent or borrow missing supplies before you start your build. Many local hardware stores offer rental of excavators, drills, and electric saws that will put less pressure on your budget.
A gazebo is generally meant to complement its surroundings. Consider using design elements from your garden or house to incorporate into your gazebo design. Using the same roofing materials or paint color can help it blend seamlessly into the landscape.
How To Build A Gazebo From Scratch
Building a raised gazebo from scratch is a very rewarding project, especially when it involves the whole family.
This option gives you full creative control and allows you to customize every square inch from the overall size to be able to use materials that match your own house features. The main drawbacks of a DIY build are the sometimes timely procurement of all materials and a possibility of error in end measurements. Miscalculations can not only cause hours of extra labor but could also result in an unsafe structure.
If you are a seasoned builder or are willing to wade through a good amount of tutorial videos and want to pursue your first gazebo building project, we have laid out a plan before.
Building a gazebo from scratch will require the purchase of all materials and the creation of your own building plans. Backyard Scape suggests a range of $3,000-$10,000 dollars in building costs depending on the materials used, land preparation costs, and customizations.
1. Check the area for underground pipes or wires.
With any building project, safety is first! A raised gazebo will require the placement of support posts. The clearance of the ground below will largely determine the location of your gazebo.
When you think you have the perfect location, call your local 811 number (the call before you dig the national hotline). They will send someone to inspect your property for underground utility lines, pipes, or wires.
It would be practical to have a backup space picked out to have inspected if the first one yields satisfactory results upon inspection.
2. Create a draft plan.
Get to know your plan. Acquaint yourself with the layout, and gather all materials, fixtures, and tools. If you are building from a kit, watch a tutorial video to avoid common mistakes and to get a visual of the process.
The best plans will come with detailed instructions and a complete list of accessory tools needed.
3. Acquire permits.
Once you have decided on a location and collected all materials, in most cases, you will need to apply to your local building permit office. This is where having your plan ready will speed up the process. The permitting office will check the location and the building plan to ensure it complies with local building codes and regulations.
In addition, if you are ever considering selling your home, the new homeowners will likely ask to see building permits for all accessory structures on the property.
4. Level the ground.
It is paramount with a raised gazebo that the land beneath is properly leveled. Soft, inclined, or rugged terrain could cause your gazebo to be structurally unsafe in the long run. Before building any gazebo, you will need to clean grass, rocks, and debris within at least a ten-foot perimeter around your building site.
If you decide to build on an incline, it is best to seek professional advice for the use of sugar spikes or sonotube (concrete footings) to accommodate the slope.
5. Lay your base.
The base of your gazebo should be able to stand the test of weather and time.
With a raised gazebo, it is commonly recommended to use a concrete slab with a metal rebar. This is usually the most expensive option and is best left to a professional to create a foundation for your raised gazebo. The curing time fr will take 7-10 days before you can continue to build.
Other options for bases include flagstone on concrete, patio stones, or cinder blocks where a skirt of foliage can be used to hide the perimeter.
6. Mark the areas where your support posts will be placed.
The posts for your raised gazebo will ultimately support your roof and overall frame structure. Use your own plans or seek guidance from your kit instructions for measurements and mark placement.
7. Cut and set the support posts.
Use a post digger to secure the posts into the ground. Depending on your terrain and plans, you can use concrete tubes or footings to secure the poles firmly into the ground.
If you are not building from a kit, you will need to cut and measure each pole before placing it into the ground to ensure they are flush with the bottom. If you are building from a kit you will only need to put them in place and pour concrete to specification around them.
8. Mount beams.
Bracing beams will be the most important structural detail for your gazebo floor and roof. The beams will be placed perpendicular to the posts and bolted in place. Before placing beams, you will need to pre-measure and drill the bolt holes.
This portion of the buildout is best done with 2-3 people who are able to hold the beams in place while they are being bolted in.
9. Assemble and attach the roof and walls.
If your plan calls for the addition of walls these can be prefabricated on the ground and with the help of an extra set of hands can be affixed to the structure.
After walls or railing are placed, you can begin on the roof. You will need to attach your beams in the same manner as the floor beams. Then the roof structure can be applied atop the beams and finished with shingles, slats, or material of your choice.
To finish off you can add a personalized cupola, weathervane, or decorative addition of your choice.
10. Apply personal touches.
In a DIY format, the personal touches are endless. If you opt to build a gazebo from a kit, this is where it can be made unique.
Personalizations can come in the form of stains or custom paint, floating benches, or screened doors.
How To Build A Gazebo From A Kit
If you have a tight deadline, would like the security of fail-proof design, or simply enjoy a predictable end result, building a gazebo from a kit is for you. Gazebo building from a kit is well within the average do-it-yourselfer's wheelhouse and can be purchased from a variety of national home improvement stores or online.
Some prefabricated gazebos are often called “Amish Gazebos” because they are hand-built in Amish country and shipped by truck to your door. These structures can be easily erected on a stone slab or hard pack gravel and require little labor.
Building a gazebo from a kit means minimal measuring and no guesswork with the associated hardware needed. Every piece is cut and ready to go in a nice tidy box ready to assemble. A gazebo kit is also a good choice for every skill level and a perfect place to start a family project.
The budget for a gazebo kit will cost anywhere between $300-400 dollars for a semi-permanent structure on up to $10,000 dollars for a larger permanent structure.
Kits can be based on vinyl, wood, or steel materials. Modifications such as screens, benches, and lighting fixtures will also involve additional costs.
Setting up a gazebo from a readily measured kit is a huge timesaver. You won’t need to run around looking for all the right materials and fixtures, and additionally, you will be less prone to faulty guesswork causing the purchase of replacement materials.
Depending on the size of the gazebo, most kit retailers suggest an average of five to ten hours of labor time. Combine that with a few extra helping hands, and it can be done in a weekend.
The steps for building a raised gazebo from a kit are the same as a DIY scenario, with the exception of going through the design phase. Kit gazebos conveniently come with detailed draft plans and materials.
A raised gazebo from a kit will still require you to:
1. Check the area for underground pipes or wires.
2. Acquire permits.
3. Level the ground.
4. Lay your base.
5. Mark the areas where your support posts will be placed.
6. Install support posts.
7. Mount beams.
8. Assemble and attach the roof and walls.
Where To Purchase A Gazebo Kit
There are several highly rated companies supplying gazebo building kits.
Country Lane Gazebos supplies Amish-made wooden and vinyl versions. They offer customization and checklists throughout the process. You also have the option to have their team install the whole structure for you.
Summerwood Products is another great company for supplying DIY gazebo kits with a vast amount of designs available. They offer classic Victorian, Bali Teahouse, and Coventry-style gazebo plans. They also offer a Custom Design Center for adding personal touches to the kit.
Amish Company Gazebos has been crafting artisan DIY kits for generations. They offer a lifetime warranty on their kits, boasting the high quality of their pressure-treated lumber and virgin resins.