What Happens If You Build A Pergola Without A Permit

If you’ve ever dreamed of building a pergola in your backyard, you might be wondering what happens if you build one without the necessary permits. 

The good news is that it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds! In fact, there are actually several reasons why building without a permit can actually be better for you and your project. 

But before we get into them (and how to avoid them), let’s take a moment to learn more about why building without a permit is such an issue in the first place:

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Patio Cover or Pergola?
Building a pergola without a permit can have legal consequences.
Violating zoning or building codes may result in fines, penalties, or even the requirement to remove the pergola.
It is crucial to understand the specific permit requirements in your local area.
Obtaining a permit typically involves submitting an application with detailed plans and specifications.
Retroactive permits for pergolas built without one may be possible, but the outcome depends on local regulations and building authorities.

What Happens If You Build A Pergola Without A Permit

If you’re found to have built a pergola without a permit, you could be fined and forced to tear down the structure. 

You may also be required to pay for the permit if your home’s value can’t cover all of your fines. If you want to sell your home later on, having an illegal structure in place could also hurt its value.

If you’re considering placing a pergola on your deck, you’ll want to understand the requirements and considerations. Our article on installing a pergola on a deck provides valuable insights into the feasibility and best practices for this project.

How Do I Get A Permit For A Pergola?

The first thing you should do is check with your local building department to see if a permit is required for the project. 

They can tell you what kind of work you need to have done and whether or not it’s possible for you to get a permit without having an architect or engineer help with the process. 

Most people don’t have any trouble getting one, but there are different rules depending on where in the country you live.

If your building department says no permits are needed and tells you that it’s okay for them to just give their approval after seeing the plans, this could be red flag number one. 

If it sounds too good to be true, chances are there’s something untoward going on behind closed doors including corruption and greed (or worse).

Steps to Get a PermitAssociated Actions
Research RequirementsCheck local building codes and regulations
Prepare DocumentationGather necessary plans, drawings, and forms
Submit ApplicationComplete and submit the permit application
Pay FeesPay the required permit fees
Schedule InspectionsCoordinate inspections as required
Obtain PermitReceive approved permit for pergola construction

What Are The Requirements To Build A Pergola In My Backyard?

If you’re planning to build a pergola in your backyard, there are several things that you must take into consideration. 

First and foremost, the pergola must be at least 8 feet from any property line. It also needs to be 10 feet away from any building on your property (including the house) and at least 10 feet away from any street or sidewalk. 

The setbacks required by these regulations are necessary for both safety concerns as well as aesthetic ones: they prevent someone walking on the street or sidewalk from accidentally hitting their head on an improperly installed beam, while also preventing adjacent properties’ views of your yard being blocked by over-sized pergolas.

Curious about adding a solid roof to your pergola? Discover the possibilities and design options with our detailed explanation on pergolas with solid roofs. Explore the benefits and considerations before making your decision.

Can I Build A Pergola On My Property Without Getting A Permit?

A permit is required for any structure that is attached to your home, even if it’s just a simple fence. This includes decks, porches and pergolas. A permit is also required for structures built on your property such as sheds and detached garages.

Do I Need To Hire An Architect Or Engineer To Help Me With My Project?

No, but you might want to. If this project is of great importance to you, then a professional may be able to help make it perfect, from start to finish. 

However, if this is just something small that doesn’t have much monetary value (like building a pergola for your backyard), then there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself. 

Just know that if there are any issues with what you’re doing, then the responsibility lies entirely on your shoulders and could result in fines if caught by officials!

RequirementExamples of Projects
ArchitectDesigning a custom home, remodeling a commercial space
Structural EngineerBuilding a bridge, constructing a high-rise building
Civil EngineerDeveloping a site plan, designing drainage systems
Mechanical EngineerHVAC system design, plumbing layout for a large building
Electrical EngineerDesigning electrical systems for a residential complex

How Long Does It Take To Get Approval From The City For My Project?

The length of time it takes to get an approval from the city for your project depends on its complexity. 

You can begin the process by creating a permit portal account on their website. Once you have done that, you’ll need to submit plans for review by a building inspector who will determine whether or not they meet code requirements and issue a building permit.

Once this has been done and your application fee paid through the city’s payment portal, it should only take a few days before you receive confirmation of receipt of your submission (and any additional required documentation) as well as instructions on how long it will take for them to process everything before issuing final approval or denial of permission.

Have you ever wondered about the purpose and advantages of having a pergola in your outdoor space? Our article on the point of having a pergola offers insights into how pergolas can enhance your lifestyle and create a welcoming outdoor environment.

What If I Need More Space Than What’s Allowed By My Permit?

