Introduction: Pergola Style Patio "Braai" Area

About: Working hard, living the 22nd century in style at home!

Hi Guys,

So this is my first Instructable so please let me know if there is anywhere I can improve or change for the better!

I purchased property about 18 months back and realised that there was not much of an entertainment area. Being South African, we spend a fair amount of time outside, so this needed to change.

Inspired by other Instructables here, I started my project in March 2016. (especially hivoltage post - I wanted the rustic style, so I know some things could be neater, however, this is the style (my wife and) I wanted.

Step 1: Clearing and Planning

So starting off, I got a friend of mine with some drawing skills to do a quick design of the area and where we needed to start.

My current house setup had no proper space for entertaining as I mentioned, and being in Sunny South Africa, we needed something big enough to sit, cook, braai, party, laugh and enjoy life!

Apart from some small bushes, there was 1 very large tree to be removed in the corner where the slab had to be laid.

Step 2: Drainage and Rain Water Control

My property is on a slight slope. Nothing crazy, but enough to move all rain water to one side of the house. At this stage, there is a drain pipe under the garage that exits exactly where the patio needs to be built, so I needed to extend this drain pipe to the lowest, furthest edge of where my patio was going to end.

I realised at this point I could use this to my advantage and took the opportunity to install an upright that could later be used for a "prep sink" on the patio itself. (more on this later).

Remember when installing any kind of "DIY" waiter drainage to TEST water flow BEFORE covering or laying permanent infrastructure.

Step 3: The Concrete Slab

Firstly we removed the existing brick paving that goes around the house. This was easily lifted and bricks kept so they could be used later.

When we looked at the area to pour concrete, we estimated that this would be about 2 cubic meters. However, we did not factor in the slight slope (and depth at the deepest point) I was referring to in Step 2. We mixed at a standard ratio of building sand, stone and cement to get the concrete mix. Also using standard mild steel mesh for reinforcement.

We mixed 2cubes of concrete to find that this did not even fill half the space.

Step 4: The Concrete Slab.. Continued

Went out a few days later and got 2 more cubic meters of sand, stone and cement. Dam.. Still just short..

Step 5: The Concrete Slab.. Completed!

Again to the store to get more sand, stone and cement for a final mix of concrete! In total we mixed just under 6 cubic meters of concrete!

Many hours of HAND mixing, sore hands and shoulders, we finally had the slab in and drying. (I didnt snap any pics, but the dogs got on a few times and left some grubby prints in the concrete. I wasn't concerned as i knew we were going to pave / tile / cover it in some way.)

Final pic here shows the interim braai (bbq) area just so we could enjoy the free time we had!

Step 6: Removing Wood Backing

Easy step - I simply pulled off and removed the wood style backing on the plain wall.

The previous owner of the house put this up to cover the untreated, plastered wall. (Behind that wall is the garage - so at one stage it must have been a Hollywood style?)

Step 7: Space Planning and Layout

At this stage, we knew we wanted a large table, braai of some size and bench style seating. So we laid out some spare bricks we had to get some estimate measurements.

I built the table from scratch at this point, which I will make an Instructable on one day. So you will see it appear in photo's from this point onwards.

(Dogs always around to help!)

Step 8: Wood Is Delivered

At this point, I found a supplier of the correct wood we needed and had this delivered.

All the designs were done in CAD (Photos to be added later) so I had the exact measurements required. However, the sawmill was not able to cut the angles required for the beams and haunches, so that I had to do myself at a later stage.

The lengths are 38x114mm standard roof trusses, and the laminated beams are 150x150mm South African Pine.

Step 9: Nuts, Bolts, Hangers and Feet

So the following happened over the space of about 8 weekends worth of work. So not in the exact order, but I can let you know what was done.

We measured, counted and organised everything so we knew what bolts to get for the truss hangers. The truss hangers off the back wall were easy, as the wood would be meeting perpendicular, however, where the trusses were meeting the existing house was a little more difficult. Using some brains, dropline, chalk and AutoCAD, we made our angled truss hangers out of hardened steel. (Dont have any pictures of the making of these as this was all done offsite)

The actual feet were easy, simple 150mm "cup" out of hardened steel with a 23mm rebar welded to the bottom.

The major challenge came in with leveling the feet into the concrete slab as to build the Pergola around them. We erected the Pergola 3 times in a tempory manner to confirm all was exactly level, straight and strong. Additionally, as the slab had be laid at an angle to ensure correct water run off, each post foot had to be a different level. This was to ensure the Pergola roof was level at the end.

