When you purchase a new home with even a modest amount of property, your house may not automatically come with a fence. Homeowners without children or pets do not always feel a need to erect a fence on their property. If you are moving in and you do have children and/or pets, your first thought will likely be, how can I keep them safe? Fences are the obvious solution to this question, and they also give us much more privacy from surrounding neighbours. Yet, there are other reasons you might not consider initially when the question of whether or not to install a fence arises.
First and foremost, putting up a fence can increase the property value of your home should you ever sell it in the future. Installing a solid wood fence, cast iron fence, or concrete fence can actually increase the value of your property by as much as 50%. If you are thinking of installing a fence with the hope of adding value to your home, it’s always best to double-check with your realtor once you’ve chosen a fence design. A fence may also help to reduce your homeowners’ insurance premiums, as a solid fence is often viewed as an additional security feature (along with house alarms) by your insurance company. If you install a pool or set up a trampoline for your children, a fence will be vital in reducing your insurance premiums.
Beyond the impact it may have on your insurance rates, solid privacy fences are a wonderful safety feature, not just in protecting your children and pets from wandering off, but in protecting your home from any possible unwanted intruders.
Depending on your neighbourhood and how many neighbours you have, a fence is also useful in confirming the boundaries of your property. It is an unfortunate reality that boundary disputes can arise between neighbours, but once you have determined the exact extent of your property, installing a fence is the perfect way to clear up any confusion about boundary lines and prevent possible disputes in the future.
Lastly, fences add to the overall aesthetic and “curb appeal” of your home. You may think that putting up a solid privacy fence doesn’t present an air of friendliness, but on the contrary, a fence is often considerate and neighbourly of you to install, with helping to establish boundary lines and maintaining the overall look of the neighbourhood.
13 Things to Know Before You Build a Fence
A fence can improve your home’s curb appeal, provide security, increase privacy, and offer protection from the elements. But before you start building a fence, there are a few things you should know first. Here are our top tips for planning, designing, and building a fence for your home.
Know What You Want
Before you install a fence, ask yourself what your reason is for installing it. If it’s strictly utilitarian—keeping the dog in the yard—you can probably get by with a basic chain-link fence. If you’re looking to block noise or add privacy, you will want something tall and solid. Chances are your wishes are complex: You want to protect pets, but you also want to add a decorative element to your home’s exterior. Whatever its purpose, a fence can function in many ways, but the first step is deciding what you’re looking for to choose one that works for you.
Face Your Fence the Right Way
If you’re building a privacy fence, make sure you know which way a wooden fence should face. The smooth, finished side of the fence should face the neighbour. The side with the rails and posts showing should be on the inside. This is the standard way to build a backyard fence. Not only will your property look nicer this way, but your neighbour will appreciate your attention to detail.
Consider Fence Materials
A white picket fence is quintessential, but before you buy wood posts and whitewash, think about the commitment you’re making. Wood fences might require occasional staining or sealing and can warp and rot over time. Consider a low-maintenance material, such as vinyl, that offers the look of wood without the elbow grease. Other material options include aluminium, steel, wrought iron, and bamboo.
Mix Fencing Types
If cost is an issue, mix different types of fences. Wood picket fencing could be placed at the front of the home, for example, connecting to chain link fencing in the back. Not only will this combination fence potentially save installation costs, but it also will reduce the amount of fence that might require repainting. Mixing fencing materials and styles also adds interest to the landscape.
Do Your Research
Inquire with homeowners or neighbourhood associations and municipal building code officials regarding covenants that dictate fencing look, height, and material. City and neighbourhood rules may specify the better-looking side of a fence (the side that doesn’t show posts and rails) be placed toward the public face of the property. Ask how far back a fence needs to be set on your property. Typically, a fence has to be set back 2 to 8 inches from sidewalks and property lines. Additionally, find out if your fence project will require a building permit.
Landscaping can be used to protect your home from weather and views and to mark property lines—layer plantings to form pockets where others can’t see your house or another part of the yard. Remember, local building codes and neighbourhood fence rules may cover such living walls. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that planted materials don’t overgrow such restrictions in the future.
Know-How Much It Costs to Build a Fence
According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners pay between $1,673 and $3,983 to get a wooden fence installed. Wood fences cost $17 to $45 per linear foot. Lumber averages from $7 to $15 per foot while labour ranges from $10 to $30 per foot. The fence’s length, height, and wood type are major factors in the price of a new fence. Gates, hardware, and sealant are also costs that need to be budgeted into the project.
Research the Property Line
You need to know where to put a fence. To make sure that you accurately build your fence on your own property, and not partially on your neighbor’s land, get your property surveyed. A property survey is a document created by a surveyor that establishes a property’s boundaries and rights of way. If you’ve lost your property survey, you may be able to get it from your county’s records office.
Fence installation is harder than it looks, but the American Fence Association makes it easy to find a local fence contractor. If you decide to hire a pro, ask to see examples of fences they have installed. Choose to hire licensed companies and individuals since they’re typically bonded and insured. Get three to six estimates from contractors to get a clear picture of how the companies stack up against each other.
