Building a new residential or commercial fence is a task that must be completed properly and with precision, and in Kelly Grant’s opinion is one of the most important proactive actions a homeowner or commercial owner can take to firmly establish, exercise, and protect their property rights. Here are some of the key advantages with proper fencing:
(a). A deterrent to criminal intruders (becomes more difficult for adult or youth trespassers to enter and exit a property unnoticed to commit theft, vandalism, arson, and / or violence). If a rural property, electric ‘shock’ fencing with visible warning signage can enhance security.
(b). A deterrent to animals and wildlife (caution: for those living in mountainous regions, note that bears and cougars, etc. are still usually able to scale and jump tall fences).
(c). Families can protect their small children and / or animals from wandering away.
(d). Increases privacy from unwanted visits or conversations from nosy neighbours and passers-by. Quoting Robert Frost’s famous proverb: “Good fences make good neighbours.”
(e). Gives properties a ‘clean, tidy, and organized look’ and establishes clear boundaries for maintenance with neighbours (i.e. lawn mowing, weeding, tree pruning, planting, etc.)
(f). If selling in the future, most Buyers will greatly prefer fences and can be a deal-breaker for some Buyers if a home does not have a fence. The reason: unlike a current homeowner who knows neighbours well, unfamiliar Buyers are very uncertain as to how well neighbours might be to cooperate with to (i). agree on a style and (ii). share the cost for a new fence.
Next, below are Kelly Grant’s top 10 important factors to address when building new fences:
(1). It is critically important to consult the municipality or county to determine applicable regulations for fencing (i.e. what is allowed and what is not allowed, permits required, etc.)
(2). It is critically important to review any restrictive covenants on title (and discuss with your lawyer) to determine restrictions for fencing (i.e. what is allowed and what is not allowed). Some upscale neighbourhoods will restrict the colour of fencing; the type of fencing; etc. including keeping sight lines unobstructed for neighbours to view natural habitats, etc.
(3). It is critically important to hire a surveyor to know exactly where the property line is, and if selling in the future and the new fencing is in a different layout, it is recommended for homeowners to secure a new Real Property Report and Compliance.
(4). It is critically important to hire a qualified and experienced fencing contractor to provide you a full quotation of removal and haul away existing fence; any excavation / compacting; scheduling; securing relevant permits; and supply, delivery, and installation.
(5). Part of the scope may include hiring structural and geotechnical engineers to design concrete retaining walls; slope stability; fence foundations; soil grading / compaction; etc. plus for rural properties, hiring electrical contractors for any electric ‘shock’ security fencing and hiring security contractors for any video surveillance; motion detectors; lighting; etc.
(6). If buying a new home, consider the merits of negotiating the deal to have the builder complete all fences and gates, to be constrained by scheduling items including completion of sidewalks; final grading certificates; and any exterior work that requires special access.
(7). Select the quality and appearance of the fence: the colour(s), the type of materials and trim (e.g. wood, vinyl, concrete, chain-link, etc.), the size of fence panels, the size and type of gate(s), the distances between fence posts, and any foundations required. For colours it is suggested to select natural earthy tones that are likely to appeal to a majority of future Buyers. Also determine the amount of privacy desired with fencing height and see-through spaces. Note many municipalities will restrict the maximum height of fencing permitted.
(8). For building fences in and around retaining walls, building a fence on top of a retaining wall can be a very good idea but only if your fence contractor (and structural engineer if there is a concern that the retaining wall can support the fence) recommends it and the retaining wall is along the property line. If the fence is built directly in front of the retaining wall, then without ‘special removable access panels’ it would be impossible to access this wall (without removing the fence) in the event of future repairs needed to fix cracking, etc.
(9). Consult neighbour(s) to determine who is paying for installing the fence and at what proportions (i.e. if the cost is shared 50/50 then the fence should be right on the property line, or if you alone are paying then it should be inside the property line on your property). Note in cases where one neighbour has expensive tastes and insists on better quality fencing than the other neighbour wants, the ‘decider’ usually will pay a higher proportion. For any dispute or argument on fencing, it is recommended to consult a lawyer for advice.
(10). In the cases of condominiums, in addition to municipal requirements, condo boards will also prohibit and / or allow fencing within very strict guidelines. It is critically important for condo owners to obtain advance approval from condo boards by submitting fence plans; outlining specifications to be used; contractors selected; and contractor WCB / insurance letters in accordance with the condo bylaws, rules, and regulations before any installation.
In summation: for most cases, level of Buyer interest and hence the difference in sale price (i.e. having a nice fence vs. no fence) is either higher or much higher than the cost of the fence and so it is usually recommended to build a fence rather than sell without fencing. By addressing the above points, it will help make your fencing project positive and rewarding.
[Article is ©2020 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng., REALTOR® at MaxWell POLARIS in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada]
Disclaimer: for readers not represented by a REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you will be selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100; text to 780-717-9290; or email SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.