Just as soon as Yom Kippur is over, we start building our Sukkah for Sukkot, which begins five days later. The sukkah should be sturdy but not TOO, shady but not TOO, and comfortable - it is supposed to be a JOYOUS holiday, and it is hard to be joyous with rain in your soup!
This is our sukkah from a couple of years ago. It's a 'kit', 8x12, and one person can put it together but it's a lot easier with two. It comes with everything but the roofing material, but the source will sell you that too, if you don't mind bamboo mats instead of cornstalks or leafy branches!
Here is a photo of me with our sukkah from last year. It was designed and built by my husband in 1989, the first year we had our own place with a yard. Its basic frame is made of redwood 4x4s, and because it uses no nails or screws but only wooden dowels and holes plus an intricate open weave of thick rope to create a net to bind the top together and serve to hold the schach, it takes 4 people to set up the frame. When we first used it in the San Francisco Bay Area, we just put the fabric around the bottom, but we added the brown tarp when we moved to colder climates. When we are empty nesters and don't have the manpower to put it up, nor the kids at home to be sad if we break with our family tradition, we will probably buy one of the super-easy to set up commercially made sukkahs.
We have a 'kit' sukkah from Steve and Judith Herman in South Carolina (www.sukkot.com). It is our second 'kit' from them, and we've had it quite a long time - ten years? I'm not certain. We sold the earlier kit to a friend - it was smaller.
Before that, we built our own 'from scratch' and it was always a job and a half! I like having the kit - after the initial purchase it is very economical, and it goes up quickly with two people. A single person could do it, but it would take a lot longer!
Our oldest daughter was home yesterday, and with three people we got the frame up and set in less than ten minutes. Then two of us picked the whole thing up and moved it to a different location (indecisiveness struck). We will put the 'walls' ('sukkah wrap') on today - its also from the Hermans - a tough, durable material like a very heavy tarp, with grommets, connected with short bungee cords. Easy, but tedious, since I have to keep getting up and down off a step ladder...maybe I should dragoon our daughter into doing it? she's a lot younger than I am!