Fences are a great investment. They provide you and your neighbors with privacy and keep pets and children in your yard. They can even add value to your home. Good fences make good neighbors. But building a fence or connecting to a neighbor’s fence without consulting them could cause major issues. Fence disputes can turn the friendliest neighbors against each other.
TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS
In most areas, you’re not required to have permission from your neighbor to build a fence. But doing so can save you from disputes during construction which can cost you time and money.
If your neighbors don’t have a fence, you can ask them if they’d like to split the cost. You never know if your neighbor plans to have a fence installed themselves. If your neighbor would benefit from a boundary fence on their property, they might happily agree to share the expense.
Many traditional fencing styles have a “good side” and an unfinished or back side. The good side shows the smoother, finished fence, while the back side shows the posts. Offering to give the neighbor the good side of the fence is a great way to extend the olive branch. There are also “good neighbor” fence designs, which look the same on both sides.
MIND YOUR LOCAL FENCE REGULATIONS AND HOA RULES
Many states, towns, and cities have zoning regulations regarding fences. For example, you might not be able to build a fence higher than 8 feet. Also, state laws don’t contain any laws about fence aesthetics. But your town or city code might dictate the type of fence style you can have. Checking with your local ordinances can save you time, money, and stress.
Another body of rules you may have to follow is that of your Homeowner’s Association if you have one. HOAs often have strict fence style, size, and color guidelines.
When you hire a company to build your fence, they are not responsible for knowing these rules. So, you’ll have to make sure you know the HOA’s rules on fences and communicate those rules to the builders.
CONNECTING TO A NEIGHBOR’S FENCE
In many cases, your neighbor may have a recently installed fence that is still in good shape. So what should you consider when choosing to tie into your neighbor’s fence?
Can I Connect to My Neighbor’s Fence?
In regard to construction, yes, in most cases, you can connect your fence panels to the support post on your shared side. But there are a few things to consider:
How Does Your Neighbor Feel?
Building a fence without asking your neighbor is impolite. But connecting to your neighbor’s fence post without asking is even worse.
From your neighbor’s perspective, they invested a lot of time and money into installing a fence in their yard. If you’re connecting to their fence, you’re directly benefiting from the money they spent to build that side of the fence.
Define Your Property Lines
Before you consider building a fence, ensure you know where your property line is. A lot of homeowners mistakenly think their property is bigger than it is.
If you don’t have an official property survey, you should always locate your property boundaries before building a fence. Without this, you risk encroaching on your neighbor’s property which can be ad costly issue to remedy.
To find out where your property line is, call a property surveyor. A land survey usually costs around $500 and will tell you exactly where your property line is. Many homeowners who have had one agree that it’s well worth the cost to have proof of their property boundaries.
Avoid physically connecting to your neighbor’s fence when possible
In many cases, it is practical to use your own posts to avoid connecting to your neighbor’s fence. Doing this allows you to be dependent on your own materials while avoiding making any intrusive connections to your neighbor’s fence.
REMOVING AND REPLACING A NEIGHBOR’S FENCE:
What if your neighbor’s fence is in bad condition and needs to be removed and replaced?
It’s time for you to get a new fence, but your neighbor’s existing fence sits on the property line, and it is falling apart and needs to be replaced. Speak to your neighbor and come to an agreement. They might be willing to split the cost of the new fence with you. Discuss design options and budget with your neighbor when deciding to do this. If you have different ideas in mind and need help finding a solution, your local fence experts can discuss fence style options and layout variations with you to help you make an informed decision.
Once that’s done, your local fence company can handle the rest. Fence companies offer services to remove, haul away, and dispose of the existing fence. By removing the old fence, you can build a beautiful brand-new fence in the same location, which benefits both you and your neighbor.
INSTALLING YOUR NEW FENCE NEXT TO A NEIGHBOR’S EXISTING FENCE:
If your neighbor’s fence is falling apart, but you can’t come to an agreement on how to handle it, what other options do you have?
As a last resort option, you can install a fence side by side. Depending on the style of fence selected for installation, there may be construction limitations to consider. Discuss with your local fence pros before building the fence on your property. Your Home Owners Association, or HOA, may also have some input in this. Many neighborhoods with HOAs have fence guidelines and an application process to follow. Many HOAs have restrictions that may prevent you from putting a fence next to an existing neighbor’s fence. Be sure to review your Architectural Review Committee’s guidelines to ensure you are not having a fence installed that could result in fines.