Mar 07 , 2019

Learn How to Construct a Custom Fence and How to Build a Gate

How to Build a Fence Overview: Project scope, design and key tools

Good fences may make good neighbors, but an ugly, flimsy or poorly built one won’t make anyone happy. This fence, on the other hand, is durable, handsome and sure to please everyone. Rules in most regions require that the best sides face out (toward the neighbors), but our fence is designed to look good from both sides. Here are 10 other modern fence ideas you can thing about.

We used treated 4x4s for long-lasting posts and “sandwich” construction for the panels for strength and easier assembly. This fence isn’t cheap compared with the cost of a fence built from preassembled panels from a home center. But this fence has thicker, higher quality wood, more detail and better fasteners than any store-bought selection. And we designed it so anyone who can handle a circular saw and level can build it.

We’ll show you how to build a wooden gate, line up and set posts, build sturdy panels and construct elegant, no-sag gates that are wide enough for a lawn tractor to pass through. We’ll also share tips on achieving solid footings, secure connection and fastening methods and staining that’ll ensure trouble-free decades of service. This project doesn’t require a pickup load of expensive tools either. Aside from the standard posthole digging implements and basic carpentry tools, you’ll only need a circular saw, a screw gun and a 4-ft. level. But to really speed up assembly, get a 15-gauge trim nailer with 1-1/2-in. galvanized nails to nail on the pickets and panel boards. The nails hold everything together until you permanently screw the upper and bottom rail pieces together. A table saw also comes in handy for ripping panel boards to width where needed.

Fence Design Approval and Property Lines:

Start with city hall. Most likely you’ll need to apply for a fence permit from the local building inspections department, so begin by picking up the application along with the local fence regulations. The regulations will include setback requirements from your property lines to the fence and maximum allowable heights. These details will likely vary for front and backyard fences and can even be different for houses on corners or adjacent to busy streets, so study them carefully. You’ll probably be required to submit a fence plan with the completed application. The plan should be a dimensioned overview of your property that clearly shows your property lines along with your proposed fence outline and its heights and distances from the property lines. Any other details that are required will be covered in the regulations or permit application.

If you live in a “planned” community or subdivision, you may also have to submit the same information to a planning committee for approval. The committee’s regulations can be even more rigorous than the city’s and may govern materials choices, colors and even the final design. Ignore regulations at your own peril. Build a fence without either planning committee or city approval and you risk having to tear it down and rebuild it.

Mark Property Lines

Privacy fence figure a

Start by finding and marking your property stakes. One will be found at each corner and anywhere your property makes a jog. You can either find the stakes on your own or hire a surveyor. It’s not hard to find and mark them yourself by renting a metal detector and scanning the areas where you think they are. If the detector indicates one, dig down to make sure it’s a steel stake instead of some other buried metallic object. A good tip is to go to city hall and ask for a copy of the “Certificate of Survey.” It will show the exact stake locations.

While you’re waiting for the permit, call to have underground utility lines marked. (The building department will have one number for you to call to have all lines marked.) Everyone but the cable company marked their lines for us, and guess what? Shortly after starting the postholes, there was no more History Channel for a while.

Learn other fence tips for your project.

Note: You can download Figure A and enlarge it in Additional Information below.

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