We choose our friends, but it’s rare that we get to choose the neighbors who border all sides of our property. An old quote by Robert Frost says “good fences make good neighbors,” and I believe this to be true. A gorgeous and beautifully installed fence is one way to make a community look great and keep the peace with those who live next door.
Below are five fence etiquette tips to keep in mind when you decide to plan and install your fence.
Plan Your Fence on Your Property
Relationships with neighbors can go from zero to toxic in a moment when your fence ends up on their property. Prior to buying your fencing materials and fencing tools, make sure you’ve planned where your fence will go and validate your fence line with a set of blueprints or a plat so that you’re absolutely certain that the fence you build sits squarely on your property. I encourage folks to install a fence well within their property line
Never, under any terms, attempt to install a fence that extends beyond your property. Even if you think the people who live next to you would never say or do anything, just don’t do it. The minute someone can prove you’ve installed a fence on their property, the law is on their side.
Get Your Permits Before You Build
When you decide to build a fence, make sure you get a permit before installing your fence. Please do your homework before you build as most counties or cities have zoning ordinances which limit the height of fences in residential areas. Some communities also have HOA covenants to limit you to one particular fence material and style. Be a good DIYer and follow the permit rules; it can save you money and lots of frustration!
Be Kind; Let your Neighbors Know Your DIY Plans
Show some common courtesy and always let your neighbors know that you plan to build a fence on your property. You do not need their explicit permission as long as your fence stays on your property line and you have the permits needed to build, but it’s always a good idea to let those who live next to you know what your plans are. Sometimes there are unexpected benefits!
Believe it or not, I’ve had clients who end up sharing the costs to build a fence with their neighbors once they announce to the folks next door that they plan to build a fence! If you live in a townhome community, your fence is bound to share a side (sometimes 2 if you’re not on an end unit) and I’ve seen neighbors pool their money to build the fences all at once to keep the costs down. Doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it helps people maintain good relationships!
This doesn’t happen often, but I have seen a homeowner upgrade their fence from one material (wood) to a more costly material (vinyl) all because they let their neighbors know they were building a fence. Had the one person not told his neighbor of his plans, he never would have known that a higher quality fence was possible because the two homeowners split the cost!
Just remember that if the fence is your idea, you cannot expect or demand folks to chip in and help pay for your DIY project.
Maintain Your Fence
Once you install your fence, take care of both sides of it. If you build a wood fence with boards that warp on your neighbor’s side, replace the boards on your own dime. If your fence is still under warranty, you can often get repairs done without a charge. However, the cost to repair a small problem on your neighbor’s side of the fence can mean avoiding a huge hassle. Even if you don’t get along with your neighbors, I tell folks to always take the high road when you’ve installed your own fence and remember there are always two sides to any fence you build!
Do the Right Thing if Your Neighbors Aren’t So Neighborly
So what happens if you’re the neighbor who lives next door to someone who has built a fence that you find hideous? Well, unless the fence violates county laws or your HOA covenants or the fence is dangerous and causes a negative impact on property values, there’s not much you can do if the fence sits on their property. The easiest thing to do is build your own fence or plant lots of shrubs and trees to create a border that’s appealing to you. It’s better to build what you want rather than attempt to provoke others when they are within their rights to put something on their own property!
Ready to Build a Fence?
If you’ve done your homework, talked with your neighbors and you’re ready to build your own aluminum fence, click here to get started or open up a live chat session and one of our Powers Fence Supply representatives will help you order the materials you need to install one of the finest fences on the market!