What You Need To Know Before Building A Fence On Your Property

Posted on: 31 August 2015

If you want to help make your yard feel like a sanctuary protected from the outside world, you should install a privacy fence around your property. Your lot will be shielded from the prying eyes of passersby and less vulnerable to intruders. In addition, a well-made fence can enhance the aesthetics of your lawn and block high winds. Before you begin constructing the fence, take heed of the following considerations to make sure it is built within the parameters of the law and will last for years.

Get a Survey of Your Property

The last thing you want to do is to erect a fence and then have a neighbor file a lawsuit because the structure crosses property lines. You may think that you know your property's boundaries, but if you are mistaken, the error could cost you thousands of dollars if you are fined by your municipality or sued by a neighbor

Furthermore, the information on your deed may not match what is in a survey. A licensed surveyor will use their tools and expertise to detect the exact boundary lines of your property, as well as the location of hidden utility structures such as gas lines and sewer pipes.

In addition, a surveyor's legal description of your property will include details on encroachments, easements, catch basins and improvements such as driveways. The surveyor will also let you know your exact zoning classification. A pure residential area may have different fence restrictions than a mixed use zone.

Apply for a Fence Permit

If you live within city limits or in a neighborhood governed by a homeowner's association, you will be subject to fence building rules. Some municipal governments have strict laws on constructing privacy fences. First of all, you will have to submit a permit application for your fence and pay a fee.

Typical fence permit applications require that you also submit copies of a recent survey of your property, the contact details of the fence contractor you want to hire to build your fence and the height of the structure.

The city may send out an inspector to examine your property before and after the fence is constructed. Keep in mind that a permit may be required even if you are tearing down an old fence and replacing it with a new structure in the exact same place.

In addition, you should research the fence laws in your area to make sure you do not plan a structure made out of prohibited materials or that will violate fence design policies. Some municipalities prohibit some types of chain link fences, barbed wire and sharp points on caps.

Make sure to contact your homeowner's association as well as get an updated copy of the organization's fence rules so you do not risk getting sued by the HOA or suffering from the wrath of your neighbors.

Select the Proper Fence Material

Once you have a permit and are clear on what is legal, you can proceed with building your privacy fence. You can choose from wood, metal or synthetic materials. As far as aesthetics, nothing can compare to the natural beauty of a wood fence. Cedar, pressure-treated pine and redwood are common natural materials used for fences. However, wood fences are vulnerable to rot, insect infestations and warping.

Some synthetic and composite materials such as PVC and vinyl mimic the look and feel of wood but offer better protection from the weather and are pest-resistant. However, some synthetic materials are not sustainable and cannot be recycled.

Fences made of aluminum or stainless steel may not be as aesthetically pleasing as wood or synthetic fences, but they have extremely long lifespans and are more cost-effective if you have a tight budget for your fence.

One way to enhance the attractiveness of a metal fence is to plant fast-growing hedges next to the structure. Ideal shrubs to plant next to metal fences include evergreens such American, green giant, emerald and Nigra arborvitae.