Want A New Fence? 4 Things You Must Know Before You Dig

Posted on: 27 July 2015

Good fences make good neighbors, at least according to Robert Frost. And adding a good fence can make your life more enjoyable and your neighbors easier to get along with. But you need to do some preparation and planning before a single shovel hits the ground.  Here are 4 things you need to know before you start on a fence.   

Know Your Goal

Like any building project, a fence is a significant investment in time, money and energy. So, before you start planning and buying, you first need to be sure you know what you want (or need) from your fence. Do you want something utilitarian that keeps pests out or pets in? In this case, you can probably get away with something less expensive. Are you just looking for something aesthetically pleasing and can consider cheaper iron or steel? Or do you need privacy from the neighbors? Do you want a classic wood fence look in the front but just need functionality in the backyard? These needs will all inform which type of fencing you need for which areas - and for how much money. Identifying your real needs and goals will help you adjust your budget if it becomes necessary later.  

Know the Rules

Save yourself a lot of headaches later by making sure you understand the rules and requirements of your local homeowners' association and city building codes. There may be rules governing the height, location and design of any fencing you put up. Do you need a building permit? Does the fence have to face outward? How far must it be from any property lines or city sidewalks? Do your research.  

Know Your Neighbors

Before starting to buy materials, talk with your neighbors about your plans. Doing so will avoid hurt feelings and other problems that may crop up from blocking views, affecting the property lines or changing the look of the neighborhood. If you want to share costs with neighbors, discuss a 'party fence' arrangement where both sides share the fence responsibility. However, be sure to have the property lines professionally determined and the party fence agreement written down. 

Know Your Budget

Fencing projects can often go over-budget when complications arise or desires change. So make sure you understand your true budget and the real costs of what you're planning -- after you've done the above research. If your plans are coming in over (or just at) your budget, consider some alternatives such as landscaping hedges, rock walls or a vertical garden to define part of the space instead of a solid fence. If you're just looking for privacy or something pleasing to the eye, landscaping can be a cheaper choice that usually doesn't require building permits or neighbor approval.  If you need to keep Fido in the yard, can you use a cheaper chain link fence in the backyard and focus your money on creating curb appeal in the front?     

While it might seem like a simple project to choose a fence style and plop it into the ground. But without forethought, you might end up wasting a lot of money and effort. So be sure to know what you need to know in advance. Then go out and enjoy your new fence!