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Trying to build a metal pole sukkah... I was wondering if anyone had experience building one from scratch using stuff from a local Lowes or Home Depot. I was going to use PVC piping but that sways and isn't so steady with winds we sometimes get. I basically want to make a sukkah that looks like the ones from a kit but without spending hundreds of dollars.

I can get tarps for the walls, zip ties to attach the poles to the tarps... I just need to figure out how to get the poles and have them stick together.

  • Imma, Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! I'm sorry that my answer is a bit discouraging; I wish you success in coming up with an affordable, effective solution. You may find some of the responses to this previous question helpful. – Isaac Moses Sep 5 '17 at 3:53
  • I don't know if this helps at all, but when I ordered my metal-pole sukkah I asked if I could get just the poles, as I already had walls (and s'chach) from my previous sukkah. They were happy to sell me those at a lower price, though most of the cost is the poles so it wasn't a massive discount. – Monica Cellio Sep 5 '17 at 19:56
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I doubt that it's possible to recreate a kit-like metal sukka frame without spending hundreds of dollars, at least not without creative sourcing of the materials (e.g. finding them in a junk yard, or something).

A few years ago, I bought raw materials to extend an existing round-aluminum-tube-based kit I had (not like the newfangled kits with rectangle-cross-sectioned poles). I shopped around, and the best source I found for the tubes was http://metalsdepot.com. So let's take a look at their prices to get a ballpark estimate for the poles.

To match my kit, I ordered 6061 Aluminum Round Tube with an outer diameter of 1" and an inner diameter of .75". Other specifications may work, too, but unless you know how to do the engineering, I'd recommend against skimping on the thickness. Let's say you want to make a 6' cube without any horizontal or vertical members in the middles; that'll require 12 6' poles. The price at Metals Depot right now for those 12 tubes is $262. I'm not sure what the right dimensions of 6063 Aluminum Square Tube would be, but the comparable size there costs $253 for 12.

Add to that 8 connectors for the corners. I don't have handy records of which ones I used or how much they cost, but I suspect that 8 of them will probably cost around $100 or more. Note that these are pretty heavy-duty metal devices.

I conclude that the cost of new raw materials for a normal-sized metal sukka frame probably starts at at least $300 and hoes up from there with size and complexity.

  • I can neither verify nor dispute the costs mentioned above. Judging from prices that I've seen in the NYC area, a pipe / canvas succah costs about $300 - $400 for the smallest one (I think those are 8ft x 8 ft.) and it includes the canvas and schach. If you do it yourself, you'll still have to buy schach which can cost almost as much as the entire succah itself! You can use tarp instead of the pre-fit canvas. IMO, the pipe ones are the sturdiest and by far easiest to store, The panels are huge and heavy and tend to crack. In my area, a number of people give away their old succot (i.e free) – DanF Sep 5 '17 at 13:35
  • @DanF It's quite possible that some of the kits actually cost less than the sum of their raw materials would be on the retail market, thanks to economies of scale in the kit-makers' purchasing them. Or maybe modern kits get away with using significantly less-expensive metal members than the older kits (such as the one I had) used. In any case, it seems to me that buying the raw materials new is going to cost hundreds of dollars. – Isaac Moses Sep 5 '17 at 13:44
  • Oh well. I found parts that should work and would make it pretty cheap but they don't sell the main connector type... The L with the vertical slot as well that one would need for a corner. Without schach it could have been a lot cheaper but without that part it is worthless. I don't live in NY- otherwise the second hand market makes sense! – Imma Sep 5 '17 at 15:07
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Here's the sukkah I used to use until I got a dedicated sukkah deck.

Frame:

  • The frame is made of 3/4" EMT conduit. Get it at Home Depot for $4.20 per piece. This is the same stuff the sukkah project uses and is used by many outdoor builders to build DIY greenhouses, awnings, etc. It comes in 10 ft legnths, but they will cut if for you in store. Most walls are designed for 8 ft high sukkahs, so you probably want to make your vertical poles 8 ft high. It's probably best to figure out your walls first then get the tubes cut to size.
  • Connectors: You'll need non-standard corner connectors you can from a DIY greenhouse store for $3.38 each or 4 for $11.49.

Walls:

Roof:

  • 8.5' long 2x4 boards (or make your sukkah a little thinner and use 8 ft boards). for $3.46 at HD, although I've always found better lumber at Lowe's than HD. 1x3s will also work fine.

  • S'khach: Drive around your neighborhood in the late morning until you find someone doing some tree trimming and offer to take all their branches. Alternatively, find someone who has bamboo growing in their yard. They may even pay you to take some of it.

Total cost for an 8x8 sukkah:

  • 12 pieces EMT conduit: $50.40
  • 8 corner connectors: 22.98
  • 2 tarps: $13.98
  • 1 box tie wraps: $2
  • 5 boards to hold up skhach: $20.76

total: $110.12

Comporable 8x8 sukkahs:

  • the sukkah project: $360
  • Sukkah world: $439
  • Sukkah Depot: $469
  • Judaica Savings: $589

Now that's just the list for an 8x8 sukkah with three walls covered and one open. Feel free to get creative - all you really need is more 3/4" EMT conduit and connectors, which Home Depot or buildmyowngreenhouse will be happy to sell you (as well as many other places online - google for more). You can make any number of sizes and shapes as you see fit. The tarps too come in many lengths, you can have multiple doors if you want. It is much, much, cheaper than ordering a sukkah kit.

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