There’s nothing more satisfying than hammering in the last panel on the fence you built yourself. A beautiful fence can transform your property, but building it wrong can make you seriously regret trying your hand at fence DIY. Building a new fence isn’t as easy as choosing your materials, colour, and height.
We’ve put together the ultimate list of common mistakes people make when building a fence themselves. Read on to make sure you get a fence that looks like it was installed by a pro and to avoid any costly mistakes.
We know you want to get cracking straight into the building part of your fence, but the most important part of the process is the planning. Yeah, yeah, it sounds boring, but if you don’t plan properly, you could get into a lot of trouble with your neighbours, the council, and most importantly, your partner!
Do the work to find out exactly where your property ends. You don’t want to be going over into your neighbour’s land! That can cause all kinds of headaches – personally and legally!
Check that you have the right permissions to build the fence you want – there are rules for fencing on your property – make sure you know them. Research the zoning laws and take a look at your property plans to know where pipes and drains are.
Once you know the area where you’ll put the fence, measure it multiple times so you know exactly how much building materials to order.
Research potential fencing materials carefully. Take a good, hard look at your preferred product before you buy it. Think about the quality, durability, warranty, and maintenance of the product you’re using, not just what it looks like and how much it costs.
Make sure you have the right tools to install your fence. You could borrow them from your buddies, but hiring good quality equipment can make life much easier.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when building a fence is choosing the wrong style, materials, and colour. You’ve got to do your due diligence when it comes to choosing the right materials to go with. Shop for a fencing system without thinking it through, and you’ll end up with something you hate and will have to replace sooner than you thought.
Before you get out that credit card, think about what you and your family really need from your fence: do you want more privacy in your outdoor space? Do you need to block out the wind? Do you want to hide the street view, secure your pool, or keep your dogs in? Don’t make the fatal mistake of not knowing why you need a fence in the first place!
Here’s your need-to-know info on choosing the right fence based on the space you’re working with and your specific needs.
Is your house too close to your neighbour’s and you want more privacy? Choose a fence with little space, or none at all, between the boards.A simple trellis can offer privacy by combining it with foliage or some climbing vines. The height of your fence is important, but how high you build it depends on the slope of your yard, and your neighbor’s yard too, not to mention any local building codes that could throw a spanner in your plans! Measure out the height before you do anything permanent – it’s easy enough to do.
Live in Wellington?! Then you’re going to want to get away from that wind! If you need to block strong breezes but you don’t want to lose the sunshine or a beautiful view, your best option is glass. Glass comes with its own issues though, for instance, it gets dirty and smudgy really fast, especially if you’ve got young children. If blocking a view isn’t an issue for you, any privacy fence with little to no gaps between boards will work well. For height, think about your seating area – the fence can be a few feet lower there than around an area where people will be standing, like around the barbeque.
When it comes to keeping your home safe, a solid fence is a great start. The most important features to have for a security fence are a taller height, a lack of spots to grip, and a tough, lockable gate. Any security fence should be at least 6 feet high, but again, make sure you have consent.
If you live on a busy street, you want to create peace of mind by creating a peaceful backyard space, right?. Start with the right fence! You may wish to block a view into your neighbour's yard but not lose too much light on your own, so pick a fence with small gaps between boards – like a trellis, so you can still get the light and the quiet you’re looking for. Layer it with lush plants for extra privacy and sound proofing. Always remember to test out the fence height you’re considering before you commit! Too short, and you’re still going to get all that street noise you’re trying to avoid.
A 3- to 4-foot fence is the right height for smaller dogs and pooches who aren’t inclined to jump. If your dog’s bigger, you’ll need something taller, or you’ll be left wondering,”Who let the dogs out?”. Got a digger on your hands? It’s an easy enough fix. Bury your fence at 6 inches or so underground, or better yet, place hardscaping such as stone pavers or cement along the fence line to keep those little paws from wreaking havoc. A solid fence is a good bet if man’s best friend is a real yapper. This way he won’t be triggered by visual cues like cars, humans, and cats, and you’ll all sleep better at night.
Precise measurements are the backbone of a successful fence installation, so get out that measuring tape, mate. And we’re talking a one-off – be prepared to measure, measure, and measure again to avoid any silly mistakes. Even better, take the measurements yourself, and then get a friend to measure it too to make sure it’s the right number. Why do measurements matter? Well one, you have to stay within the law when it comes to height, but the right numbers will also help you order the right amount of materials to complete your dream fence! Measuring correctly will also help you avoid attempting to return surplus supplies, which often isn’t possible and can leave you out of pocket.
The golden rule of fencing is that a fence is only as strong as its posts, which are so often overlooked. Don’t make the mistake of making your posts an afterthought – they’re just as important as the rest of it. Posts happen to be one of the most expensive parts of your fence for a reason, because they’re important, so take the time to choose and install them carefully. A good fence needs at least two types of post: anchor and line. Anchor posts should be set deeply, braced solidly, and set in concrete to make sure they’re totally stable. Line posts are the smaller posts between each anchor post. Their prime function is to position your fence so they’re under less stress, which means they don’t need to be as large or strong as the others.
One common post mistake is putting posts in crooked. Rookie mistake mate! Both anchor and line posts should be:
as straight as humanly possible (you can do it!)
buried deep in the ground
set in good quality concrete
One last thing: don’t forget to face the fence posts, rails, and pickets towards your house – this will give it more curb appeal for future sale. Check out our guide on digging post holes for more tips and tricks.
We’ve mentioned it before, but we’re bringing it up again because fencing your neighbour’s property is such a common mistake. When putting up a boundary fence, you have to know where your exact property line is. Look at the plans, but if you really want to avoid a costly mistake, talk with a surveyor. Remember, local restrictions can dictate how close your fence can be built to your property line.
If you want your fence to be directly on your property line, talk to neighbour first. They might be willing to share the cost and maintenance with you. Always get an agreement in writing that details the specifics because one, people can change their minds, and two, this will guarantee the arrangement in case a new neighbor moves in. Some neighbours don’t want to play ball, though. If an agreement can’t be reached, build your fence sufficiently inside your property line to avoid intruding on your neighbour’s property.
Lastly, your safety comes first! Before digging for your new fence, it’s important to ensure that all underground utilities are properly marked on the surface. The depth of utility lines varies from property to property. To keep from risking damage to an underground utility line, harming yourself, disrupting service to your neighbourhood, and getting heavy fines, talk to your local council. They’ll send a locator to mark the locations of your underground utilities, so you can dig knowing that you’ll be safe.
Ready to tackle your fencing project but you don’t have the equipment? Hirepool has you covered. Call into your local branch or order gear easily online now.