The Important Questions You Should Ask Before Building a Fence

Getting a fence built correctly can take a little bit of pre-planning as well as doing some serious research yourself or hiring a good skilled professional. It can be quite a bit harder than one might expect and it does need to be handled in the right way so that your new fence doesn’t fall into your neighbor’s pool! The Joneses next door might be upset to wake up to your new fence in their new pool hirein.

1. Why a Fence?

You want a fence! While “why” you want a fence might be obvious, a good contractor will ask you this question. Knowing why you want a fence is important in choosing what type of fence and material will be best, the height of construction, placement of the fence, and the locations and types of gates.

A fence can be built to keep something in, keep something or someone out, reduce noise, block an unwanted view, or to add aesthetics. There are safety factors to consider in the material, construction, and height of the fence. For example:

If the fence is four foot high with a dog chained nearby it may be possible for the dog to jump. The dog could be injured and jumping while chained could even be fatal. Gates and locks will be a consideration when building a fence meant to keep children out of a swimming pool. In a high crime area, a fence built for protection can instead increase risk; if the fence blocks the view of neighbors or the public, criminals often feel safe to operate there.

2. Where?

While the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence, you don’t want that to be your grass over there! Nor do you want to find out after all the construction is done, your fence is not yours at all, but on someone else’s property.

Fences probably cause more neighbor disputes than any other interaction. While you might have every right to build a fence, running your plan by your neighbors might save you some headaches. Whether you talk to them or not make you sure you know where your fence is going to be built.

– find the property stakes that mark the boundaries
– get a copy of your survey and measure your property
– have a survey performed

Check and double check and make sure the fence lines are clearly marked for your contractor.

3. What’s Up… and Down?

The majority of fences are fastened by some kind of post that will go under the ground. Many posts are placed in holes filled with concrete. The depth of the holes should be based on the height of the anchors or posts, the type of fence, and the area’s seasonable weather. 18″ to 24″ are common depths. If your fence will need any digging some areas may need to phone to check for underground utilities. These services will use spray paint to mark where cables and such are buried. An advance notice of a few days to sometimes several weeks before your project begins is required. The paint will generally last several weeks.

It may be a good idea to do a search with a metal detector. These can pick up old pipelines, buried objects from past demolitions, and other obstructions that could cause delays. In any case, when you hire a contractor make sure the preliminary work is done and understand who is going to be responsible for getting the property marked. Get that agreement in writing on your contract.

Ensure that you study the opposite direction of the ground too – up! Trees with low branches on your property (or your neighbors) might need to be trimmed before your fence can be built. Some might even be right in your fence line and need to be removed. Tree roots can also be a headache for the contractor and should be considered.

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