Basic Considerations
If you're planning to use your new gazebo for dining or entertaining, build one that's at least 12 ft. in diameter. Anything narrower than that will be too small to accommodate a table and chairs or more than six people at a time. However, if the gazebo is going to be built in the middle of a garden to serve more as an architectural accent than as a meeting place, an 8 ft. or smaller structure will suffice. Before you erect a gazebo, call the building department to determine whether you need a permit. (In some towns, a permit is only required for structures larger than 10 ft.) The local building code will also dictate the type of foundation needed. Again, it differs from town to town, but in most areas gazebos smaller than 10 ft. can be built on concrete blocks or pressure-treated timbers set right on the ground. Larger ones must be supported by poured-concrete footings dug down to the frost line. If you live in a mild climate where frost isn't a concern, dig the footings at least 18 in. deep or pour a 4-in.-thick concrete slab to serve as the gazebo floor. Siting the gazebo is another important consideration. First, never build at the bottom of a hill where water collects. Pick a level or, better yet, elevated spot that gets some sun; if the gazebo is in shade all the time, mold and mildew will grow on the roof. Also, clear at least 2 ft. of space around all sides to allow air to circulate and to give you access to make repairs. Trim back low-lying bushes and ground cover from around the base to allow fresh air to circulate under the floor. Damp, stagnant air trapped under the gazebo will attract insects and promote rot. Most gazebos only require one entrance, but if you're going to build one 15 ft. or larger a second entrance on the opposite side might make sense. That will allow people to come and go freely without having to cut through the main interior space.
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