Are Privacy Fences RUDE? Here’s the Deal


How many of you have ever heard a story about neighbors causing contention with one another over their fences? I know I certainly have. And if neighbors can cause enough conflict with normal fences, then are privacy fences just rude?

It is not rude to have a privacy fence. While some of your neighbors might disagree depending on who they are, you are well within your rights to have one put up for your own reasons. Just remember to be open and courteous with your neighbors and let them know of your plans.

There are some additional things to know when it comes to putting up a privacy fence. More than just conversing with your neighbors, there are things such as permits and costs to take into account. Below I’ve laid out information concerning all the necessary things to know if you’re planning on putting up a privacy fence.

What Is A Privacy Fence?

So to start off, what actually is a privacy fence?

A privacy fence is a fence that is designed to conceal your yard from neighbors and the random passerby. It can be a good backdrop for your yard landscape and even offer a sense of additional security as well. These fences won’t have any open spaces or distanced slats, which means no wrought iron or normal chain link fences.

It is possible to add privacy slats to chain link fences to turn them into a privacy fence. Typically privacy fences are made out of wood or vinyl. A masonry fence (such as brick, concrete, etc.) is also an option but that will take up a lot more time, effort, money, and not be as easy to put together. Overall, a wood or vinyl fence is your best choice when it comes to building privacy fences.

On average, a privacy fence must be between 4 and 8 feet to be considered one. The requirements might vary a little bit depending on where you live. If you are building a privacy fence to contain a dog, this is really important to think about, as the type of dog you have and how high they can jump might indicate the height that is needed for the fence.

Laws And Permits

First off, if you are renting a property and want to put up a privacy fence, this is something you must discuss with your landlord before going any further. Keep in mind that your landlord may or may not split the cost of building the fence with you – that is their choice and they can tell you that you must pay the entire thing. You are the tenant so your landlord gets to decide.

The laws concerning privacy fences, or if you can even have them, may vary depending on your area. Be sure to get in contact with some sort of building inspector or fence contractor to go through what you’re allowed to do, whether you are putting up the fence on your own or not.

It might be a good idea to find a fence viewer to help direct you with your project. A fence viewer is defined as “a local official who administers the fence laws (as by inspection of new fence…).” They can also act as a peacemaker between you and your neighbor if needs be. Fence viewers typically only view along the East Coast but see if you might be able to find one near you to assist with the start of your project. Source

Another thing you will need to do is determine your property lines with professional help. While you probably can find your property lines on some sort of city database, it would be easier to have someone qualified come do it. This can help prevent any unnecessary problems between you and your neighbors by getting this done and letting them know in case a surveyor has to come onto their yard as part of the building process.

If you live in an area with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), be sure to check their guidelines before you start building your privacy fence. The HOA can have strict outlines about the size, height, and style of your fence. Looking at those will help give you an idea about what you need to do to stay within those rules.

Check to see if your area calls for any building permits and, if so, acquire them from a local building inspector. Just make sure you get all the proper permits before you begin digging.

Speaking of digging, another thing you should be sure to do is to call your local utility company to make sure that you won’t hit any utility lines while you are putting up your fence. They will come to spray paint the ground where you have electrical, water, and internet lines to watch out for when digging. They will usually do this at no cost but it does depend on where you live.

All of these requirements will just make it easier to understand what you can and can’t do when it comes to building your privacy fence.

Cost

Of course, it’s always cheaper to put up a fence if you do it yourself, but that won’t always be the case for everyone. The cost of your privacy fence will mainly depend on the area you wish to cover, the material you make the fence with, and if you hire someone to do it or not.

The average estimate of a privacy fence as of 2021 is anywhere between $1500 and $5500. Let’s break it down and look at how much it is on average for both wood and vinyl fences.

Wood: As of 2021, the average cost of a wood privacy fence is $2800 with a range of about $1700 and $4000. Of course, length, wood material, and wood treatment will play a part in the total. According to HomeAdvisor, the typical cost of a wood privacy fence will be between $27 and $60 per linear foot, with the materials themselves costing about $7 to $15 per linear foot. Source

Vinyl: As of 2021, the cost of a vinyl privacy fence ranges from about $2200 and $5400. The typical cost for this type of fence specifically has an average of $20 to $30 per foot. Source

Neighbor Etiquitte

Whether your neighbors think a privacy fence is rude or not is completely up to them and not something you can control. So if you are planning on putting up a privacy fence, just be open to discussing the project with them and let them know that you are open to hearing any concerns or problems they might have.

If you’d like, even let them go over the fence plans with you and your builder so they know you want to keep relations peaceful, and putting the fence up isn’t an act directly against them. It’s simply common courtesy to keep them in the loop with a project like this.

And if your neighbors are just being rude right away, even before you were considering putting a fence up, just remember that you’ll still be neighbors, fence or no fence.

Another thing you can discuss with your neighbor when informing them of your privacy fence plans is if both of you would like to split the cost of building the fence. If you can work something out and both agree to the type of fence and terms of the agreement, make sure to sign some sort of written agreement or contract to hold both parties to it.

This will make sure you all are on the same page and prevent any problems down the road if you or your neighbor ever have to move.

Traditional fence etiquette states that the front side of your fence (the side that looks nicer) should face your neighbor or whatever is on the other side of your yard, and the backside should face the fence owner’s property. If you don’t necessarily want the “uglier” side on your side, you can ask your fence builder/ contractor about a double-sided fence.

A double-sided fence, sometimes called “good neighbor fences,” are fences created with a certain type of “sandwich” construction that allows both sides to have a nice, finished look.

As long as you let your neighbors know of your intentions, stay within your property lines (1-2 feet is the normal amount), and take care of the required laws and permits, you’ve done your part, and whether they accept that or not is up to them.

Is It Worth It?

Putting up a privacy fence is a big decision that impacts you and even your neighbors. Still, it is your property so you are entitled to do with it what you will. As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbors!

Privacy fences are a great way to create your own space in your yard and keep away any unwanted prying eyes. They are also a great way to up the value of your home too if you ever find yourself looking to move.

What your neighbors might consider rude might not appear that way to you. So while you can take their input into account, you are allowed to do whatever makes you comfortable; and if that’s putting up a privacy fence for the sake of security, privacy, or anything else, then please know that’s okay.

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