Three Things To Do Before Buying A Fence

Buying a fence for your home is a major investment. However, most people who haven't been through the process think that the first step is to get a few quotes from local contractors. In reality, there are a number of of steps that a wise homeowner takes first--some of which can shed light on your individual needs and make your purchase a whole lot easier. These steps are not difficult, and they don't require any specialized knowledge or skills. Anyone can follow these steps, and if you do, you'll be glad you did when you make your purchase.

Step 1--Make Some Phone Calls

The first thing you'll need to know is what laws govern your decision to have a fence built on your property. In some areas, these ordinances aren't much of an issue. In others, such as Chicago, you'll be required to get a permit for any fence of 5 feet or more. While these permits aren't particularly expensive, this could have an impact on your decision between a four-foot picket fence and a six-foot privacy fence. 

There are other governing bodies that might have a say in your fence decision as well. These include the following:

  • Historical preservation societies
  • Homeowner's associations
  • Neighbors with fences you intend to utilize

Making some calls to these organizations before you settle on a fence choice is important. You'll have a much clearer idea of your options, and you'll fully understand the cost and legal impact of building your fence. While there's usually no issue at all, it's better to find out if a problem exists before you break ground on the project. You might also gain insight on whether flammable or non-flammable materials are best suited for your area and legal landscape.

Step 2--Purchase a Survey

A survey will indicate exactly where your property line exists. While a survey was likely performed when you purchased your home, these documents are often misplaced over time. Furthermore, there's no guarantee that the previous homeowner followed their survey's guidelines when working with their property. Gardens, sheds, and trees often lie directly on property lines, which can cause problems for people looking to fence in their yard.

If you already have a survey that's up to date, you can check the accuracy of the survey yourself. Doing so will take you a bit of time and some light effort. However, you'll have peace of mind when it comes time to map out your fence with a contractor. You'll also know the exact length of fence that your project requires, leading to more accurate quotes.

Step 3--Locate Your Utility Lines

Most of the time, there's no issue with the digging that goes along with installing a fence. That said, on the off chance that your builder disrupts a sewer line or other utility, your project will get a lot more expensive--the average cost of repairing a sewer main is almost $2,500. Furthermore, the damage done can often disrupt your neighbor's utility service as well. 

Reputable builders will likely insist that you call the service that will mark underground utilities for you. It's a good idea to do so yourself though, and before you get too deep into the buying process. You might be able to change the configuration of your fence to avoid any issues during installation, which is preferable to doing so while the builders are on-site.

That's all there is to it. These three steps will likely take you a few days, and they might seem like an unnecessary inconvenience at times. You don't want to take a risk with a major home improvement project, though. Take your time, follow these steps, and your buying process will be smooth and pleasant. For additional reading on fencing, contact a professional in the area.