Thinking about a Fence

A fence is more than just a barrier that protects your home. There are certain things you need to weigh when you want one for your home. You need to think about the cost, privacy and maintenance.

  1. Pick the best fence for your yard

Homeowners install fences for privacy, visual appeal, or for the safety of pets and children. If done well, fences are one of the key landscaping features that increase property values.

Ask yourself why you need a fence and let that answer guide your decision making, Pickens says. Prioritize your needs over your wants, not the other way around, he suggests.

“You might want a privacy fence, but need a picket fence,” he says, adding that he generally cautions against privacy fences, which may affect resale value. “When you go to sell your home, potential buyers are going to be like: ‘What are they hiding in there?’”

  1. Consider fence maintenance

Ask yourself how much time you want to spend maintaining your fence.

Wooden fencing requires the most maintenance because of the fence painting and staining required every couple years, but it can boost your property value by making your yard aesthetically pleasing, Pickens says.

Aluminum or vinyl fencing requires little ongoing upkeep, which makes those fence options appealing to many homeowners, Sterrett says. Wood fences offer the benefit of being more easily repaired than metal, Pickens says.

If a storm damages a few boards, you can replace them and make it blend in with the rest of your fencing, he says.

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It cannot be said that fencing costs a certain amount. There are other factors that come into play for the entire cost to be completed. Such factors are parts, permits and units.

Fence Installation Cost Factors

You’ll want a solid estimate for your project before you begin the build. There are five major cost considerations:

Parts: You can either acquire some of them yourself or rely on the fence contractor to get them and be charged later. While they will charge a markup fee, they receive discounts that could make the entire process cost-effective for you.

Permits: You will have to contact your local municipality to see if a permit is required. The average building permit costs about $800.

Utilities: You will have to verify the fence doesn’t interfere with their services. It’s possible the fence could strike underground pipes or wires. Call 811, which exists in every state, notes that not calling could lead to costly repairs on the part of the homeowner.

Grading: There’s a chance your costs could be higher for a fence installation if the land is sloped higher because it makes installation more difficult.

Labor: Expect to be charged per linear foot for materials and have labor and materials charged together.

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Many counties and cities require that a homeowner get a permit for any outdoor structure. This is so that the structure constructed will adhere to the standards and regulations approved by the city council or the local governing body.

Do I really need a fence permit?

As a general rule, adding outdoor structures, like a fence, requires a permit, but the real answer depends upon the codes, zoning and regulations of where you live. The codes and regulations established by your city, town or county will let you know exactly what type of fence requires a construction permit and what doesn’t. Some agencies also require a permit for repair or replacement of an existing fence. The specific rules and regulations will vary depend upon where you live, what type of community your home is situated in, what type of fence you want to build and if you are adding any special features. For example, if you live in a rural area, adding a barbed wire fence may be an easier approval compared with adding a barbed wire fence in the city. Additionally, if you live in a neighborhood of shared fences, your neighbor’s approval may be part of the permitting process.

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