Homeowners put up fences for many different reasons, and they choose a variety of fencing options to provide the solutions they need. The homeowner who just spend thousands of dollars putting in an above-ground or in-ground pool may erect a fence to protect his investment and keep local children safe from harm. The homeowner who recently moved to a new home may erect a fence to mark the boundary of her property and provide her family with the privacy it needs. The horse owner may put up a secure wood or wire fence to keep their animals contained and neighboring properties protected.

No matter what the reason for erecting the fence, it is important to avoid common fencing mistakes. It is far less costly to build a high quality fence that is appropriate for your needs than to tear it all down and rebuild it later. Making one of these common fencing mistakes could cost you thousands of dollars and even put the safety and security of your property at risk. Learning from the mistakes other homeowners have made is the best way to protect yourself and your home.

Check and Mark Property Lines

Perhaps the most common, and most avoidable, mistake do-it-yourself fence installers make is not properly marking the property lines. You may think you know exactly where your property ends and your neighbor’s begins, but if you are wrong you could end up tearing down your newly erected fence and paying to repair any damage to the other property.

Before you dig your first post hole or secure your first board, you need to check and double check the property lines. If there is even the slightest doubt, you should have the area surveyed and clearly marked. The cost of the survey is a drop in the bucket compared to what removing a freshly erected fence will be.

Dig Post Holes Below The Frost Line

dig below the frost line

Another common mistake homeowners make when installing fences is not burying the fence posts deep enough. It is easy to understand the temptation to keep those post holes shallow – digging them is hard work, especially if you are doing it by hand. Even so, without deeply set posts even the fanciest fence will soon start to sag.

If you want your fence to last, you need to place the posts at least two feet in the ground, ensuring that you get below the frost line which can vary by location. Often, 30 inches is the average. Also the fence height has some determination as to how deep to dig, a 6 foot fence usually will be dug 36 inches deep. The frost line, also known as frost depth or freezing depth is the depth to which the groundwater in soil is expected to freeze. If you are doing the work yourself, renting a gas-powered post hole digger will be a great investment. Even better, consider hiring a fencing contractor to dig those post holes for you and put up the fence as well.

If you do decide to dig the post holes yourself, be sure that the posts are anchored by a layer of gravel and concrete to hold it in place. The layer of concrete and gravel should be flush with the ground, as this will provide extra stability and improve the overall appearance of the fencing.

Plan Ahead – Visualize and Note The Lay Of The Land

Some homeowners also fail to take the lay of the land into account when planning a fencing project. This can be a big mistake, since different kinds of landscapes can have vastly different fencing requirements.

For instance, if a section of your back yard is on an incline, you will need a special kind of fence to provide stability to that section and anchor the surrounding fence line. A standard straight panel may be fine for the rest of the back yard, but using a specialized panel for the incline part will make the entire fence more stable and help it last longer.

Don’t Get Fined! Know Your Restrictions

Last but not least, some homeowners make a big mistake when installing a new fence – one that can come back to haunt them and cost them thousands of dollars in expenses, fines and penalties. Those homeowners forget to do something very important and end up paying a high price for their oversight.

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or a more rural area, chances are your municipality places certain restrictions on what kind of fencing you can build and what kind of permit you need to build it. Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on the height of the fence you plan to erect, the types of materials you can use to build it and how far from the road it must be.

get your permitsFurther, we would strongly urge homeowners to check with their local HOA (Home Owners Association) as well. Some of the time an HOA can be more strict then the local town or city ordinances, as far as style and height restrictions. HOA’s can even put liens on homeowners homes who are not compliant.

Before you drive your first post hole into the ground or pick up your first board, you need to do your homework and find out what restrictions, if any, apply in your area. You may also need to supply a drawing of the proposed fence and its location and obtain a building permit before the work can begin.

No matter where you live or what kind of property you own, the right fencing can make a big difference in your quality of life and the privacy of your family. Whether you need a fence to keep your dogs protected while you are at work, keep your kids safe while they play or keep your backyard barbecues private, it is important to choose the right materials, work with a quality contractor and make sure your proposed project meets local restrictions and requirements.

Doing your homework and learning about the mistakes other homeowners have made is one of the best ways to make sure your own project goes smoothly. Simply knowing where others have gone wrong can help you avoid those same mistakes – saving you time, money and hassle in the process.


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