Before you get a new fence, it is important to think about more than yourself. You have to think about your neighbors on each side and your HOA rules if they happen to apply to your neighborhood. In addition to following the local zoning rules for fence building, it is a good idea to read up on proper fence etiquette to avoid problems down the line. Keep in mind that while you may be building a fence to keep your pets in or to keep wildlife out, your neighbors also have to see it daily from their windows or driveways. We have put together a few fence etiquette points that you should keep in mind during your new fence installation.
How To Determine Where To Build Your Fence
It is very important that you know where your property starts, and where it ends. When there is no fence to define your property lines it is easy to make assumptions, but if you plan to build a structure, you need to be precise. In order to prevent arguments and property encroachment, make sure that your fencing company checks the house’s plat ahead of the installation. The plat is the map of your land, you can usually get a copy from the city or the county records office. If you are still not sure about the boundary lines, a surveyor can be hired to stake out the lines of your property boundary before the fence is built.
Do Neighbors Have To Be Informed Before Building A Fence?
There is no law that states you have to inform your neighbors of your plans to build a fence. If your plans are firmly within your property lines and the design is in compliance with neighborhood rules, you are free to start your project. However, it is a courtesy to let your neighbors know your plans in the event they have concerns or even if they want to prevent you from erecting a fence. In a best-case scenario, your neighbor may even agree to work with you on the fence that lines your dual properties, which may mean splitting expenses. It is always a good idea to be upfront to prevent hurt feelings and even to prevent potential legal challenges. A conversation can never hurt, even if you are not on good terms with your neighbor.
Do You Share The Cost Of Building A Fence With Your Neighbor?
Another important thing to consider when it comes to fence etiquette is who bears the cost of the fence. In most cases, the homeowner who wants the fence and on whose property it will reside will need to bear the cost. This includes the cost of building the fence as well as maintaining it over the years. Speaking with your neighbor before you build a fence is a great way to get their feedback and perhaps come to an agreement.
If you both want to build a fence that is mutually beneficial, it becomes a boundary fence. This type of fence will be situated on the exact property line and shared by both property owners. Proper fence etiquette and even local laws dictate that the maintenance of a boundary fence must be shared by both property owners unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise. Following proper fence, etiquette can help make things smoother and ultimately more affordable for both of you if the cost of the fence is shared.
Height and Placement Regulations For Fences On Property Lines
In most localities, fences must be placed a minimum of six inches inside of your own property line. It is important that your fencing company check regulations prior to installation. Every jurisdiction will have its own rules and regulations. However, in most places, the maximum height for a fence is 6 feet. The height limits are lower for fences that will be built in the front yard, those that are within 15 feet of the curb, or street line, and areas where a high fence will limit traffic sight distances.
Can My Neighbor Tear Down My Fence?
Legally, your neighbor is not able to tear down a fence without a court order. If you have your fence professionally installed, then it will be within your property lines and follow the regulations of the city. When your neighbor tears down a fence on your property, it is illegal and you can take them to court to have it repaired or replaced at their expense. Following proper fence etiquette will help you to avoid most situations that would cause a neighbor to act so rashly, however, there are always exceptions.
If your fence was built on their property, then they do have the right to remove a fence that you built from their property. This is one of the main reasons that it is best to have a fence built by professionals, surveyed to ensure boundary lines, and erected with a legal permit. A lot of hassles can be avoided simply by following property fence etiquette.
Am I Allowed to Build A Fence Next To My Neighbors Fence?
As a general rule, a fence that is not a boundary fence must be built at least two feet inside of your own property line. If your neighbor has a fence up already, then chances are their fence is two feet within their property line. You are allowed to build another fence on your own property as long as it falls within two feet of your property line. If there is not enough space to do so, you may end up dealing with a fight for easement rights between the yards. It is a good idea to have your fencing company look into the specifics of easement rights for your city before starting work on your project.
What Is A Neighbor Friendly Fence?
Depending on which style of fencing you plan to install, one side may look better than the other. It is always a good idea to let your neighbor have the more attractive-looking side pointed towards their property. When building a neighbor-friendly fence, you can choose one that has an identical look on both sides, or simply one that offers a plain finished look that won’t have a negative effect on the aesthetics of their home.
Most privacy fences are solidly paneled on one side and have slats on the other. Pointing the solid side outwards is polite, and it makes your property look more appealing. This is also standard practice so if you install your fence with the smoother side facing in, most people will assume it was improperly installed.
If you prefer to have an even look on both sides, then good neighbor fences are a better option. These double-sided fences have a sandwich-style construction which makes them thicker, and much stronger. Instead of you or your neighbor viewing the connection slats, they will be sandwiched in the middle of two outside panels.
Does Maintenance Fall Under Proper Fence Etiquette?
Proper fence etiquette will help keep you and your neighbors on good terms, but it doesn’t end when your fence project is complete. Everything in your home requires regular maintenance, including your fence. Performing proper fence maintenance will ensure that it looks good and performs well long into the future. Everyone wants their home to look that best, so that means you will need to paint, repair, treat and stain the wood of your fence as it ages. If you have pets, you may have to repair areas of the fence where they dig or damage the wood. This is not only for your benefit but also for the benefit of your neighbors.
If long-term maintenance is not going to be your strong suit, consider building your fence out of low-maintenance materials. Wooden fences are highly attractive, but they do require more care than other types of material. Aluminum or vinyl fences are a great option that will allow for easier cleaning, fewer repairs, and a better-looking fence years after it was installed.
With our easy-to-follow guidelines for proper fence etiquette, you will have an easier time with your neighbors when it comes time to build a fence. Instead of your fence becoming a jarring surprise that makes you seem unfriendly, communicate with your neighbors to get their feedback. You never know, they may even have some design suggestions or decide to collaborate with you on the project.