Who: Chris S.
Where: Warwick, New York
My wife, Deb, got the idea from a picture in a magazine. We put the pergola in a 20-by-20-foot former garden spot, where trees had blocked the sun.
I thought this project looked easy, but it was a true test of my relationship with my wife— and my kids. My 18-year-old son, Brendan, and his friends helped me level the spot, digging down 3 inches in front and building up 2 inches in back. (Next time I'd rent a backhoe and do it in two hours, not two months.) We looked for salvaged columns but in the end bought new ones made of resin. Two friends helped me dig four 4-foot holes with an auger. A couple of weekends and 20 bags of Quikrete later, we had four piers holding 4x4 posts. We slipped the columns on and off the posts, using shims to get them snug and vertical.