Fences can provide privacy, protect your property, increase your curb appeal, or any combination of the three. However, a successful fence build can vary significantly depending on where your home is located and the job you want your fence to perform.
Whether you are looking for a tough and economical chain-link fence to keep pets in and unwanted critters out, a tall wooden fence to keep out prying eyes, or an all-American white picket fence to add that perfect touch to your home's landscaping, price and life expectancy are going to be factors. According to the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, a wood fence (when properly maintained) has a life expectancy of about 20 years. On the other hand, a polyvinyl fence has a life expectancy of more than 100 years and will typically require less maintenance.
The bottom line is this: Although putting up a fence is a relatively simple project when compared to a major kitchen remodel or bathroom addition, plenty of things must be taken into account before you build. Here are five questions every homeowner must answer before beginning a fence project.
1.How much maintenance are you prepared to perform on your fence?
Some fencing materials are virtually maintenance-free; others will require painting, sealing, and other tasks with regularity if they are going to look good and reach their full life expectancy. Homeowners should seriously consider the amount of work they want to put into their new fence well before they talk to a contractor about installing one.
2.What is your budget?
It sounds like a no-brainer, but having a firm budget in place before the project starts is something that many a homeowner has overlooked. There are fences out there for nearly every budget, and having a specific number in mind right from the start will make it much easier for your fencing contractor to provide you with options. See our article How Much Does a Fence Build Cost for additional information.
3.How practical is the fence I'm thinking of building?
Before a fence build, many homeowners already have a vision of what their property will look like after the job is finished. Having a clear vision of what you want before you talk to a contractor is never a bad thing, but homeowners must be aware that many fence materials are ill suited to certain climates and geographic locations. For example: An elaborate wrought iron fence – one of the most expensive types of fences on the market – is an excellent choice for high-end properties in southern California, but that same fence will add less property value in a neighborhood of moderately priced homes and is likely to require significantly more maintenance when installed in a moisture-rich area like southern Florida. A clear vision with a fixed budget is invaluable when talking to contractors, but flexibility and research when creating that vision is a key element of a practical, affordable fence project.
4.Can my new fence serve more than one purpose?
Many homeowners decide to put in a fence to serve a single, specific need (i.e., creating a safe area for small children to play or providing a visual barrier between two properties). Fences can be extremely versatile, however, and knowing what additional functions a fence can satisfy during the planning stages will save time and money during the actual project. A chain-link fence is a relatively inexpensive choice for keeping the family dog out of harm's way, but increase its height and plant a few strategically placed crawling vines, and you'll have more privacy as well as enhanced curb appeal. Examining your options before you break ground means you won't miss an opportunity to get more function from your home-improvement dollar.
5.How do my neighbors feel about this?
It's your property, and you have every right to improve it as you see fit, but fences that run along property lines can have an effect on your neighbor's property, too. Before you begin your project, talk to the folks next door and tell them your intentions. In some cases, neighbors have been able to save significant amounts of money by using a single contractor to install two fences!
Make sure all your hard work doesn’t go down the drain by applying a sealant. That will make it harder for stains to show the next time.