“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” wrote Robert Frost — and, at least when that wall is a new fence you’re looking to add to your property, many neighbors would agree with him. Despite the clear advantages fences offer homeowners, from enhanced privacy and greater protection to improved property value, not everybody loves a new fence. That’s why, when you’re planning to add one to your home, it’s a good idea to talk to your neighbors ahead of time, to clarify concerns and work toward better understanding. Sometimes neighbors have valid concerns, like wanting to make sure you don’t put up your fence on their land or erect a structure that will be an eyesore for the community. Take time to talk to them so you can clear up these issues before they snowball into major problems.
By practicing proper fence etiquette, you may be able to save yourself fence-related hassles and headaches down the road. With that in mind, here are some important tips to remember:
1. Tell your neighbors about the fence ahead of time. While of course it’s kind to let your neighbors know you’re about to put up a fence along your property, the bigger reason you might want to bring it up is to double-check that you understand your property boundaries. If you should accidentally assume your yard ends where it doesn’t, for example, you could wind up putting your fence on your neighbor’s land — and therefore having to take it down to start over again later. Look at your property drawing from its survey with your neighbor or, if you don’t have a drawing, hire a surveyor to create one.
2. When in doubt, fence closer. If there’s any dispute at all about the property boundary (or even if there isn’t), always err on the side of caution. Erect your fence at least 1 foot or 2 feet closer to you than to your neighbor. This minimizes the chance of disputes arising about your fence placement, and it also tells your neighbors that you aren’t trying to take over their turf.
3. Pick your fence with freedom. While, sure, you are free to run your possible fence design by your neighbors if you like, note that you are not required to get their permission on the make, model or material of your choice. Just because your neighbors don’t like dark wood, doesn’t mean you can’t choose a dark wood fence. In fact, in some cases, running your fence choice by your neighbors can drum up more trouble than necessary. Unless you are part of a homeowners’ association that governs fencing structures, feel free to pick your fence with freedom. That said, it’s generally a good idea to stick to classic designs, which are less likely to cause offenses. If creating goodwill in the area is your top concern, try to use a similar fence style to the other ones in your area.
4. Face the better side outward. If you pick a fence with differing sides, the more finished, attractive side is supposed to face out, with the less finished side facing inside your yard. For fences that have identical sides, you don’t need to worry about this.
5. Take responsibility for fence upkeep. Adding a fence to your property means adding the responsibility of keeping up with the structure. No neighbors will like unsightly, unkempt property staring them in the face every day. If the burden of upkeep feels daunting, be sure to pick a low-maintenance fencing material like vinyl that won’t require much staining, cleaning or sealing.
Whether you live in a highly regulated suburban subdivision or a low-key city neighborhood, when you’re planning to add a fence to your property, always follow proper fence etiquette. To minimize potential conflicts and issues from your new fencing structure, follow the guidelines above and work toward a familiar, friendly understanding with your neighbors. While ultimately you are free to use whatever fence you like as long as you aren’t breaking laws or subdivision guidelines, you’ll likely enjoy a happier, healthier neighbor relationship with a little upfront communication.
Author bio: Jim Wall founded The Fence Store in 1989. The Fence Store has done fencing work for Northwestern University and Chicago.
Sources: https://mmcfencingandrailing.com/fence-etiquette/ andhttps://www.proreferral.com/hg/fence-etiquette-you-and-your-neighbors/