Gaze Upon My Gazebo: Isn’t It Gamazing?!

So, you’re looking to add some outdoor living space? A gazebo is an excellent choice. They are ideal places to just sit, relax and unwind. These structures are also great for casual gatherings with family and neighbors. Ever host a gazebo party?

Before you get too far down the gazebo road, take the time to think about the details. Planning before starting construction heads off potential issues.

Hurdle Number One: Legality

Increasingly, county and city ordinances restrict additional buildings on residential lots. If you live in a subdivision with strict codes, your neighbors also have a say about your project. Gazebos may not be permitted, so first check your neighborhood covenants.

Next, check city and county building codes. The builder’s permit requirement varies by city and county, so cover all the legal permit bases before starting. Yeah, I know; you thought you owned the property. Well, you do, sort of, especially at tax time.

Sizing Estimate

If your local codes do not restrict size and layout, your imagination and budget are the only limitations to your outdoor living space project.

To properly size your gazebo, do a little ciphering. How many live in the home? How many friends, neighbors and other family members would you ever plan to have at the gazebo at any given time? Add all these up; then, add an additional 25 percent of space.

As an example, plan five square feet of space per person. For instance, if your total number of family, neighbors and friends is ten, multiply 10 x 5 to get 50 square feet of gazebo space.

Adding another 25 percent increases the total square footage by roughly 12 feet. Yes, I know it is actually 12.5 feet, but what is a half a foot between friends and family? Your total floor plan is then 62 square feet.

For the needed 62 square feet, keep it simple. Plan to build an 8’ by 8’ floor slab. That gives you 64 square feet, and that is more than the aforementioned 62 square feet, or five square feet allotted for each person plus 25 percent.

Layout

With a rough calculation of the gazebo size, designing the space is the next step of the project. Using the ten occupant calculation, include seating for ten people.

Benches with cushions on the perimeter of the structure are a simple and quick option. Other outdoor furnishings present limitless seating arrangements.

Outdoor kitchens are another potential addition that can turn an everyday, run-of-the-mill gazebo into party central at gazeboville. Attached to the perimeter of the main floor plan, they will not reduce the actual square footage of the gazebo.

The kitchen option, its location, and what it will contain present a whole host of design possibilities for you to consider.

Ever thought about a deck or decks for your gazebo? These uncovered additions give added space and can do double duty as tanning decks if you locate the gazebo in a private area.

Location, Location, Location

Perhaps the most critical decision is location. Ever try to move a completed gazebo? To determine the best location, consider these factors.

Do you want it as a standalone, central feature of the yard, or do you want it to blend in with the other landscaping?

How close to the house do you want it? Should it be nestled against one corner of the porch or deck, or do you prefer to locate it some distance from the main house?

Keep in mind that locating it across the yard creates paths, and paths do not make for an attractive lawn. Walkways are also difficult to mow and trim neatly.

Ultimately, the purpose for the structure, and how frequently you plan to use it, pretty much dictate location.

Building Materials

Use treated lumber, steel or other weather resistant materials for construction and furnishings. Build it high enough off the ground to be able to access it from underneath. If you plumb or wire it, crawl space is essential.

Make sure the ground underneath is flat and lay down a plastic moisture barrier. Be sure to completely seal off access to the area underneath. Install a tight-fitting access door to keep out snakes, stray animals and other pests.

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