Unless you’re a contractor who does pergolas, the pergola market is pretty much one-and-done. Very few people (even DIY!) are familiar with pergola designs, post spacings, roof dimensions, post attachments, shade options, etc., etc. the list goes on! It’s important to find a pergola kit manufacturer, dealer, or contractor that can service you from start to finish. You’re likely to only go through this process once in your life – so what specific questions should you be asking? What qualities should you be looking for? Let’s take a look!
Whether information is helpful or not, if you do not receive it in a timely matter it’s useless! A lot of people only have a specific timeframe or day of the week to really make progress on their pergola kit project. A good pergola kit manufacturer, dealer or contractor is going to provide you an answer that same day. A great one will have an answer for you within an hour – and the best will have an answer for you instantly. There are plenty of situations that come up during pergola projects – let’s quickly look at a common example that just happened this last weekend:
A DIY customer goes to the box store on Saturday morning to buy a few fasteners to complete his pergola’s installation. He lives 30 minutes away from the box store. This customer forgot his installation guide at home and couldn’t remember the specific fasteners he was supposed to purchase for his post installation. Did he:
You’d be surprised how many experiences are forced to go with Answer A. A lot of install guides or directions are very vague or don’t specify what works best for different applications. Answer B works only if you’re pretty savvy on your phone and can easily navigate to the correct page, find the install guide, and then find the necessary information in the install guide. This is hit or miss – it may take you 10 minutes and you’re good to go, or you may burn 30 minutes and have made no progress. Option C sounds terrible but this is probably the most common option for people that aren’t working with a highly responsive company. You can’t get a hold of anyone, you don’t want to wait until Monday or next week, so you need to go home and find the information to make any progress.
Option D is where you want to be. There are very, very few pergola kit manufacturers, dealers or contractors that are going to be there for you right away any day of the week. At a family business like Heartland Pergolas it is extremely important that we alleviate any potential problems that may arise for you. We also don’t just want to help your problems disappear, we want them to go away as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is just plain rare in the industry we work in – and we pride ourselves on being in that unique status. It is all too common for a pergola kit customer to ask an installation-related question, a design question, or to be looking for a quote and have no response for 24-72 hours. Choose wisely.
A vast majority of the pergola kit market is out there making it up as they go. An easy way to distinguish if your manufacturer, dealer or contractor has credibility is to ask if these types of tangibles are available. If they are legit, they should have 100’s, if not 1,000’s of pictures available of their pergola kits. There should be drawings specifying post spacings, dimensions, center-to-center measurements, etc. Their written installation guides should be exhaustive and clear enough that any DIY’er could follow. If they’re really good, they’ll have some sort of video installation guides or some videos on common difficulties. There are a very high amount of pergola kits out there that simply have little (if any) of these tangibles associated with their product.
A good way to build your confidence with the company you will purchase from is to go to their website and play around for 15-20 minutes with their information. If you’re going to spend $5,000-$10,000 on a pergola it only makes sense to make sure they are legit. Poke and prod at their customer service – if you call the number listed did someone answer? If they have a chat box did someone who was actually able to help you respond or did they just take your basic info and send you on your way? Check the reviews of their product on a couple different platforms you found using a search engine on their name. Doing a small amount of due diligence could save you a ton of time and hassle throughout your pergola project.
The last category I’d suggest looking for is tangible documentation for any and all testing that has been done on a specific pergola kit. It’s not uncommon for Homeowners’ Associations asking for engineering stamps on your pergola kit before you install it. Maybe you need fire ratings for the type of materials you’re using? How in the world do you provide things like this if you’re just making it up as you go? We do vinyl pergola kits at Heartland Pergolas and constantly send out snow load information to customers up North and vinyl flame ratings to customers in the South. If someone is trying to charge you a premium to go buy some wood from a local lumberyard and build “a pergola kit” out of it, you’re simply out of luck if you run into these common roadblocks.
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