Getting a fence built correctly can take a little bit of pre-planning as well as doing some serious research yourself or hiring a good skilled professional. It can be quite a bit harder than one might expect and it does need to be handled in the right way so that your new fence doesn't fall into your neighbor's pool! The Jone's next door might be upset to wake up to find it in their new pool.
1. Why a Fence?
You want a fence! While "why" you want a fence might be obvious, a good contractor will ask you this question. Knowing why you want a fence is important in choosing what type of fence and material will be best, the height of construction, placement of the fence, and the locations and types of gates.
A fence can be built to keep something in, keep something or someone out, reduce noise, block an unwanted view, or to add aesthetics. There are safety factors to consider in the material, construction, and height of the fence. For example:
A four foot high fence with a dog chained nearby might be low enough for the dog to jump. The dog could be injured and jumping while chained could even be fatal. Gates and locks will be a consideration when building a fence meant to keep children out of a swimming pool.
In a high crime area, a fence built for protection can instead increase risk; if the fence blocks the view of neighbors or the public, criminals often feel safe to operate there.
2. Where a Fence?
While the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence, you don't want that to be your grass over there! Nor do you want to find out after all the construction is done, your fence is not yours at all, but on someone else's property.
Fences probably cause more neighbor disputes than any other interaction. While you might have every right to build a fence, running your plan by your neighbors might save you some headaches. Whether you talk to them or not make you sure you know where your fence is going to be built.
- find the property stakes that mark the boundaries
- get a copy of your survey and measure your property
- have a survey performed
Check and double check and make sure the fence lines are clearly marked for your contractor.
3. What's Up... and Down?
Most every fence is anchored by some type of posts that go below the ground. Many posts are placed in holes filled with concrete. The depth of the holes should be based on the height of the anchors or posts, the type of fence, and the area's seasonable weather. 18" to 24" are common depths. If your fence is to require any digging many areas require a call to check underground utilities. These services will use spray paint to mark where cables and such are buried. An advance notice of a few days to sometimes several weeks before your project begins is required. The paint will generally last several weeks.
Depending on the area a search with a metal detector might also be desirable. These can pick up old pipelines, buried objects from past demolitions, and other obstructions that could cause delays.
In any case, when you hire a contractor make sure the preliminary work is done and understand who is going to be responsible for getting the property marked. Get that agreement in writing on your contract.
Make sure you look in the opposite direction of the ground also - up! Trees with low branches on your property (or your neighbors) might need to be trimmed before your fence can be built. Some might even be right in your fence line and need to be removed. Tree roots can also be a headache for the contractor and should be considered.
4. Is My Fence Legal?
Find out if your fence will be legal before you build. Most municipalities have laws regarding fences. These laws commonly include:
- What kinds of fences are allowed
- Height restrictions
- Permits required
- Plans be submitted
Check with your local government for more information.
5. How Will My Fence Get There?
Fence materials can often be heavy and delivered by large trucks. Many fences are built in areas that are tough to access. Talk with your contractor about the best way to get materials delivered. They might need to cross your neighbors' property to get to you. Hopefully by now you have become good friends with them!
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