Understanding Fence Etiquette

If you desire to build a fence around your property, you need to take your neighbors into consideration. There are some elements of fence etiquette that you need to bear in mind.


Make Certain Property Lines are Well Defined


One of the more common disputes that occur between neighbors is over property boundaries. These disputes often center on trees and fences. Thus, there are some things you need to bear in mind when it comes to property lines and installing a fence.


Chief among these considerations is making certain you absolutely know where your property begins and ends. In this regard, it’s a good idea to check out what commonly is called your house’s plat. This is an official drawing that sets out the legal parameters of your property.


If you want to be absolutely certain you know your precise boundaries, you can hire a surveyor to make that determination. If the fence is a joint idea between you and your neighbor, you may be able to split costs associated with a property survey. Otherwise, this is a cost you will need to take on. In the final analysis, better to invest in a survey then end up with a protracted and costly dispute with your neighbor or neighbors later on.


Talk to Your Neighbor


If the fence will be built entirely on your property, and otherwise complies with city ordinances and neighborhood regulations, you technically may not have to talk to your neighbor (or neighbors) about your plans to install a fence. With that said, fence etiquette demands that you talk to your neighbor (or neighbors) about your plans.


In some cases, you may discover that your neighbor has an interest in fence. He or she may want to join you in the project, which can be a cost saving development.


Face the Finished Side of the Fence to Your Neighbor


If you are constructing the fence on your property, and financing it on your own, you are completely in charge of determining whether the finished side faces in or out. Some homeowners automatically assume that the best configuration is to have the finished side facing in.


In fact, your best bet is to have the finished side facing outward, to have the finished side facing your neighbor or neighbors. Depending on the way your fence is situated, you improve curb appeal by having the finished side facing out. (You will also keep peace with your neighbors.)


There are fences that have two “good” or finished sides. Depending on your specific needs, goals, and objectives, this is the ideal fence design to select.


Maintain the Fence


When you install a fence, you will have taken a step that significantly improves the appearance of your residence. Once your fence is up, that is when the long term work begins.


You need to undertake proper maintenance of your fence to keep it in the most functional and attractive condition. If you have a wood fence, this includes apply a proper sealant to it to prolong its useful life.


You will want to coordinate fence maintenance with your neighbor, even if the fence is within your property. This is necessary because you likely will need to access your neighbor’s property in order to undertake maintenance.


If you intend to stain a wood fence, even one completely on your side of the property line, you will want to talk to your neighbor or neighbors about what color you intend to use for the stain. Although you have the legal right to make this decision on your own, etiquette suggests discussing this with your neighbor.




Jessica Kane is a writer for Viking Fence, the number on fence rental company in Houston.

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