So you're planning to build a gazebo...thanks to the Internet, blueprints for a variety of gazebo designs are only a few clicks away. Let's review the basic steps. Here's how to build a gazebo:
- Assess your site. Begin by surveying your site. Assess your soil type and drainage, and try to get a sense of how you will use the outdoor gazebo. You'll need to work with what you have, whether it's a postage-stamp-size lawn or several rolling acres. In other words, if you have a small space, you may eventually have to abandon "gothic" for "cozy." But remember that it's not just what you have, but what you do with what you have.
- Make a site map. Sketch in your garden gazebo where you think it will look best using accurate measurements to scale for your yard and the gazebo you intend to build. Transferring your ideas onto paper, thereby creating garden and gazebo blueprints, will give you a good idea if you have the proportion and placement right. Keep traffic patterns in mind as well. If you plan to entertain in your gazebo, sending folks over the hill and through the woods to get there might seem romantic or, on second thought, thoroughly impractical.
- Window shop. By looking at a myriad of options-which you can easily do online-you will begin to narrow your choices down. You can perform your search by feature, i.e. "gazebo cupola," "gazebo screen," and so on, making a checklist of features as you go. See as many garden gazebos as possible before choosing one for your yard. Allow yourself some flights of fancy as you research. Though the size of your yard-and your budget-may bring you back down to earth, this is a good time to unleash your imagination. Whatever it is that you like about the 8-foot tall cupola may not translate directly to the gazebo you will build, but will help you to flesh out your preferences, be they air circulation, light, or simply an over-the-top style.
- Ask questions. Once you've narrowed your choices down, use the 1-800 number or the e-mail form of the manufacturer to ask specific questions about how well your proposed use matches the different gazebo plans that are available. This is where your earlier site assessment will help-find out if the soil composition and drainage of your proposed site will affect the gazebo you plan to build. You'll be able to glean a lot about a company from how it responds to your queries. If you're not satisfied with the response, move on until you find a company that takes your concerns seriously.
- Purchase your gazebo plans. As a budget shopper myself, I might be inclined to get free gazebo plans via BuildEazy. But truly, the best advice I can give you here is to purchase the plan that sings to your heart, from a company that appears reputable. Check the company's return policy, "testimonials," and whatever else you can to get a feel for the company's reputation. Being a bit of a spelling czar myself, I always find gross spelling errors to be a sure sign of a less-than-reputable company (note to self-remember to spell-check this article).
- Begin. Whether you're building from scratch or from a prepackaged gazebo kit with instructions freshly downloaded, the order of your process will be the same. Begin with the base and flooring, establish the supports (posts and walls), and then segue to the roof and cupola. The DIYNetwork has a step by step guide that holds your hand through every stage of the process -- whether you're working from gazebo kits or from scratch. Another great step by step guide to building your gazebo can be found at HGTV.
- Print the instructions out. Though we're used to doing everything online these days, you'll want a printed copy of instructions that you can highlight, dog-ear, and have with you up on a ladder as you build your gazebo. They also come in handy for ripping up in frustration upon occasion.
Remember to keep your eye on the prize. Be glad that you're building a gazebo, and not remodeling your kitchen. And finally, don't forget to buy some some little drink umbrellas for a post-construction toast to a job well done!