A fence system that best suits your residential needs, property, budget and style offers a plethora of benefits. Among them are improving security, gaining privacy, enhancing your home’s curb appeal, and adding character, as well as safely corralling both children and pets and providing protection against noise and wind.
It serves both functional and decorative purposes. Aside from the type of fence you choose to build on your property, having it properly installed is vitally important to its performance over the long haul.
Whether you plan to build it yourself or get the specialized services of a professional, here are some common questions to ask yourself about fence installation before you get started.
1. Do I need a permit to install a fence?
This depends strictly on the laws, codes, and zoning of the community where you live. Each state has its own regulations regarding fencing, and in some legislatures local fencing guidelines and zoning ordinances control their height, type, and other feature so there might be local restrictions.
Many counties, townships, cities, and small towns will require that homeowners file a construction permit in order to ensure that their fence size, material, scale, and design adhere to local standards and practices, pose no safety risks to the public, and are built to code.
Additionally, if you live in a community with deed restrictions, it is recommended to also check with the homeowners’ association. Your neighbor’s approval may be necessary if you reside in a residential area of shared fences.
Permitting fees typically vary between $20-$30, but they can go up, depending on the scale and size of your project and where you are located. It may take anywhere from several hours to a couple of weeks to receive approval.
2. Should I worry about any potential utility issues prior to installing the fence?
Before starting the digging process, it is crucial to know exactly the location of the underground utility lines that run across the area where you plan to place your fencing system.
In addition to helping you avoid potential injuries such as electrocution, it will also save you the hassle of unnecessary penalties and expenses ( for instance, if an underground utility line needs to undergo repair work, your fence will be dug up).
To find out what are the utility issues you might be confronted with, it is advised to contact the building authority for your local area. For your peace of mind, you can also call 811 and get your underground lines marked free of charge.
3. How deep should the post holes be and how do I anchor the posts?
Most fencing projects typically require posts that are set minimum 3 feet deep, in order to prevent leaning. To encourage drainage, it is advised to set posts on a 7-inch base of crushed stone.
Next, you should fill around posts using the soil from the holes and pack it down every seven inches. In sandy soil, it is recommended to mix in gravel, so that it will pack firmly, while in clay soil, you should only pack gravel around posts.
Generally, post holes should be dug minimum 3 inches wider than the post, in order to provide space for the concrete that will be poured in the hole.
Concrete is especially important for gatepost support and it should typically cover one-third of the post’s length. Posts need to be braced until the concrete sets and each post usually requires 2-3 bags of concrete.
4. Should my fence touch the ground?
As a general rule, it should not touch the ground, not only because it makes lawn care more tricky, but also because the moisture in the ground can have a negative impact on your fence.
Especially if you plan to install a wood fence, it is essential to not have contact with the ground. By leaving space at the bottom, you can effectively prevent debris from being trapped underneath and causing it to rot.
5. How high should my fence be?
This depends on how you intend to use it. For instance, if you want to maintain privacy, then its height should be six feet maximum; numerous communities and counties require a construction permit as well as engineering plan for anything higher than 6 feet.
If you plan to use it to corral children and pets, then a fence that is 3-4 feet tall will prevent wandering, yet it will be low enough to offer an intact view of the surroundings, while allowing you to engage in a chat with your neighbors.
For enclosing a swimming pool, so that you can prevent unsupervised leaps, code requires a height of minimum 4 feet. While trying to keep deer out, it is recommended that it is at least 7 feet tall.
6. How do I prepare my fence for installation?
The preparation process is dependent on the material it is made of. For instance, if you plan to use metal for your fencing project, you should apply a carefully selected primer as well as rust-resistant topcoat to increase its durability.
If you plan to use wood, which is more expensive, you should protect it from the elements by coating it with a preservative or stain (paint is not recommended in this case). Additionally, posts should be pressure-treated with either a decay-resistant coniferous species (e.g. cedar) or a preservative.
If you can’t decide what type of fence you think is right for you, check out our fence buying guide here for more information.