Fences have the potential to bring neighbors together or drive them apart. They can be a functional and beautifying addition to both lots that serve as a natural place for impromptu neighborly chats, or they can be contentious and divisive barriers that shut neighbors out or run afoul of rules, regulations or personal preferences. Thankfully, if with proper consideration, adding a fence to your home can be a fruitful undertaking that satisfies all parties. Here are some tips on how to add a fence to your property in the good neighbor way.
Play by the rules
It may be your property, but that doesn’t mean you can build whatever fence you want on it. State and local regulations as well as homeowner association rules and restrictive covenants may impose limitations on your options. Everything from the height of your fence to who’s required to pay for it to whether or not it can be built at all could hinge on such rules. Applicable government regulations can be found by performing an online search for “fence permit” along with your city, county and/or state or using statelocalgov.net to look up your state and local governments’ contact info to inquire about requirements.
Be careful where you build
It’s important to consider whose property you build your fence on. Generally, it’s simplest to construct your own fence entirely on your land. With permission, you can build a fence on your neighbor’s land (or vice versa), but the responsibility for the fence usually ultimately passes to the property’s owner, which can cause complications down the road. If you want to build a fence exactly on the lot line, it will require your neighbor’s consent. Regardless of your plans, the safest course of action is usually to have a surveyor mark out the property line and then obtaining your neighbor’s consent in writing and having both parties sign the contact with the fence builder.
Know who’s responsible for repairs
Who is ultimately responsible for maintaining a fence can be a complicated issue. Expenses for fences on lot lines are usually shared between neighbors, and some states and HOAs enforce hefty penalties against those who don’t pay their fair share. Fences that are entirely within one person’s property are usually that person’s responsibility, although neighbors can still agree to share costs out of good will. Be sure you know who is on the hook for paying what so there are no unpleasant surprises or disputes in the future.
Be a thoughtful neighbor
Just because you’re allowed to do something without your neighbor’s input doesn’t mean you should. Informing your neighbor about any planned addition, alteration, repair or removal of a fence and receiving their input and approval beforehand is almost always for the best. This shows concern toward their interests – ranging from aesthetics to property values to pet containment – and usually motivates them to show the same consideration in return.