Deciding to build a fence means planning ahead. There are numerous things to consider. What is the purpose of your fence? Is it purely for aesthetics? Do you have a pet that needs to be kept in the yard? Are you trying to create privacy for your family or reduce the noise that comes in? Regardless of the reason behind the choice, there are numerous steps to consider before starting the project. These considerations are required, whether it is a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or if professionals are hired to do the job construction
- Contact a land surveyor to accurately locate the property line. This is imperative when building a temporary construction fence. If for some reason, the fence is not on the exact border, the homeowner is at risk of being ordered to tear it down. That is especially true if any part of the fence is next to a sidewalk or alley. Structures that veer on to city-owned property will require the property owner to fix it. This could mean taking it down and starting from scratch. Unless
- Call before you dig. Everyone has seen the ads on TV and heard the messages on the radio; yet, many forget this step. It can be a costly thing to miss. Any gas lines, phone cables, water, and sewer pipes that are damaged are the home owner’s responsibility to fix. If the community goes without any of these essential services, the backlash from the neighborhood will be unpleasant at best.
- Research and understand local bylaws to ensure the fence is far enough back from sidewalks and alleys. There are height restrictions that may vary from the front, back, and side yards. Specific sightlines must be kept clear. Each municipality has its own set of guidelines that need to be followed. Find out if a permit is required; if yes, get one. If the residence is in an area monitored by a homeowners association or a condo board, there may be additional requirements. Do the background checks to save time and money.
- Plan appropriate exit/entry points. Figure out the best location for exit/entry points for the yard in advance. One of these should be wide enough to get larger maintenance items through such as snow blowers and lawnmower, not to mention patio furniture or swing sets.
- Choose the material that will be best for your structure. What is the reason for building a fence? Is it for aesthetics, or does it have a function like privacy or noise control? Consider the climate when choosing material for a fence. Do the elements change substantially? Is it a warm, humid area?
- Plan for all materials and tools if this is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project. Accurate measurements must be taken. How far between posts, therefore, how many posts. What kind of fasteners or connectors, and how many of these will be needed? When calculating the materials required, it is important to plan ahead for unforeseen damage or issues. Determine how much extra could be necessary. With many structures that are meant to last for a long time, it may be better to turn to professionals. This could actually save time and money in the long term.
- Set for concrete anchors and fasteners. For any posts that are required, concrete must be poured to anchor them, especially in northern climates. These anchors should be about a meter (36 in.) deep or at least 15 cm (6 in.) below the frost line.
- Let your neighbors know that you are planning to build a fence. Of course, if the neighbor shares your property line, this point is crucial. Will the fence be on the property line, and the cost shared, or will it belong to a single homeowner? If the former, then agreements need to be formalized and put into writing – especially if one party pays out front. If the latter, then refer back to the survey done at the beginning and assure the fence is erected on the right side of the property line. For any other neighbors that the clutter and noise may impact, just let them know the estimated time for the project. This can be done in person or in writing. It probably wouldn’t hurt to send some homemade cookies with the news.
There are a lot of things to consider when taking on a project like building a fence. It certainly isn’t something that can be decided one day and started the next. It takes foresight and planning to get it right and to make sure it lasts. If the entire project seems daunting, hire professionals to do the job. They will take a homeowner through the steps and give experienced feedback about any aspect where there are concerns and questions.