You’re finally ready to build that backyard fence, and if you’re handy, you might be interested in DIY-ing it. After all, it could help you save a lot of money, and what could possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, plenty can go wrong…so much, in fact, that you could end up negating your savings and then some.
Let’s look at some of the most common fence building mistakes and rule them out. That way, you can build like a pro and give your budget a break.
● Botching the Measurements
Before you begin your project, you should measure the perimeter of the area you need fenced with precision. That way, you can order all of your materials at once and potentially secure a bulk discount.
Part of the measurement process involves calculating the distance between each post. You will use your total diameter figure to determine the quantity of all materials needed, so be sure to have your measurements recorded and handy throughout the whole process.
Many a fence builder has miscalculated and had to revisit the ordering process, delaying the project. And in some cases, they have even found that the materials they need are out of stock.
Pro-tip: Make sure to account for fencing corners, which require custom cuts. If your area is odd-shaped, you may be dealing with more corners.
● Picking the Wrong Materials
With measurements in hand, you may now consider which fencing material will best suit your purposes. Before you do so, determine what you want your fence to do. Are you looking for a privacy fence that offers seclusion, security, and noise reduction? Or a simple split rail to create a boundary between you and the neighbors? Maybe you want a lattice fence to surround your patio area.
You should also consider the weather in your area. Here in Colorado, cedar wood fences stand up to the drastic weather swings, generally resisting warping, shrinking, and cracking. Composite wood fences can hold up well with weather swings, too. They don’t offer the classic look of real wood nor as many options for customization, but they can be easier to maintain than wood.
Failing to properly research materials beforehand could leave you with a fence that won’t stand up to the elements or serve its intended purpose.
● Installing the Posts Incorrectly
Installing your fence as a DIY project is cost-effective and makes it more customizable, but those will not be good enough reasons for you when the fence blows over at the first sign of wind or snow.
Your fence post should go into the ground at least one-third the height of the fence. This means you should know how high you want your fence to be and purchase tall enough fence posts to accommodate this height. Getting those posts into the ground deep enough will help your fence withstand Mother Nature’s forces.
In addition to ensuring that your posts are long enough, and buried deeply enough, you need to make sure that they are secured with either gravel or concrete. Dirt can be used as filler at the end, but it doesn’t have the same resistance as cement or gravel. Make sure to use a leveling tool to ensure that your holes are each filled to ground level.
● Breaking Regs
A simple fencing project can turn into a legal nightmare without considering several issues beforehand:
- Property Lines – Make sure you know exactly where your property lines are to avoid having to tear down your finished project, especially if you’re making any irreversible changes. You may check your homeowner’s deed or a property survey to make sure you’re staying within the lines.
- Zoning and HOA Restrictions – Your local zoning or HOA may have limitations that you will want to be aware of before you begin digging or pouring concrete. Some of these may relate to material, height, or obtaining a permit or permission.
- Pipes – Your fence project will get a lot more complicated when your shovel hits the ground and water spurts out. While water would be a headache, hitting an electrical wire may be fatal. Make sure you’re not digging blindly to avoid being blindsided by pipes or wires underground.
● Not Consulting Your Neighbors
If you’ve observed this list, then you know where your property lines are, but you may be surprised to realize your neighbor has another idea. Taking a few minutes to knock on your neighbor’s door may benefit you more than you realize.
If there are property line disputes or strong feelings about any fencing decisions, consulting your neighbor before the project begins may stop the discord (or lawsuit) before it happens. Politely inform your neighbors of your project beforehand to avoid miscommunication or misinformation.
Have Fun Building
Others have learned the hard way; you don’t have to. Steer clear of these common mistakes. That way, you can have a rewarding fence building experience and end up with a finished product that is customized to all your preferences and easy on your wallet.