Can You Build a Fence Next to Your Neighbor’s?


Building a fence can be a tough project as is, even more so when you decide you want to put one up right next to your neighbor. So is it possible to build a fence on any side of your property when your neighbor already has one there?

In short, it is possible to build a fence next to your neighbor’s. This requires more preparation and communication than it would normally take in other circumstances. Just keep in mind that it’s good to share any information about this project with your neighbors before you start.

Now it’s not uncommon for fence wars to occur between people and their neighbors, especially when one or both parties insist on being disagreeable. But it’s important to take into consideration the necessary steps for putting up a fence on a side of your property where a neighbor already has one on theirs. Below are laid out steps and guides for how to build a fence next to your neighbors.

Permits And Regulations

Now depending on where you live, the permits you might need for building a fence by your neighbor’s might vary. But no matter where you live, there will be required permits that you will need to make sure to get. Make sure that you have the proper permission from your city before you begin carrying out this project.

Another thing this project will call for is some sort of written consent from your neighbor, or neighbors, that you will be building your fence by. Depending on the situation of the project, you might even need to split the cost with them.

Zoning regulations tend to be different everywhere, such as how high you are allowed to build your fence (6 feet is the typical height). Calling your building department to find out what your county’s fencing regulations are is a sure way to get definite information.

Property Lines

It’s a rather common misconception that a fence is the boundary line to a property but it is not. The general rule is that fences should be built about 1 to 2 feet inside your property line. So if you’re working on building a fence right by your neighbor’s, keep in mind that there should probably be a good few feet of space in-between.

You can find your property lines by either going to your county recorder’s office or possibly by accessing the information online (a city database would be a good place to start). If your property is on platted land (a plot of land that has been subdivided into smaller lots of 5 acres or less), you can likely find your property lines from an online plat map.

Another way to find your property lines is by trying to locate the metal stakes that mark the line of your property in the ground, perhaps with a metal detector or with the help of some sort of fence contractor. Not all properties use this method since using metal stakes is a process that has only begun rather recently. Wooden stakes were used before that.

Precautions

Because this project impacts more than just you, it’s important to take extra precautions to make sure you are accommodating to any neighbors around you.

When you are digging your fence holes by an already existing neighbor’s fence, be careful not to damage their fence. If their posts aren’t secured with cement, you run the risk of damaging them if you dig too close and this can impact the future integrity and strength of the fence. If their posts are secured with concrete, still use caution while you dig so as not to damage any of your tools or their already set concrete.

If both your neighbor’s fence and the fence you’re building will cause a lot of shade in the area between them, it can cause a lot of moisture to remain back there. Say either of you has a wood fence there, if the posts and planks aren’t made of pressure-treated wood, that moisture can become a problem for the fence over time.

Also, since you’ll probably have at least a small gap between your fence and your neighbor’s, be sure to work out with them who will take care of weeding, mowing, etc. to keep your fence properly maintained.

Connecting Fences

Remember when earlier I said you might even need to split the cost of building your fence with your neighbor depending on the building situation? That will most commonly pertain to a situation like this.

A few years ago my parents wanted to have a fenced-in yard because our family had just gotten a dog and we wanted her to have a safe place to roam and run. The neighbor right behind us already had her yard fenced in. I remember my parents having a long talk with her to make sure she would be okay if we got the same type of fence as hers and attached it to some of her posts in the back. We had no problems and it was a great example to me of effective communication between neighbors.

Connecting fences with neighbors isn’t an uncommon occurrence but it can bring about some extra problems if not dealt with well. You have to make sure to agree with your neighbor first before you use their fence for anything and take care of any extra permits and paperwork. This last part is necessary because if you don’t, and you or your neighbor have to move at some point, it can cause some extra problems for the listing agent, the buyer’s agent, and even for the closing of the home.

Be Patient And Courteous

It can be easy for neighbors to cause contention with one another over their fences and boundary lines. So do your best to keep yours in the loop. Be as gracious and open as possible with your neighbors to help ease any tension and keep them in mind throughout this project.

As Robert Frost once said, “good fences make good neighbors.”

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