If you wish to make changes to the approved plans, a variance is required. A variance must be submitted in writing, along with a letter of intent which explains the reason(s) for requesting a variance and describes how your project complies with the intent and spirit of the ordinance. 

In addition, you will need to submit an amended site plan that includes all applicable information such as building permits/certificates issued by other jurisdictions (if applicable), copies of previous approvals from other jurisdictions (if available), etc.

What Are The Penalties For Building Without A Permit?

If you build a structure without a permit, you can be fined. If you are caught building your pergola illegally and don’t stop working on it, your neighbors will be required to do so for you. 

They can sue you if they’re hurt by this structure or if its existence causes them emotional distress (which is extremely common).

If the city finds out that your pergola has not been approved by their department, they will issue fines and force you to tear down the structure at once! 

The penalties for failing to follow local regulations are steep and could end up costing much more than simply paying for a permit in the first place.

Penalty TypeExamples of Consequences
Financial PenaltiesFines, monetary penalties
Legal ActionsCease-and-desist orders, legal disputes
DemolitionRequirement to remove or demolish the unauthorized structure
Delays and CostsDelays in project completion, additional expenses to rectify the violation
Impact on ResaleDifficulty in selling the property, decreased property value

Will Building Without A Permit Affect My Home’s Value?

The most important thing to remember is that when you build without a permit, you could be breaking the law. Getting caught means fines and penalties as well as potential damage to your home’s value.

If you’re thinking about building a pergola, whether it’s on your own property or someone else’s land, make sure you know what permits are needed before starting work!

Understanding how pergolas work can help you appreciate their functionality and potential impact on your outdoor area. Dive into our informative guide on how pergolas work to gain a deeper understanding of their structure and benefits.

Where Can I Find Information About Getting Permits In My Area?

If you’re trying to figure out how to get a permit for your pergola, one of the best ways to start is by asking around. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

Ask the local building department if they have any forms or information they can give you on building a pergola.

Call city hall and ask them where their website has information about permits. They may have an application that has been designed specifically for people who want to build a pergola on their property.

Ask a real estate agent or home inspector whether there are any specific rules about building structures like this in your area. 

They’ll know what kinds of things can be built on each lot in your neighborhood and whether or not permits are required for those kinds of things (like fences).

Contact contractors before starting your project so that they can help with getting approval from all relevant authorities before proceeding with construction work especially if it involves getting an engineer involved! 

You’ll save yourself lots  of time having someone else handle these details while also making sure everything goes smoothly when submitting paperwork later down the road during construction itself…which means less stress overall!

Ready to embark on a pergola construction project? Our comprehensive guide on building a pergola provides step-by-step instructions and tips to help you create the perfect pergola for your outdoor space. Get started on your construction journey today!


In summary, there are many benefits to building a pergola on your property. It can add value to your home, provide shade for outdoor activities and create a relaxing space that’s perfect for entertaining guests! 

If you’re looking into getting one built then we recommend contacting an experienced contractor who will be able to guide you through the entire process from start-to-finish so that everything goes smoothly.

Further Reading

Building a Pergola Without a Permit: What You Need to Know: Explore the requirements and potential consequences of building a pergola without a permit. Gain insights into the legal considerations involved in such a project.

Do You Need a Permit to Build a Pergola?: Discover the importance of obtaining the necessary permits when constructing a pergola. Learn about the specific regulations and requirements related to pergola construction permits.

Understanding the Pergola Permit Process: Dive into the details of the pergola permit process and gain a comprehensive understanding of the steps involved. Get familiar with the documentation and approvals required for a compliant pergola installation.


Can I build a pergola without a permit?

Yes, in some cases you may be able to build a pergola without a permit, depending on local regulations. However, it’s important to check with your local building authority to ensure compliance with the specific rules and requirements in your area.

What are the consequences of building a pergola without a permit?

Building a pergola without a permit can have legal consequences. You may be subject to fines, penalties, or even be required to remove the pergola if it violates zoning or building codes. It’s essential to understand and comply with the permit requirements to avoid potential issues.

How do I obtain a permit to build a pergola?

To obtain a permit for building a pergola, you typically need to submit an application to your local building authority. The application may require detailed plans, specifications, and other documentation. It’s advisable to consult with your local authorities or hire a professional to assist you with the permit application process.

What factors determine if a permit is required for a pergola?

The requirement for a permit to build a pergola can vary depending on factors such as location, size, height, and local building codes. It’s important to research and understand the specific regulations and guidelines set by your local building authority.

Can I get a retroactive permit for a pergola I built without one?

In some cases, it may be possible to obtain a retroactive permit for a pergola that was built without one. However, the process and outcome depend on local regulations and the discretion of the building authority. It’s recommended to contact your local building authority to discuss the situation and explore potential options.