DIY Sukkah Project Guide: Sukkot on a Budget

Moshe and Dovi step into the same Sukkah, but their perspectives couldn’t be more different. Moshe sees that the “Sukkah’s up,” while Dovi sees beyond the actual structure, and perceives how the Sukkah is a living embodiment of this holiday’s wisdom.

The difference? Dovi built the Sukkah himself, while Moshe didn’t.

In this way, halacha is like an iceberg. Presentation of halacha so often scratches the surface, to just give us a decisive list of dos and don’ts. It takes delving deeper below the surface by actually putting it into practice to uncover halacha’s hidden treasure trove of wisdom.

And that’s what we’ll be presenting in this article. Not a comprehensive step-by-step manual to cover everything you can and cannot do when building a Sukkah, but a guide to the basic principles of putting what’s on paper into practice, to let you experience the hidden wisdom of Sukkot…and of course give you a Sukkah your bubby will kvelling about the entire holiday.

Dive in to find out:

  • Kosher or not? Decoding the basic Sukkah rules.
  • The essential gear for building a DIY Sukkah.
  • How to build a DIY Sukkah frame and add the Schach

What makes a Sukkah Kosher?

Before you can start building, you need a basic overview of the minimum requirements for a Kosher Sukkah , so you can figure out exactly how big or small you’d like to make it, whilst staying within halachic requirements.

Here’s a handy list of the minimum requirements for your DIY Sukkah frame:

  1. Minimum measurements of 7 Tefachim (handbreadths) in length by 7 Tefachim in width and 10 Tefachim in height. This roughly corresponds to 22”x22”x32” – a place large enough to accommodate at least one person.
  2. There’s no maximum width, but there is a maximum height of 20 Amot, corresponding to 31′ 6″ (so feel free to make your custom Sukkah wide enough for the neighbors to start wondering if you’re building a small football stadium).
  3. The Schach  (roofing of the Sukkah) must be constructed in a way that provides more shade than sun, and be of natural materials that grow from the ground, are detached from the ground, and do not receive tum’ah (impurity) – your best bet is to pick up Schach from a reputable company with a kosher certification (our Schach carry the OU symbol).
  4. The walls of the Sukkah must be rigid enough to withstand a normal wind. This is the most relevant when it comes to Pop Up Sukkahs and cheap Sukkahs since they are generally made from malleable or cheaper materials.
  5. The Sukkah materials must not be stolen (so no five-finger discounts at Home Depot!), or it’s not kosher.

Like most people, your head might be spinning by now, making sense of all these halachic requirements. This is why another time-tested favorite is to turn to your friendly neighborhood Sukkah-seller, who has already worked out a variety of sleek designs with a hassle-free set-setup, to suit your needs. You can then make it your own with decorations (which you can read all about in under 5mins, with our Sukkah Decorating Masterclass )

Essential Sukkah Gear: Proper Materials

Now that you’ve gone over the basic halachic requirements and decided on your size, it’s time to turn your DIY Sukkah plans to the material for the frame. Home Depot is a particular favorite for the DIY Sukkah enthusiast, who will find a treasure trove of possibilities, including an array of woods, sturdy metal options, and PVC pipes in various hues for an affordable and unique PVC Sukkah!

(Something to note: if you're using PVC pipe to build your Sukkah, be careful that it will be strong enough to withstand wind - both from a safety standpoint and halacha. We only use heavy duty steel for our frames for added safety and stability).

Want something light and easy to assemble? Opt for durable yet lightweight materials like cedar, treated pine or bamboo poles. Concerned about stability on windy days? Consider a slightly heavier option like redwood or steel poles to anchor your Sukkah firmly to the ground.

Why not draw inspiration from sleek designs that pair lightweight canvas walls , with solid steel poles, to ensure your Sukkah is a breeze to put up, without getting blown away by it! In short: With a homemade Sukkah, you can craft a Sukkah as unique as you.

…although even the biggest DIY enthusiast will admit that the easiest Sukkah (and probably cheapest Sukkah) to put up is by far, the classic Pop-Up Sukkah,  which literally pops up in one swift motion – no assembly required! For a more classical and simple Sukkah while still being affordable, our recommendation is The Sieger Sukkah - built on a sturdy frame and goes up in no time.

Sukkah Fort Knox: A Frame that Won’t Budge

When it comes to building the frame for your Sukkah, it's all about coming up with a sturdy, yet breathable design. Whether you're working with wooden beams or flexible PVC pipes, the key is to follow a straightforward plan that prioritizes stability. This is especially crucial if you live in an area known for gusty winds or unpredictable weather patterns.

It’s worth taking time to ensure that each joint is securely connected. Consider adding extra reinforcements at key stress points to enhance the overall durability of your Sukkah frame, such as diagonal braces at each corner. These braces act like support beams, distributing the weight evenly and preventing any weak spots that could compromise the structure during harsh weather.

When it comes to keeping your Sukkah grounded, a solid structure is just one piece of the puzzle, unlike many Sukkahs crafted by experts with the precise blend of sturdy poles and lightweight canvas, a DIY Sukkah will likely need to be tied down. Use heavy-duty straps or ropes to secure each corner firmly to the ground or nearby structures. Think of it as giving your Sukkah a sturdy hug – it's not going anywhere!

For added peace of mind, consider using anchor kits designed specifically for outdoor structures. With your Sukkah securely tethered, you can enjoy the holiday, knowing that your Sukkah will stay put and enjoy it with you.

DIY vs. Ready-to-go Schach Mats

And then there’s the cherry on top – your  Schach . If you don’t feel like going on a scavenger hunt for Schach that meets the halachic requirements outlined in point 3. of our Sukkah Standards, head to your friendly neighborhood Sukkah-seller again! 

Make sure that your Schach will come with a proper kosher certification, confirming all Kashrut requirements have been met (ours carry the OU Mehadrin certification).

Our conclusion? Making a DIY Sukkah can be a blast (especially the day after Yom Kippur, which is the traditional time to begin). It's like adult LEGO that your children can get involved in, but with spiritual depth and fewer accidental foot injuries (hopefully). Sure, you could buy an affordable, pre-fab Sukkah  for a hassle-free setup, but your DIY Sukkah is a fantastic excuse to use power tools without judgment, and show off your questionable carpentry skills to family and friends. So grab some lumber and unleash your inner Bob the Builder.

Stay Safe & Chag Sameach!