Fencing Project – Planning
Locating Your Fence
There are a number of things that you need to consider when planning your fence project. Locating the fence is clearly critical. Here are the issues you need to think about:
First of all, where is your property line? When the surveyors lay out lots in a neigborhood, they drive iron pins into the ground at the corners and other strategic location on your lot. If you live in a new neighborhood, chances are excellent that the pins are still in place. If your neighborhood is older, the pins have often been disturbed or removed during the completion of earlier projects. If this is the case, you may have a Real Property Report(RPR) that will help you locate the corners of your lot.
Hint: A lot of people do not realize that the RPR document is included in the documents you receive when you purchase a new home.
Now that you have located your property line, you need to decide where you are going to place the fence. Are your neighbors good neighbors? If so, you probably want to place the fence right on the line. If they are not or if you are concerned about future neighbors, you may wish to give up a few inches of property and place the fence inside your property line.
Hint: You can extend your fence past the front of your house but it cannot be over 4 feet in height without special permission from the city.
What About Fence Height?
When it comes to fences, height matters. The most popular height in the current age of fence fashion is 6 feet. A 6 foot fence will give you a nice private yard free from the prying eyes of all but the tallest neighbors. A 5 foot fence is alright but there are lots of people taller than 5 feet these days and privacy can be compromised. If cost is a concern, a 5 foot fence will not save you a lot of money.
8 foot fences are getting more popular recently as the additional height provides ultimate privacy. And if you are concerned about security in a ravine location for example, a tall fence is almost a necessity. The problem is that any height over 6 feet requires special permission from the city. This is typically not easy to get but if security is a concern, it does not hurt to try.
And Fencing Materials?
Now what about materials? If you live in a new neighborhood, chances are the decisions about materials, styles and finishing have already been made for you. Check with your builder for the possible Architectural Restrictions in your area. If you don’t live in an area that has Architectural Restrictions, there are a variety of materials to choose from with the exception of the posts.
You need to use pressure treated material for the posts. A pressure treated post will easily last 20 years while any other material in the ground will rot in just a few years. Posts typically come in 3 sizes: 4×4, 4×6 and 6×6. 4×4 posts will give you a credible fence but is less structural and aesthetic than a larger post. 6×6 posts will provide incredible structure, that is there will be a lot less wiggle when properly installed. They can look out of place, however, depending on the style of fence you build. We like 4×6 the best. They provide plenty of structure and when set with the long edge in line with the fence, they provide a pleasing look.
Hint: if you are installing a vinyl fence, there are a variety of post strategies depending on the manufacturer.
If you are installing a wood fence, you essentially have only a few choices: 1) Smooth untreated SPF(industry nomenclature for Spruce, Pine, Fir 2) Rough sawn untreated SPF 3) Resawn untreated SPF or 4) Pressure treated material. While SPF will save in cost of material, the labor and paint costs more than make up for the difference. In addition, untreated material will require regular maintenance to get the years of service that you need. This makes pressure treated our favorite. While painting is an option, pressure treated material will weather gracefully making a long lasting and beautiful finished product.
With respect to size, choose 5 foot boards for a 5 foot fence, 6 foot boards for a 6 foot and so on. The thickness and width is typically 1×6. This makes a nice size for fastening and is a nice width to minimize warping and cupping.
Hint: even though the size is listed as 1×6, this is a nominal size. The actual size is approximately 3/4″ x 5 1/4″ to 5 1/2″ depending on where you buy your material. This is important to note when you are estimating the amount of material you require.
Post Setting Material
Concrete vs Foam vs Concrete – The way you set your posts is critical to the structure of your fence. Foam is the latest in post setting material and is readily available at your local building supply store. While it is light, easy to install and structural, it adds expense and the jury is still out on longevity. We still favor pre-mixed concrete as it is tested and is relatively less expensive. We do not recommend putting the dry concrete in the hole and adding water. While this method does not require a mixer, you cannot control consistency and wetness. Long term this will impact structure unfavorably.
Hint: If you are fast tracking for your fence project, now is a good time to contact AlbertaOneCall. This is absolutely required to avoid hitting gas and power lines when installing your posts. It can take a couple of weeks to get them out during the busy season.