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Etiquette of Installing a Privacy Fence

Kathleen Mizia June 20, 2017

Etiquette of Installing a Privacy FenceDo good fences make good neighbors? They can, as long as you follow the proper etiquette when installing a privacy fence. If you’ve just purchased a home and would like to fence in your yard, follow this advice to stay on good terms with your new neighbors.

Determine the property line

Don’t assume you know where your property line is. Get clear on the exact dividing line between your property and your neighbor’s by having it surveyed. If a survey was not completed when you purchased your home, pay to have one done. They typically cost $500 - $2,000, depending on your area.

Follow town and HOA guidelines

Once you’ve determined your property lines, it’s now time to investigate your community’s guidelines. Find out what zoning regulations are in your area, including how tall your fence can be and the materials that can be used. In general, fences can be no taller than six feet in a backyard and four feet in the front. There may be additional regulations regarding corner lots, so be sure to find out if this applies to you. If you belong to a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), find out what the HOA guidelines are. This can save you hard feelings and a costly dispute down the line.

Meet with your neighbors

Once you’ve determined where and what you would like to build, talk to each of your affected neighbors about it before you begin digging. This is especially true if your fence is going to encroach on a neighbor’s view. Sharing your plan to build a fence gives them an opportunity to discuss any potential issues that could cause trouble – or a lawsuit – down the line. You may even discover that your neighbor was considering a fence and might be willing to split the cost with you.

Know which side should face out

If you are installing a privacy fence, they typically have a “finished” side. This is the side that is smooth where the posts and rails do not show. It is common courtesy to face this finished side toward your neighbors and the street. Not only is this the polite thing to do, it also gives the outside of your home a more finished appearance.

Keep the fence maintained

Once you’ve installed the fence, it is crucial that you keep it repaired and maintained if you want to stay friendly with your neighbors. This includes repairing damage, painting as needed and keeping up with mowing and weeding around the fence line. If you don’t, that tired-looking fence could not only affect your property values when it comes time to sell, it could also affect your neighbor’s property values.

If you decide that installing a privacy fence is important – whether it’s to give your dog free reign of the yard or to create a quiet sanctuary garden for yourself – practice good etiquette. By communicating with your neighbors before the installation and keeping your fence maintained, you’ll be much more likely to stay on good terms with the people in your neighborhood.

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