When installing a new fence, you have to consider your next-door neighbors for obvious reasons. Unlike most structures built in and around the home, a fence is shared by more than one household, making it necessary to ensure that all the parties involved are satisfied before the last nail is hammered in.
Installing a fence requires some etiquette. You may think all you need is your HOA’s permission, but you also need to think about whether your immediate neighbors are comfortable with the side of the fence they are getting. This is because your fence will be visible to them at all times, and if it’s unsightly, they might feel like they were handed the short end of the stick.
These are some rules to be conscious of before breaking ground on any type of fence installation.
Property Lines Should be Mapped Out Before Installation Begins
You don’t want to step on any toes when putting in a fence around your property, so make sure you’ve got your property lines well mapped out before installing a new fence. If you are not in possession of any such documents, you can get your house’s plan from the record’s office in your county at no cost. Hiring a land surveyor to do it for you is also another way of going about it. Just make sure that your fence sticks within your property lines to avoid scuffles with your neighbors or the local authorities.
Talking to your Neighbors about the Fence is the Right Thing to Do
You are not required by law to consult your neighbors before installing a fence, but in many cases, it is the “neighborly” thing to do. Even though your fence will rest within your property lines and has received the approval it needs from the neighborhood committee, common courtesy dictates that you talk to your neighbor about installing a fence. You want to make them aware of the type of fence you’ll be installing, as well as other details about it that might concern them. Your neighbor may even be interested in a fence too and being the divider between both your yards, they might suggest splitting the cost of installation if they’re allowed to have a role in the decision-making process.
Ensure the “Good” Side is Facing your Neighbors
Some fences have a “good” side and a “bad” side. The good side has a smooth, polished finish that looks nothing like the side where supporting rails and posts are visible. In any case, it is generally accepted that the “good” side of the fence should face your neighbors. Doing this is politer than leaving your neighbors staring at the unpolished side of the fence, where exposed posts and rails can even lower property value. Furthermore, it is the standard to install fences with the good side facing outwards, and fences installed in the opposite direction tend to look like they’ve been put in backward. Install your fence with the good side facing the outside world.
Alternatively, you can spring for a “good neighbor fence,” which is basically a type of fence that is finished on both sides. These types of fences, also known as double-sided privacy fences, are incidentally stronger than normal one-sided fences because they are made using the “sandwich construction” method, which places two layers of fencing on each side as opposed to one. Good neighbor fences look just as good on the inside as they do on the outside, making them less of an eyesore to your neighbors.
Keep your Fence in Good Shape
After installing the fence, the job is not over. Like everything else, fences require maintenance to look good and remain functioning at all times. Although regular fence maintenance keeps issues like chipping, fading, or rotting at bay, it also prevents your fences from becoming unpleasant to look at. An eyesore of a fence can elicit more than a few complaints from your neighbors because it affects their property values too.
If you are not sure you can keep up with the maintenance practices of fences made out of wood, go for low-maintenance materials like aluminum or vinyl. Ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew by opting for lighter colors which show stains more readily, and require washing. Go for dark colored fences that will not require cleaning too often, and stick to materials that can do without constant maintenance and upkeep.
These are the four principle guidelines of installing a fence that will keep your household, and neighborhood, happy for years to come. Following the right kind of etiquette not only keep your neighbors in the loop about the type of fence you’re installing, but it also gives you a chance to split the cost of fencing properties that are right next to each other. It also eliminates the chances of feuds arising, because communicating about the fence give your neighbor an opportunity to voice their concerns about it.