Being a Good Neighbour: Fencing Your Property

Posted by Trudy Rost on Tue, Jul 9, 2013

backyard fencing good neighbourThere are good reasons why adages endure the test of time: they contain more than a kernel of truth that holds universal appeal. “Good fences make good neighbours,” is one of them. Another variation of this comes from Benjamin Franklin: “Love your neighbour; yet don’t pull down your hedge.”

Of course, there are many practical reasons to consider installing a fence around your property: to protect children and pets, to prevent and protect others from wandering into your yard should you have a pool or other water hazard, and to ensure some privacy. Fencing is also a great way to enhance your home’s landscaping and curb appeal.

But even all the practical reasons in the world can sometimes fall flat if your neighbours get the impression you are not so much fencing in your property as you are fencing them out! Installing a fence as part of the construction of your new home is a great way to avoid neighbourly “complications.” When installing a fence after you move into your new home, there are certain factors you must take into consideration.

Legal Issues

You may want a fence regardless of any special requirements. That is fine, but you may find that you must adhere to certain specifications depending on the type of property you own. Local ordinances vary, so you might find you are required to install fencing if there are any inherent safety issues on your property, such as a pool, pond, or any other obstacle that can pose a threat to the safety of others. It’s important to check your local building and zoning codes to determine if a fence is required and refer to your architectural guidelines to understand exactly what type of fence is required. Your local zoning office might have very specific rules regarding the height of the fence, easements, and property setbacks, ass do architectural guidelines. If you build outside of the developer requirements, you could find yourself doing the work twice in order to meet the area standards.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Another time-honored adage that applies, believe it or not, to fences. Never begin to install fencing until you are absolutely sure of your property lines. If you don’t have a property survey that clearly delineates your property’s boundaries, consult a land surveyor to be sure you don’t encroach on your neighbor’s property. After determining your boundaries, factor in any local regulations concerning easements. This is the only way to ensure that your fence is completely and legally on your property. 

Building inside your property line requires you to build 6” from the property line. With two fences up and only a foot between, this can make maintaining your fence more of a hassle and is something to consider before building. 

Talk to Your Neighbours

Even if you are installing a fence only because you must legally do so, it’s a great idea to talk to your neighbours before you begin. Remember, the adage says “good fences make good neighbours,” not “any kind of fence makes good neighbours.” A good fence isn’t just about durability: it’s also about aesthetics. Your neighbors may not appreciate a 24/7 view of a 6’ high chain link fence or a wooden fence that’s been painted lime green, even if the view doesn’t bother you. Explore the possibility of splitting the cost of fencing with your neighbours; if you can all agree on the type of fence, draw up a written agreement that details the delineation of costs. This is a win-win proposition: everyone gets the fence they want at a fraction of the cost. This fence can then be built on the shared property line instead of inside your line.

What Kind of Fence?

Whether you are making the fencing decision alone or with one or more neighbours, take some time to consider the pros and cons of various types of fences. A fence around your property can enhance your home’s character or it can actually devalue your property if it isn’t harmonious. Keep in mind that double-sided fencing - where both sides of the boards are finished - may cost a little more, but generally has less flaws and will last longer. Pressure treated wood should cure for a year before you paint it. Think about the type of house you have, how it is constructed, and whether or not certain fences would complement one or more of your home’s architectural details. 

Once you have determined the type of fence and reviewed fencing requirements, if you are in a new area, you will want to insure it is installed correctly. You can brush up on your ‘how to’ knowledge with courses at home hardware stores or book in a professional to have the job completed. In some new subdivisions, like Griesbach, stone block fencing is an area requirement that is completed by the builder. The convenience of not having to put up your own fence may be a persuading factor when choosing the area of your new home.

Image courtesy of, @ Cynthia Farmer 


Topics: buy a new home, new home, home maintenance, landscaping, tips & tricks

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