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Rooftop Pergola Home Projects

Rooftop Pergola Home Projects
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Photo/Art by Annie Card
When Dan Thibeault moved into his second-floor condominium in a rehabbed 1830s-era mill building in Peterborough, New Hampshire, he didn’t let a little thing like lack of ground space get in the way of creating a garden area. Thibeault, a chef and painter, set his sights on transforming a “boring” long-and-narrow rooftop section just off his living room into a summer retreat, replete with potted plants and trees, wrought-iron fencing, and a small seating area overlooking a nearby river.

But it wasn’t until he’d built a small pergola that Thibeault felt as though he’d finally conquered the space. “It divides things up,” he says. “You have a choice: You can either sit with the flowers and vegetables or sit under the shade in the pergola.”

Process to Build Rooftop Pergola

To stay on track with the condo developer’s “green” building guidelines, Thibeault hired Jeff Labrie, owner of Greenwave LLC in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, an outfit that specializes in eco-friendly construction.

For the rails and spindles, they bypassed pressure-treated lumber — a popular but chemically treated material for deck framing — in favor of mahogany, which has a natural resistance to rot and the dampness of New England winters. As a cost-saving measure, the rafters, a series of 2×10-inch boards, were made out of spruce, and then protected, like the rest of the structure, with a coat of white paint.

To fend off moisture between the building-side ledger board and the brick exterior, Labrie mounted the 10-foot-long beam on several 3-inch-thick mahogany blocks, attached to the brick via 4-inch lag bolts. There were also a few design flourishes.

Thibeault, a self-described “column freak,” anchored the pergola’s look with a pair of antique pillars that he’d picked up at an architectural salvage shop. Another touch: The slanted eave endings match those on the parent building. Overall, the project took two days to complete.

Cost to Build Rooftop Pergola

Just under $2,400 for labor and materials, including the pillars (four for $60)



“When you see it from the road, it’s kind of intriguing,” Thibeault says. “People will come up to me and say, ‘Oh wow, I notice you have a pergola up there.’ ”


Greenwave LLC, New Ipswich, NH. 603-878-1186
Vermont Salvage, White River Junction, VT. 802-295-7616;

Ian Aldrich


Ian Aldrich


Senior editor of Yankee Magazine: Ian, a native New Englander who has worked and freelanced for Yankee for the past decade, writes feature stories, home pieces, and helps manage the magazine's up-front section, First Light. His stories have ranged from exploring the community impact from a church poisoning in a small town in northern Maine to dissecting the difficulties facing Nantucket around its problems with erosion. In addition to his connection to Yankee, Ian worked as a senior editor of Cincinnati Magazine for several years.
Updated Sunday, May 11th, 2014

One Response to Rooftop Pergola Home Projects

  1. October 29, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    Building pergolas for outdoor living can be great idea.

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