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Depending on the time and consideration that goes into it, a fence can be an ugly necessity which you have to tolerate, or it can be a beautiful accent which complements your home. By avoiding the most common mistakes which homeowners make when planning, installing and eventually repairing their fences, you can enjoy privacy, beauty and security all at the same time.
In this article, we'll cover the most common mistakes made with fence installation and repair, as well as how to avoid these costly errors. In most cases, avoiding excess spending and worry is as simple as putting a little extra forethought into the process.
Ignorance of Local Codes
In most areas, local laws, rules and codes are in place regarding fences. Depending on where you live, these regulations might be very vague or extremely detailed.
In neighborhoods which place a great deal of importance on outward appearances, such as wealthier subdivisions, you may find very specific rules as to what is and is not acceptable. Common regulations in these areas include specific heights, colors and, in some cases, even materials.
On the other hand, in rural areas, you may find just a few general guidelines intended to ensure safety. Generally, the more remote your property, the fewer regulations you'll have to deal with. Of course, if you keep livestock on your property, even just a few horses, you'll need to check with the city to see if there are extra specifications.
Regardless of where you live or what types of guidelines you need to follow, ignoring these guidelines is a big mistake. Unfortunately, it's one that many homeowners make every year. Often, homeowners think that nobody will notice if they build their fence a few feet taller than regulations specify, or if they violate some other seemingly minor ordinance. While it's true that these things often go unnoticed for years, the hassle of replacing your fence when it does come to the attention of officials is something you simply don't want to deal with. Not to mention the fines which usually accompany a violation.
Play it safe and find out about local regulations before you begin planning your new fence. If you follow the rules from the beginning, you'll never have to worry about getting a notice in the mail demanding that you replace your fence.
Ignoring Your Home's Design
One of the simplest and most commonly made mistakes during fence installation is failing to pay attention to your house. A fence doesn't have to match your house - in fact, too much matching can look as odd as clashing. However, the fence shouldn't be at war with the home's overall style and design.
For example, consider a traditional Victorian home. These beautiful houses are often restored to their original states, complete with ornate wooden lace trim and elaborate turrets. Now picture such an ornamental home surrounded by a plain, basic, steel chain link fence. It doesn't quite go together, does it? While that chain link fence might be doing a good job of keeping children and pets inside the yard, it's not doing a thing to enhance the beauty of the home. In fact, it's actually detracting from the home's appearance.
Surely, you can think of many examples of clashing home/fence combinations. Avoiding this common mistake is as simple as taking time to look at your house! Are the lines ornate or simple? Steep or gentle? Rounded or sloped? Would certain colors set the house off nicely, and are there colors you should probably avoid? Once you spend a few minutes out in front of your house, all these questions will answer themselves. Armed with that knowledge, you'll have all you need to avoid an unsightly mistake. In the process, you'll also save yourself the expense of replacing or repainting the offending structure.
Ignoring the Design of Your Yard
If your yard doesn't have much in the way of landscaping, you have less to worry about. However, if you do have a landscaped lawn, don't make the mistake of ignoring that landscaping.
Just like a home, a yard has decor and shows off your personal style. Choosing a fence which complements this decor goes a long way toward creating a harmonious appearance. If you have landscaped your yard with a large number of plants, you don't want to interfere with their growth. You also want to maintain a view of those plants, either from the house or the street. Consider fencing which plants can grow up and over. While certain plants can climb nearly anything, a fence with plenty of open spaces encourages this growth. Over time, you'll barely be able to see the fence at all; you'll see a beautiful wall of greenery.
If your yard has been landscaped with a certain theme, such as a Greek theme with statues and fountains, you'll want to seek out a fence which doesn't interfere with the theme. A white fence would be a good choice, as would a fence constructed of certain types of stone or resin which mimics stone.
Regardless of the theme of your yard, or whether it has a theme or not, just be sure to purchase and install a fence that doesn't clash. Picture that unsightly chain link mentioned above surrounding a yard filled with elegant Greek fountains - not pretty.
If you have a garden, you'll want to keep it in mind as well. Leaving your garden unprotected is an open invitation for animal (and neighborhood children) to steal the vegetables and fruits you worked hard to grow. When fencing in your yard, consider sectioning off your garden with a fencing material that will keep intruders out.
Blocking the View
In many cases, a fence is installed to give the homeowner a sense of privacy. After all, nobody wants their neighbors glancing out a window and spotting you sunbathing in the backyard.
When erecting a fence for privacy purposes, don't make the common mistake of inadvertently blocking your own view in the process. In certain cases, this is unavoidable. However, many options exist which can give you privacy while still allowing you a view. Fences in which the wood slats overlap at an angle are a popular choice. When looked at directly, they offer complete privacy and can't been seen through. However, when you look at them from an angle, you can see through to the other side.
Using trees to create a privacy fence is a popular option. It may block a bit of your view, but many homeowners find that if they have to block their view, they would rather look at trees than a row of fencing.
Blocking a neighbor's view is another common mistake when installing a fence. In fact, many neighborhood regulations exist for this very reason. Check your local regulations, and take a look from your neighbor's yard to ensure that your fence isn't blocking anything except the view into your own yard.
Installing a fence properly depends heavily on the stability of the posts. In many cases, inexperienced workers will assume that simply driving the post into the ground is good enough. While this may seem stable at the time, it's not reliable. In order for a fence post to be installed correctly, a hole must be dug and partially filled with concrete. The fence post is then inserted, and extra concrete is poured. The post is then held in place until the cement has sufficiently set.
Tedious? Sure. But when strong winds blow or kids climb your fence, you'll be glad that your contractor took the time to do the job right. One of the most common mistakes in installation is improper anchoring. This is also a leading cause of repair work. If your contractor tries to tell you that your fence doesn't require this type of anchoring, be sure to ask why and then research the answer online. If the answers you find don't match up, consider a different contractor.
While there are many more mistakes to be made during the planning and installation of a fence, repairing fences isn't free of potential errors. Nearly all of them have to do with attention to detail and quality of workmanship.
Obtain a warranty on the work when your fence is installed. Most reputable contractors will offer a warranty of some type. A common mistake which translates into higher repair bills is failure to obtain a warranty.
If at all possible, hire the same company which installed your fence when it comes time to repair it. For all but the very simplest repairs, it's always beneficial for a repair worker to have some prior knowledge. Even if the workers aren't the same, they work for the same company, which means they've probably installed and repaired your particular type of fence in the past. This experience translates into quicker and more reliable repairs.
If you can't get in touch with the same company which installed your fence, ask any prospective repair workers if they've worked on your type of fence in the past. This is most important on more intricate types of fencing.
Attempting a quick-fix DIY repair can save you money, but it can also result in one of the most classic, and ugliest, fence mistakes. Replacing a broken fence board or slat can be done on a DIY basis. However, take the extra time to purchase materials which match the rest of your fence. Nothing catches the eye faster than a white fence with one unfinished, unpainted, stained board which you found lying around in your garage. Temporary repairs are one thing, but don't let a simple repair destroy the visual appeal of your entire fence.
As you can see, avoiding common fence mistakes is a matter of common sense and a bit of forethought. Think each decision through, hire carefully and address repair issues promptly. You'll be rewarded with a beautiful and functional addition to your property.