More and more people are making improvements to their homes during the pandemic, especially improvements to their outdoor space. With the price of lumber currently at all-time highs, many people have been thinking about doing a DIY fence installation to cut down on costs. Depending on the size of the fence you are installing it can take a weekend to a week or even more to complete, but there are some things you need to know before beginning. Keep reading to see if this is a project you think you can tackle on your own.
- The first step is to determine if you need any building or zoning permits to build a fence on your property. Also, check your survey to determine exact property lines and find out about any easements. Do some research into your neighborhood bylaws as they may contain specifications for fence height, materials, or appearance.
- Sharing a fence line across the edge of your property with a neighbor is a good way to share the cost. If you choose to go this route, be sure to have a written agreement in place before beginning any construction. Even if you aren’t going to be sharing a fence with your neighbors, it would be courteous to discuss your plans with them before breaking ground.
- Always call 811 before you dig. Underground utilities need to be clearly marked to avoid a dangerous situation or a service interruption.
- Choose your materials wisely. Wood fences are beautiful and economical, but they require regular maintenance. Cedar or redwood is typically used as these woods are more resistant to rot and decay. Always use pressure-treated wood for the posts as the parts that go into the ground are susceptible to insects and moisture. Composite, vinyl, or metal fence materials cost more upfront, but require much less in time and money for maintenance.
- Mark the layout of your fence clearly with stakes and line. Determine the location of all the posts and mark those spots for digging. Fence posts should be installed a minimum of 36” into the ground. Adding gravel to the bottom of the hole will provide extra drainage that will prevent water from affecting the bottom of your fence posts. Use a level to ensure fence posts are plumb in both directions. The more secure your fence posts, the longer your fence will last. After securing the posts with cement, allow them to dry for 24 hours.
- Installation of the fence panels will vary depending on the type of fence you choose. Be sure to use galvanized or stainless steel screws and nails as they are resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Secure the gate. Gates are often the most difficult part of your fence installation as you have to be spot on with your measurements and you often need at least one additional pair of hands to hold it in place while you attach the hardware.
- If using wood, protect it. Staining helps extend the life of a wooden fence by protecting it from elements that cause rotting.
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