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What Should I Consider Before Installing a Fence?

Hillary Flynn
Updated May 16, 2024
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Privacy is important to many homeowners, and the quickest way to gain a bit of outside seclusion from the neighbors is to install a privacy fence. Other homeowners opt for a fence as a containment measure to keep pets safe within the boundaries of the property, and still more simply want something to enhance the visual aesthetic of the home. Whatever the reason for the installation, and whether a homeowner opts for a wooden privacy fence, decorative wrought iron, or simple chain link to keep pets in the yard, there are several factors that should be considered before the installation ensues.

First, before any fencing is purchased, it is vital to know the accurate property boundaries upon which the fence will be placed. Going over the boundary line into a neighbor's property is a huge error that could result in extra labor, money, and possible lawsuits in the future when said neighbor requests the fence be moved. Consult a land surveyor, check with neighbors, and ensure all parties are in agreement on the property lines.

Once the boundaries have been accurately established, assess the location of trees, plants, landscaping, rocks, and anything else that might be in the way and require a move. It's much easier to select a fence line that works around what is already present, rather than moving bushes and trees to accommodate the fencing as it is installed. Mark the lines by driving wooden stakes into the corners and attaching string to represent the fence's position. Then, measure to calculate the amount of fencing needed.

Once the location has been established, check the ground along the line. Is it dirt, cement, or rock? There are many options for fencing, some more suitable for certain conditions than others. Also, check on local restrictions for heights and distances from various structures. Some towns may require a permit before a fence can be installed, and if procedures aren't followed to a city's specifications, homeowners may be fined.

Once all the lines, conditions, measurements, and rules have been recorded, it's time to select the style. Head to the local hardware and building supply store armed with the information and present it to a knowledgeable salesperson. Depending on the purpose of the fence, style preferences, and surface the fence will be installed upon, the salesperson should be able to give a list of the fencing available that falls under the specific categories.

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Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn , Writer
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the HomeQuestionsAnswered team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with HomeQuestionsAnswered, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.

Discussion Comments

By indigomoth — On Aug 05, 2011

@bythewell - My family got into a dispute with the neighbors as well. Unfortunately, I think in this case it was mostly my father's fault, but again it could have easily been avoided if they had figured it out before building the fence.

Our neighbors did build a picket fence between our two houses. It was quite a long fence. And they decided that my parents should paint it.

My father should have just said OK, but he didn't like the arrogance of it I think. It didn't make sense for them to paint one side of the fence only, and it wasn't that much to ask for us to provide a few hours and a couple of buckets.

But it got to be a big deal.

If they had just agreed beforehand on who would do what with the fence, it could have all been avoided.

By bythewell — On Aug 05, 2011

Definitely check with your neighbors before you start building, especially if you want to keep them happy.

I wouldn't just tell them that I was building a fence, I would also show them how high it was going to be. You might think that they would automatically be overjoyed to have a free fence go up alongside their property, but it isn't always so.

My father ended up in a dispute over a fence the neighbor put up. It was so tall it basically shaded out my father's flower beds. He had imagined an small picket fence, but it was a two meter tall solid one.

If the neighbor had disclosed exactly what was going to be put in, the dispute might have been avoided!

Hillary Flynn

Hillary Flynn


Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the HomeQuestionsAnswered team, where she contributes well-...
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