Home builders are extremely busy people who are expected to know about every aspect of a house, inside and out. Their job description contains everything from drawing up plans that meet building code regulations to managing carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, to calculating costs and quantities of building materials.
It’s a tad unrealistic to expect one person to be an expert in so many things. So don’t think we’re ragging on builders for getting some things wrong about fencing. But if you’re involved in a new building project, here are some things to look out for, fence-wise.
- Posts set too shallow – If your fence posts aren’t set deep enough, your poor fence is just waiting to fall over. Windstorm? Frost? Torrential downpour? Goodbye, fence.
- Fence too short – Depending on your circumstances, you might need an eight-foot fence versus a six-footer, or a six-foot fence instead of a little four-foot fence. Remember, fences come in different heights.
- Poor-quality materials – Builders sometimes face the temptation to cut corners. But there’s a direct correlation between material quality and the longevity of your fence.
- Fence too far off the ground
- Sure, you don’t want your fence sitting right on the ground. But there shouldn’t be enough space for your dachshund to get through. And if your Labrador can tunnel under, you’re really in trouble.
- Gate not properly supported
- What’s sadder and tackier than a lopsided gate? This is not a winning first impression when guests come for a visit.
- Incorrect/insufficient gate hardware
- See above. We’re too sad to say more.
- Concrete not properly mixed
- The proper water to concrete ratio is an exact science. Too much water and your cement will crack as water evaporates and your cement shrinks. Not enough water, workers will have a hard time pouring the cement. Either way bodes poorly for your fence posts.
- Not stepping the fence on a grade
- Properly stepping a fence on a graded lot leads to a better looking yard, but it takes extra work and skill. The price of cutting corners is poor aesthetics.
- Misunderstanding “privacy”
- Most of us enjoy our privacy and consider it a right. But don’t be too hasty in erecting a solid privacy fence. There are ways to achieve solitude without ruining you neighbor’s views and turning their sunny patch into a shade garden.
- Posts taller than fence pickets
- This situation gives an off-kilter look as if your posts had a sudden inexplicable growth spurt.
- Using panels instead of individual pickets
- We understand why prefab panels tempt builders. They’re so much easier to install! But the lumber used in prefab fence panels is usually immature and porous, making it susceptible to rot. Nor do the panel manufacturers invest in primo hardware—panels are usually held together with staples or tiny nails. Stick-built fences are more expensive and time-consuming to erect. But if you’ve ever driven by a property and said, “Holy moly, what a beautiful fence!” we’re betting that one was not built from panels.
- Painting instead of staining
- Both paint and stain protect your fence from the elements. But stain better complements a textured or rough-hewn fence style. You’ll usually only need one coat. And stain won’t peel, crack or blister.
- Using inferior/incorrect nails
- All nails rust eventually. But you can extend the life of your nails—and thus your fence—by going with galvanized. The zinc coating will slow down corrosion.
- Placing fence on top of the sprinkler head – Homer Simpson sums this one up. “D’oh!”
Need help getting your fence right? Give your friends at Buzz a call. We love to discuss hardware, stains, post height, and anything else fence-related. And we have never built a fence on top of a sprinkler head.