Do you plan to install a fence on your residential property? Fences are great additions to most homes, adding value to the property and providing privacy. But don’t overlook the importance of considering others both before and after your fence installation. How can you do this? And why? Here are seven valuable tips to show good fence etiquette.
1. See the Value of Caring
Do you know why it’s important to be a good fence neighbor and show concern for others? If not, you’ll have a hard time building a fence that makes you completely satisfied while also showing consideration for your neighbors.
Keep in mind that making some compromises and being proactive about good neighbor relations often makes your life easier and less stressful. You also avoid the risk of having to tear down and move a fence. And a positive relationship with a neighbor might even help you share fence maintenance and repair costs over the years.
2. Verify Your Boundaries
Before you get very far in planning — and certainly before you start digging — check your boundaries to be certain. This step is vital even if you think you know the exact property limits. Why? Installing a fence even one inch over the boundary with your neighbor’s property could result in you having to rip out the entire thing.
This is often true even if another fence has been in the same location. Older structures built on the wrong side of a boundary are often grandfathered in through easements. But once you put up a new one, that easement may no longer remain. So make sure you get a proper survey if there’s any doubt.
3. Put Your Good Side Out
One of the most important parts of fence etiquette is to place the best side of the fence so it faces your neighbor. This usually means the rails of many traditional wood fences are on your side and the clean side faces outward. While this may not be your first instinct — after all, it’s your fence — it shows neighbors that you take them into consideration. And doing that can forestall future conflicts.
4. Choose Two-Sided Styles
Don’t want to put the best side of the fence toward the outside? Then look for a fence style that looks good from both angles. For instance, a shadowbox-style wood fence has slats that alternate sides, ensuring that both sides get an equally good appearance. Similarly, basket weave fencing weaves the horizontal slats between the two sides to form a cohesive look no matter what the angle.
Many aluminum, iron, and other fences come in designs that provide a clean and attractive look from both sides. By being flexible about style options, you help everyone end up with a view they’ll find aesthetically pleasing.
5. Talk With Your Neighbors
If you’re building a fence on your side of the property, you aren’t usually obligated to discuss your plans with others. But even if it’s not mandatory, it promotes better relations and avoids unnecessary conflict. The best time to talk with neighbors about your fence choices — such as height, material, and style — is when you’re still in the planning stages. Ask for their input and take their concerns seriously.
Even if you meet with neighbors later in the process, be polite by giving them a heads up about the installation. Let them know what fence will go up, when it will be installed, and how the work may affect their property or daily routine.
6. Check the Regulations
What rules or regulations might impact your fence? Start by visiting your local zoning office and researching fence standards, including such things as whether or not you need a permit or a utility survey and what height limitations you must follow. If part of an HOA, get detailed information on fence rules about color, style, or height. You may also be subject to historical preservation rules.
As with lot boundaries, failure to thoroughly understand and abide by local regulations may cause you to end up removing the fence or paying for alterations later. So, in this case, being a good neighbor not only helps you avoid conflict but also protects your wallet.
7. Plan for Maintenance & Upkeep
The final way to be a good fence neighbor starts as soon as installation ends. Plan ahead to do proper repairs and maintenance on the fence. No one likes to deal with a sagging, broken, peeling, or moldy neighbor fence that they can do little about. So make a budget line for maintenance, repainting, and repairs as necessary. And if you can’t get to it yourself, outsource the work so it gets done in a timely manner.
Want to know more about fence etiquette and how to be a great neighbor from start to finish? Begin by meeting with the team at Town & Country Fence. We’ll use our experience throughout the Pacific Northwest to help you avoid problems and find a fence design that protects your privacy and promotes neighbor relations. Call today to make an appointment.