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Good Neighbours Make Good Fences!

Posted July 24th, 2011 under renovations and repairs.

In a bygone era, builders used to put up fences (usually chain link) to show home owners the dimensions of their properties. People would add hedges of varying kinds to create privacy, and these often took several years to grow.

Today's need for instant privacy, partly caused by postage-stamp-sized lots, has led to people erecting wooden privacy fences at the maximum allowed height.

Here are a few ways to build a wooden privacy fence. One fast and economical method is to purchase a steel post holder for each post. These are 3-foot-long metal stakes with a 6-inch cup at the top to hold the wooden post. You hammer one into the ground wherever you want to place a post, usually 8–10″ apart.

Plumbing the post (making sure it stands perfectly vertical) is easily done by inserting wedges. My own fence has been in place for almost twenty years, and when it started to lean it was easy to re-align.

Another way to install a wooden fence is to pour a concrete footing into the ground for each post and set the post directly in the concrete. I have also installed fences of this type, and when the fence started to lean because of age, cracked concrete, or rotting post bottoms, there was no way to straighten it. New posts had to be installed.

(Of course, if strength is required, for example if you have a wide gate (often with 6×6″ posts instead of 4×4″ posts), then concrete footings are a must.)

Another concern is sagging (not to be confused with leaning), when the fence boards hang low between posts.

To prevent sagging, make sure your horizontal two-by-fours are laying on-edge, not flat. They provide much more vertical strength this way.

If the distance between posts is more than eight feet, it's best to use a triangular brace at the midpoint to brace up the horizontal. If you don't like the appearance of the brace, consider spacing your posts more closely instead.

One other consideration is the height of the fence, which is limited by the zoning bylaws of each community. In Brampton, the maximum height is 2m (6′6″) at the rear and sides, up to the front of your house. From the front of the house to your front lot line the maximum is 1m (3′3″).

Your front lot line is usually not the curb, but is instead an imaginary line located 33″ from the center of the road (this is called the road allowance).

Always check your survey before building, because the city will ask you to remove any fence that violates the zoning bylaws!

Good luck, and remember, good neighbours make good fences!

Want to know more about outdoor renovations and repairs? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.


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