"Good fences make good neighbors," wrote Robert Frost in his poem "Mending Wall." And the legendary poet makes a good point, as fences can offer privacy, protect younger family members and pets as they spend time outdoors, and add to the aesthetics and value of a home.
If you're thinking about building a fence this summer, here's what you need to know:
What kind of fence should I build?
The type of fence you build depends on your needs and budget. Are you mostly looking for safety, privacy, or both? What kind of materials can you afford? Do you need to keep children or animals secure inside, or do you only need general coverage? As far as materials go, a chain link fence will generally be cheaper and simpler to install and can even last longer and be easier to maintain. A wooden fence can be more intensive and expensive to install, but it also offers more privacy and flexibility and can be more aesthetically pleasing. Other options include vinyl, iron, aluminum, or steel. Make a list of pros and cons to decide what type of fence will be best for your home and family.
How should I determine a budget?
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to build a fence is between $1,600 and $4,000. The easiest way to work out your budget is to figure out how many linear feet of fencing you will need, and then calculate a ballpark figure based on the cost of your desired material per linear foot. You will also need to factor in labor costs if you don't intend to put up the fence yourself. Finally, check out gates, hardware, and any paint or finishes you may need to complete your project.
What do I need to know before I build?
Depending on your city laws and building codes, there may be certain guidelines you will need to follow as far as the height of your fence or where it is located on your property. Some cities require you to get a permit before installing a fence. Last but not least, if you plan to dig in order to place fence posts, you will need to find out where the utility lines are on your property. Call 811 at least a few business days in advance to have someone come out and mark where it's safe to dig.
How do I plan for my new fence?
Before you start building and installing, it's important to have a plan. First, visit with your neighbors, let them know about the project, and get clear on where your property lines are. Use spray paint, stakes, and string to mark where your posts are going as well as the correct layout and location of the fence.
DIY or hire an installer/builder?
If you're a regular DIY-er and feel comfortable with a saw and basic tools, building a fence is a project that doesn't require a lot of special skills. On the other hand, it can often require hours and hours of hard labor, and if your yard is large or includes difficult terrain, you may be signing up for more than you bargained for. If you do choose to hire a professional, be sure to get estimates from several companies and check that they are licensed and have quality references.
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