Be a Good Neighbor
Be open and upfront with neighbours about your fencing plans. Try not to unnecessarily block their views. A party fence can be built and shared by two or more neighbours, but such agreements should be made in writing and only after the property boundaries have been professionally determined. Installing a good neighbour fence—a wood privacy fence where the finished side (the more attractive, smooth side) faces the neighbour’s property—is commonly considered good etiquette.
In cold northern climates that experience frost, concrete anchors are necessary for fence posts. The post should be secured 36 inches deep to avoid cracking in a cold snap. For warmer, damper climates, vinyl is your best material choice, as wood is susceptible to water damage. In very cold climates, wood, bamboo, and metal fences are the most durable.
For safety and convenience, plan at least two paths into a fenced area. Ensure that one of these is large enough to accommodate bulky outdoor equipment such as lawnmowers and large garbage cans. Stepping stones, pergolas, and other decorative elements can help indicate the locations of gates. A classic white picket fence paired with a matching arbour and gate makes a charming entrance to any yard.
Dress It Up
Plan on giving your fence budget a little padding to incorporate your style into your fence project. Once your fence is in place, customize it with decorative posts or finials. Depending on your home’s style, you may want to paint the fence a contemporary colour. Consider planting a row of flowers in front of it for a truly welcoming facade. For a fresh look, attach plant hanger hooks to a wood fence and insert pots planted with annuals to create a wall of living colour.
What Is the Average Cost to Build a Fence?
If you’re looking to keep out nosy neighbours or keep in a fleet-footed pooch or toddlers, you might be curious about what it’d cost to build or repair a fence around your yard.
Like most home improvement projects, the cost to build or repair a fence varies greatly, depending on the total amount of fencing you need, the materials you use, and a number of other factors. Unlike other projects, however, a new fence won’t necessarily add a ton of value to your house, but it can certainly be worth the money in terms of enjoyment and practical benefits.
The Costs of Fence Construction
According to data from Home Advisor, the average cost to build a fence is anywhere from $1,648 to nearly $4,000, with the average sitting around $2,700. The exact pricing depends on many factors, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $13 to $50 per linear foot of fencing if you use average-cost labour and materials.
Below are the line items included in your final total. Some, like permits, won’t be negotiable, but for others, like materials, you’ll need to make decisions that will impact the cost.
- Materials, including wood, concrete, pickets, rails, panels, etc.
- City building permits
- Utility line marking
- Preparation of the fence site
- Contract labor (about $30 to $80 per hour)
- Delivery or shipping of materials
- Approvals or Permits from your homeowner’s association
- Gates ($75 to $1,000)
- Hardware and decorative elements
- Removal of old fencing, posts, or concrete
The Cost of Fencing Materials
One of the key decisions you’ll need to make is what material to use for your fence. The prices for various materials can range from under $10 to over $75 per square foot.
- Chain link ($1,100 to $2,800)
- Wood ($1,500 to $4,000)
- Wrought iron (about $2,500)
- Vinyl ($2,000 to $5,000)
- Aluminum (2,000 to $5,000)
- Steel ($10 to $350 per eight-foot section)
- Wire ($1 to $3 per linear foot)
Another decision you’ll need to make is how high you want the fence to be. A fence that’s at least four to six feet tall—known as a privacy fence—will be more costly than one that’s just a few feet high. Privacy fences are intended to separate your yard, patio or other enclosed space from neighbours and other surrounds, and are typically made of wood, vinyl, or aluminium. They’re good for patios, backyards, and areas with pools or hot tubs.
Generally, chain link fences are the cheapest option overall. These tend to offer little privacy and are only a few feet high.
Saving Money on Your Fence Installation
If you need a new fence because of weather damage or recent storms, make sure to check your homeowner’s insurance first.
You can also do the following to reduce the costs of your fence install:
- Choose simple gates, locks, and other elements
- Do some or all of the project yourself
- Choose a lower-height fence or cheaper materials
- Increase the gap size between planks, rods, or pickets
- Build your fence in the winter, when contractor demand is low
Work to prevent any costly mistakes, too. Make sure you know what type of soil you’re working with so that contractors can accurately estimate your project costs. You should also know what permits you’ll need for the job, and take time to prep your yard (including any equipment entry points) before your contractor arrives.
Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
Protecting and maintaining your fence can help you get the most out of your investment. If you have a wood fence, cover it with a weather-resistant stain to keep water and other elements from penetrating the wood. You should also repair any weather damage as it crops up, and be sure to re-stain the fence surface annually.
Keeping outside pests at bay (via regular termite treatments and sprays) can help keep your wood fence in top condition. You might also consider pressure-washing your fence annually to remove any potentially harmful mould or residue from the surface.
Finally, if you have the fence professionally installed, make sure you get a warranty for both materials and labour. This can help you cover any damage or repairs needed down the line.