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There's a storybook quality to gazebos. A lot of us have admired them from a distance, usually in the homes of our seemingly more affluent neighbors. Or we've stared at them in the enchanting illustrations of classic and neoclassic fairy tales. There's even a gazebo in some productions of The Sound of Music.

If we're fortunate enough to live within reasonable driving distance of a botanical garden, we've likely been able to see a gazebo up close enough to admire the craftsmanship of how all the pieces fit together, especially in the roof and cupola. We then often catch the longing to have one of our own if we have a yard. Gazebos are attractive for entertaining, for quiet time, and even for garden weddings. And a well-maintained gazebo adds to the perceived market and aesthetic value of a home, when it comes time to sell.

Gazebos come in many beautiful and intricate designs. They're often seen painted white, but many owners choose to retain and display the natural beauty of the wood. Western red cedar is particularly attractive, and the only wood in the continental United States that's really recommended for a long-lasting structure.

How Much Does a Gazebo Cost?
The price of having a gazebo built has increased with inflation in recent years, but knowing it's being built correctly by a professional can be worth the additional expense. Amusing television commercials notwithstanding, no one wants a gazebo to collapse on them, let alone on guests. Prices might be $600 to $6,000 and up, just for a kit. However, if someone is building it for you, labor costs could conceivably double that. It all depends on how elaborate of a structure you want, or can afford.

Gazebos can be as small as three feet across, if that's what your space allotment is--for example, if you are adding the structure to one end of a patio. Others can be large and rectangular, with a variety of hexagonal sizes in the moderate range. Most require a deck, but if you're setting it up on stone or brickwork, that won't be necessary.

Can I Really Build a Gazebo Myself?
If you decide to build your own gazebo, know that some basic woodworking skills are needed, even if you're assembling a kit. Building a gazebo from a plan is more daunting, but some hobbyists will relish the challenge because of the quality of the end product. However, it's not really a one-person job, especially when it comes to lifting the roof beams and sections in place. And a second pair of steadying hands is useful at all stages.

One way around all this is to use lightweight materials. You can have a professional assemble a powdered aluminum gazebo for you. Or you can put one up yourself. They're guaranteed to last at least 10 years. Other semi-permanent structures have a canvas roof, bug screens, sunscreens, privacy panels, and other accessories. The screens and panels attach with Velcro® fasteners. Canopies may or may not be waterproof, depending on whether or not the fabric is manufactured to breathe.

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