9 Things to Know Before Installing a Fence

So, you want to put up a fence. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, there may be more you need to consider before diving into this new home improvement project. There are many factors that come into play when deciding to put up a fence. Here are many of the top priorities to consider before installing your fence.

Why do you want a fence?

To help make decisions about your fence, you should really consider why you want one in the first place. Many homeowners like the idea of installing a fence for privacy. They look forward to enjoying time in their backyard without the chance of making eye contact with a neighbor. In addition to privacy, there are several more reasons to install a fence. Do you have pets? Installing a fence around your yard can allow your animals to explore freely, and you needn’t worry about losing track of them. Maybe you want a fence for the aesthetic appeal. Whatever the case may be, think about precisely why you want a fence before making any other decisions.

How long should it take to put up a fence?

The time it takes to install a fence varies from person to person. There is also a big difference between hiring professional contractors and installing the fence yourself. The size of the job is also a significant factor. On average, the installation process can take between one and four days. However, the actual installation can be delayed by the time it takes to gather materials, prepare the property, or remove a previous fence or any trees that are in the way. You also may have to wait for an opening when scheduling with busy professionals. The actual fence installation, though, should always occur over a few consecutive days.

What are the best materials for building a fence?

Like most things in life, deciding which material is best varies from situation to situation. Each material possesses pros and cons. However, to figure out which is the best for you and your fence installation needs, read on.

You may immediately think of wood when you picture a fence. It is a classic material as well as one of the cheaper options compared to vinyl. Redwood, cedar, or even teak are popular woods for fences because of their durability and ability to last a long time with minimal wear and tear. Bamboo is a new, eco-friendly fence material trend. Wood fences can last up to a few decades when maintained properly, but they will eventually warp and rot with age. They do require regular refinishing as well, which has led to the popularity of other materials.

Metal might not be what most people think of when considering a cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing fence. But it has grown in popularity, including aluminum, steel, and chain link fencing. Although it’s not as versatile as wood or other materials, wrought iron—or aluminum or steel lookalikes—can add a particular feel to your home. Chain link is more common in backyards, often hidden behind bushes or trees. Metal fences can last many decades with proper care.

Composite fencing is a mixture of wood fibers and plastic. It provides the illusion of wood with the beneficial addition of durability due to the plastic. It won’t rot or warp quite as aggressively as wood and has more bug resistance. There is a lot of variety in pricing when it comes to composites, so it is best to research.

Vinyl is one of the best materials out there. However, it can be more expensive than other options. It is more durable and flexible than wood, requires zero maintenance, and is easy to clean. Vinyl fencing can also last up to thirty years.

How cost-effective is building a fence?

The cost of building your fence depends on the materials you choose. Wood fences, for example, can cost anywhere from $17 to $45 per foot. The cost is also dependent on the length, height, and type of wood you use. And don’t forget to consider the hardware you are using. Whether or not you need to include a gate in your fence can affect the price as well.

According to data assembled by Home Advisor, the cost to build a residential fence ranges from $1,663 to over $4,000. The median cost is around $2,800.

Know where your property lines are

You most definitely need to consider property lines before building a fence. You should find this line and discuss your plans with your neighbors before you get the ball rolling. Check your local building codes and regulations in your neighborhood as well. Also, depending on where your house is, you may not even be allowed to build a fence. An HOA may be a roadblock as well. If you live somewhere with a homeowners association, they may have material, color, and height restrictions for fences.

Can I legally paint my side of my neighbor’s fence?

A classic ethical dilemma revolves around a person who picks a fruit from a neighboring tree hanging into their yard. The debate is whether that piece of fruit was stolen or is rightfully theirs. Of course, this confusion can extend beyond fruit. It also exists within the realm of fences between neighbors.

Legally, your neighbor cannot paint their side of your fence without your permission unless their side is beyond your property line. If your fence is entirely on your property, they must ask permission. If your fence follows the property line so precisely that half falls on your property and half on your neighbor’s, they have the right to paint their side.

State rules may vary, so it is important to check your local regulations, but in most instances, you cannot do anything to a fence that is entirely on your neighbor’s property.

What is the best time of year for installing a fence?

People typically take on outdoor projects during the spring and summer months. But is that the best time to begin a fence project? In many cases, taking advantage of the offseason to build a fence is not a bad idea.

The time of year is more or less dependent on whether you are hiring a professional or doing it yourself. Most seasons outside of winter are very busy for professional contractors. During the slow season, prices may be more competitive. And after the busy summer months, some contractors may have extra material they can put toward your project at a discount. You will also be able to schedule the installation sooner.

Wood is also less likely to warp in the cooler months. The heat and UV rays that beat down during those hot summer months can dry out the wood too quickly, which can cause splitting and warping. On the other hand, shorter, cooler days mean waiting longer for a new wood fence to dry before painting or staining.

What distance should fence posts be apart?

Fence posts are usually spaced between six and eight feet apart. Install corner posts and line up the rest of the posts between them. You can also stretch a cord between the corner posts to act as a guide or stencil.

Should I Hire Professionals?

There are many reasons why hiring a professional for your fence installation is worth the expense.

For starters, they can guide you in the direction of the perfect style of fence for your home. They will provide you with the best options based on your property, the area where you live, and your ultimate goals for your fence project.

Surprisingly, hiring a professional can save you money. Hiring a professional generally sounds like the more expensive option. But if you decide to take this on yourself, you have to buy all of your materials at retail prices. And you also need to buy or rent specialized tools. By hiring a professional, you avoid the time and expense involved in buying or rent specialized tools, and the materials they get are usually at a discounted bulk rate. A professional can also do the job without making costly mistakes that are all too common in DIY projects.

When hiring a professional, you are also guaranteed a quality job. Professional fence installers advertise quality and long-lasting fences. So if the fence doesn’t meet your standards, the company will correct its mistakes. If you do it yourself, fixing a poorly installed fence can take more time and money than building the fence in the first place.

With all of the hoops you potentially have to jump through to install a fence, a professional will make sure everything checks out first. An expert knows and understands the rules regarding property lines, HOAs, and any other legal restrictions in place.

Lastly, the investment in professional work will return in the future as an increased home value. A professional who performs top-notch work installing a fence can make your home worth more down the line because high-quality fences are very appealing to potential buyers.


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