We used Hilti Chemical Anchor to fix the feet into the floor when in place, and warning for those who have not used this product - it gets VERY hot and can BURN anything to a crisp!

Step 10: Cutting and Chiseling

This is the point where we put paper into reality and started to cut and shape the wood.

Wood like this in South Africa is 1. not easy to get your hands on and 2. very expensive if you can get it. So, we did not want to make any mistakes.

We confirmed our cut, chisel points, angles and cut away.

(This was also in the 8ish weeks of weekend work, had some mates over to help as some of this wood was +100kg)

Step 11: The Final Erection!

After so many test builds of the Pergola, it was an amazing sight to see the woodwork up, tightened and correctly fitted. Also incredibly satisfying to see the joins come together within 1mm of the CAD designs.

(Now you can see the table I built, mentioned earlier)

Also at this point some time, I purchased the braai itself. This was a long decision between wood, coal or gas powered braai (barbecue) as this influenced the final design of the counter tops, backing of the existing wall, chimney (flue) and roofing.

We wanted the Pergola covered, as where we stay, it often rains late afternoon, but not for long. So you dont want to huddle inside the house.

Step 12: Brick Frame for Counter Tops

I built the frame for the counter tops out of the leftover bricks, and a few new ones.

My brickwork leaves much to be desired, however, as I knew this was just a frame, and would eventually be covered in wood (bar style), I was not concerned about it being straight or square.

As I had now purchased the gas braai (MegaMaster Blaze 600 Black) I could design the layout of the plumbing, drainage, location of the prep areas, prep sink and cupboards. Into the brickwork went the pipes for drainage.

Step 13: Tiling and Lighting

I cannot tile to save my live, so I had this done by my tiler.

The lighting on the other hand, was my handy work. Using a "ClickOn" wireless dimmer relay with a 300w max output, I put 13 dimmable bulbs loosely hanging on their own weight ad-hoc over the main area. This gets intensely bright, and more than enough light to cook when the sun goes down.

Step 14: Counter Tops

Between management and I (my wife), we toyed between different options for the counter top. Granite would have been the most appropriate, however, using Postform laminated counter tops we cut the price by up to 90% (literally)

Step 15: Covered Roof - Modek

Sourcing this in South Africa was also a major headache! However, once I got my hands on the 50% opacity, UV protected, corrugated, bronze sheeting, installation was relatively easy!

We had our first storm of the season here, and 2 sheets were not secured enough. This tossed the sheets about 100m (300ft) into different properties, as well as throwing wood offcuts, onto my tiles - smashing them.

Step 16: Cupboard Installation

The cupboards under the counter were made using reclaimed pallet wood. I built them onto the brick frame leaving space for 2 doors, 1 either side of the braai.

Painted with a dark grey, woodwash outdoor paint, and a clear varnish.

Hinges and handles were simple brass fittings bought at the hardware.

Step 17: Final Tiling and Plumbing

We replaced the tiles that were smashed in the storm, (and offcuts of heavy wood removed), tiled the edge step, and finally tiled the back wall of the braai area. We went with the darker tiles on the back to keep the vibe with the face bricks.

I finally plumbed in the tap and got the water flowing!

Step 18: Breaking Through

We made a big leap and decided to knock out the window of the TV room, and install shutter doors! It has been a huge improvement to the social aspect of the house and the entertainment area as a whole!! We love it!

I dont think it needs much explanation apart from the pictures..

Step 19: Final Finishes

So I have added this into 1 final step, as over the last year, I have been doing bit by bit.

As you can see from the pics, the following has been done:

  • We added a wood "screen" over the main wall as to stop the noise from annoying the neighbours. This also turned out well for stopping rain from coming in from the side, if we were out at that time. It was heavy AF, and it took much manoeuvring to get it up!
  • We got some suitable furniture for the patio! Old tan leather with cast iron frames and wood tops.
  • I finished off the upright feet (or bases). I used upscaled palet wood with a small camber and it actually made for a nice round shape. The tops are just MDF cut round with a square out the middle. (Perfect for 1 beer!)
  • What was a fantastic improvement was the installation of the water mister system? It uses high pressure to press out a mist so fine, that it doesn't wet anything, but cools the air significantly! The DIY set was given to me as a gift from someone who knows I love DIY. One of the best gift ideas I have had for the 40° summer South Africa afternoons.
  • I added a 22v power point by the sink for anything really - often gets used for music when we outside.
  • If you were astute enough to notice, we tiled the inside of the main house - the whole house!

So I think I am done.. about 30 months of work... Time to actually enjoy it!!

Please share and comment and let me know if there is anything I can do better?
Thanks! Jimbo!