Remodeling or replacing your patio cover can breathe new life into an old-fashioned and dull backyard. You’ve seen examples of patio covers you love. You’ve gotten ideas from the internet, magazines, and friends. But are you ready to undertake the installation all by yourself? Or would hiring a professional builder be the better choice?
In this article, we will give some helpful guidelines to let you know if you should address the patio cover project as DIY or reach out to professionals.
Simple and Straightforward? Go It Alone
Patio covers are as special and unique as the homes to which they are connected. If you’re comfortable with basic handiwork, measuring accurately, using a skill saw and climbing a ladder, you can possibly build a simple patio cover on your own. Remember, a big part of any home improvement project is confidence solving problems on the spot because every project presents its own set of unpredicted issues. Nevertheless, if your patio cover falls into these categories, you should be able to handle the installation yourself:
Detached from the home – Freestanding patio covers are easier to manage for the layperson than those that are attached to the home’s exterior via ledger board. Self-contained pergolas are great options because they can be fitted right up against the outside of your home without needing to be attached to the house’s structure.
Mostly flat roof – If your patio cover features only a slight angle for rain drainage, it could be a candidate for installing on your own. Remember, a covered porch can trap water and experience drainage problems if its angle is too thin, so make this decision accurately and carefully. The minimum angle for a covered patio is 1/4:12. This means you’ll need 1/4 inch rise for every 12 inches of run. For open-slat patio covers, the angle is less important, since water will drain through.
Small covers — Patio covers that are under 200 square feet are mostly easy to achieve by the average person with a basic knowledge of carpentry. Anything over 200 square feet becomes much heavier and requires a more in-depth knowledge of city codes and supports.
Complex, Cavernous or Customized? Leave It to the Pros
Working with a professional builder greatly increases your investment, but also buys you peace of mind. Their intimate understanding of structural integrity, materials, mathematics, and local building codes ensures that you’ll get a patio cover that not only makes somebody’s day but stands up to the weather and won’t result in safety code infractions.
Here are the circumstances where it’s better to hire a professional builder:
Pitched roof — The slant of your patio cover should fit pleasingly with the style of your home. For many, that means a serious pitch. If your patio cover requires an angle of any significance, design and installation will require accurate mathematical calculation for safe installation. Let a professional builder or engineer handle it.
Large areas — As soon as the size of the patio cover grows, the design may fall under different safety protocols. As shear load increases, accurate engineering and construction become risky. Work with a professional builder or engineer to make sure that your patio cover is not only safe in all weather conditions but also meets all local or state building code requirements.
Attached patios — If the patio cover is going to be connected to your house using a ledger board, call in a professional builder. Attached patio covers require clean removal of the exterior surface of the house, accurately attaching the ledger board, safely attaching the patio structure, then refinishing the exterior. In many instances, warranties on exterior finish products may be voided if you attach anything to the home. Thus, building an attached patio cover properly means leaving it to a professional builder.
Setting up your own patio cover is a great project to get your feet wet in the home improvement arena. If you want a true and tried basic design, wood or aluminum patio cover kits provide you with what you need to get started immediately. However, if you want a patio cover that has any feature beyond a flat, small-sized, detached structure, you’re wise to reach out to professional builders. The extra expense is worth it.