A privacy fence is a particular kind of fence designed to achieve one primary goal – privacy. Its very purpose is to block out people, pets, trespassers, and even neighbors. As one of the most common styles of fencing, a privacy fence is an excellent way to achieve security, seclusion, and protection.

While building a privacy fence is an important addition to any home, some homeowners have experienced kickback from their neighbors. Not everyone is fond of privacy fencing, so let’s explore different ways to decrease potential conflict from naysayers.

Types of Privacy Fences

A fence increases the value of a home and boosts its curb appeal, but not all fences offer privacy. For example, white picket fences create an attractive border and can even accentuate your landscaping. However, they do not stop others from seeing into your yard. A chain link fence is another example of a type of fence that does not qualify as privacy fencing. There are three privacy fence options:

Standard Privacy Fence: This is your everyday privacy fence. It is built using pickets, also known as slats or boards, cut to the average size (usually six-feet). The standard pickets are nailed or screwed to backer rails.

Decorative Privacy Fence: A decorative privacy fence utilizes unique design elements to elevate the appearance of a fence. This type of fence incorporates post caps, trim, and accent boards to create a customized look.

Horizontal Privacy Fence: With a horizontal fence, the pickets are lying in a horizontal direction. While most standard privacy fences place the pickets in a vertical position, horizontal pickets complement homes with more modern architecture.

Homeowners love privacy fences for a variety of reasons. A privacy fence protects your property by setting clear boundaries. It acts as a physical barrier to intruders and helps to deter curious onlookers with prying eyes. A privacy fence is a safety net as well. A strong and sturdy fence keeps children and pets in and unwanted visitors out.

Rules and Regulations to Follow

Installing a privacy fence is within your rights as a homeowner if you follow certain rules and regulations. While common courtesy goes a long way, it’s all about making sure you take proper precautions and do not violate local laws and restrictions. That way, if your neighbors still put up a fight, you know your fence is legal and you can defend your decision to put up a privacy fence. When homeowners ignore rules or restrictions, that’s when neighbor disputes get tricky.

There are two main sets of standards you should follow when building a privacy fence – HOA regulations and city requirements. Homeowners should check both the HOA standards and city standards because oftentimes, there are different requirements set forth by either entity.

HOA Regulations: Every Homeowners Association has some kind of restrictive deeds and covenants, known as CCRs. Those CCRs can regulate fence height, location, type, color, and materials.

City Requirements: Similar to an HOA, a city can enforce specific rules based on your location, where you plan to build your fence, and the way it will look. City officials look at particular information, such as:

  • Lot Location – Is your home located on a corner lot? Does your property have diverse topography? Where will the fence be located compared to your exact property lines?
  • Fence Location – Are you building a fence in the front, rear, or side of your property? Will the potential fence about another residential property, a commercial building, an open space, or a road?
  • Fence Appearance – Do you want a six-foot or eight-foot privacy fence? Will you include decorative features, such as fence caps or columns?

When building a privacy fence, a city might require a homeowner to pull a permit. There are building permits, fencing permits, and zoning permits. If a permit is needed, you probably will be required to submit building plans to the city. Sometimes a homeowner can complete this step, while other times a city requires a licensed contractor or engineer to be involved.

For example, civil engineering plans can show and address drainage patterns of a property. This is useful information for a disgruntled neighbor. When you prove you researched the rules and followed them, you protect yourself against the complaints of neighboring homeowners.

Before You Build

You know you want to build a privacy fence, but what now? Not that you need your neighbors’ permission to put up a fence, but what can you do to extend simple courtesy and avoid arguments?

Do your research. No two cities will have the exact same requirements, so don’t assume you know the rules. Ask questions. Be thorough. You might need to seek out a recent property plat or hire a surveyor to clarify property lines. Yard encroachment is bound to lead to friction and complaints from your neighbor. Don’t forget to check your HOA regulations as well.

A privacy fence is an investment worth doing right the first time. Gather information and take the time to learn how you can successfully complete your fencing project.

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