Good Neighbor Fence

Mind Your Manners

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, putting up a fence is great for you, but may not sit so well with the surrounding neighbors. We give you a lesson in fence manners here.

Discussing the fence. There is no excuse for keeping the fence a secret. Since the structure will be visible on and from their property, it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and make them aware of the situation. This will not only keep the peace between you (hopefully), but will also help in determining the property line. If you accidentally build the fence on the neighbor’s property, you will likely have to tear it down. Discuss this with the neighbor and have a surveyor come check out your property. If you are part of an HOA, run the plans by them as well to check for restrictions. You do not necessarily have to share your specific design plans with neighbors, however.

Paying for the fence. Maybe you and your neighbor are old pals and both agree a fence would be a nice addition. In this case, the cost should be split between the two of you. But if you want the fence and your neighbor doesn’t, you cannot expect him or her to chip in for the cost. Sometimes a neighbor will offer to pay a portion of the cost for a fence so they can have a say in its design and construction. If you are OK with this, let them, but don’t feel obligated.

Construction of the fence. If you want to keep things peaceful in the community, be mindful of a few things when the fence is being built. First, choose a design that matches your home and the neighborhood as a whole, and keep the unfinished side (the side with backboards) inward facing your own home. Also, when it comes to maintenance, take care of both sides (unless you split the cost). If your neighbor did not help to pay for the fence or want it in the first place, they should not be responsible for keeping it in good condition. If you don’t want to worry about maintenance, go with vinyl or aluminum, which are easier to clean.

After the fence is built. Chances are, once the fence is built, all will be well. If for some reason you notice that your neighbor is harming or causing damage to the fence, take photos and confront the neighbor about fixing the damage. If they refuse, you can bring the issue to a small claims court.

A fence that isn’t yours. Looking at the flip side, what if your neighbor puts up a fence that is an eye-sore? Unless it violates laws or HOA rules, impacts the value of your home, or is dangerous, there is really nothing you can do. The best option is to try to mask it either with your own fence or by planting hedges or other shrubs.


Courtesy of MMC Fencing