It can be nice to have a fence on your property for the purpose of privacy. However, as is the case with many building projects, fences on corner lots are often regulated in order to make roads safe to drive on. So can you build a fence on a corner lot?
In most places in the United States, you are allowed to build a fence on a corner lot. However, corner lot fences usually need to be at least ten inches away from the road to make it easier for drivers to see past them. In some parts of the country, you may also need a permit.
If building a fence in your corner lot is something that you want to do, then you’ll probably be happy to hear that it is legal in most places. But like with many building projects, just because it’s technically legal doesn’t mean you don’t need to jump through some hoops to avoid city fines and neighborhood rules.
Know the Law
Before you can even start building a fence in your corner lot, you’ll need to get all of your permits in order. This step is all about figuring out what the local laws are because from city to city, the laws can differ hugely.
While there are a few cities out there in which you can build a fence without needing any kind of permission, in most, you will need to bring your plans to a city official to get them approved so that you can get your necessary. permits.
That brings us back to our first step. Finding the rules for your town shouldn’t be that hard. You’ll want to start by checking on your city’s website, where these things are often easily accessible. However, if the answer is hard to find or unavailable, your next stop should be the city hall.
At the city hall, you can usually either find the regulations written down on some form or talk to somebody who knows about them. Once you’ve got a good handle on what the rules are, you can move to the next step, which will vary depending on your city’s laws.
You’ll also be contacting your local Homeowners Association to see if they have a policy about corner fences. The HOA can fine you if you don’t follow their regulations, so it’s pretty important to follow their rules. Fortunately, the HOA should generally be open to the idea of fencing as long as you stay within the lines. Either way, you may have to do some paperwork before you can actually start your project.
The laws for fences on corner properties are usually a little different than the laws for fences on other properties for a couple of reasons. Obviously, it’s important to avoid impeding drivers by having tall fences right up against the road, and this is mostly the reason for the differences.
That means that in most cities, you’ll need to build your fence a certain number of feet back from the road and it will have to measure shorter than a prescribed height. It’s important to follow these rules not only because you can be fined if you don’t, but also because you will likely be driving past that corner pretty often, meaning that if you obstruct the view of the road from the corner you’re the one who’s the most likely to get in a crash as a result.
Get a Permit
If a permit is required in your town, then this is where you’ll put in the effort to get one. Depending on where you live, you may also need to give the city a sketch of what you want to do. You may also need to pay an application fee.
This permit is important, but in some places, it’s only the first part of getting and keeping the permission to build and keep your fence. There are a lot of towns that will send various inspections to ensure the quality and safety of your fence and to make sure it stands up against the rules.
Because of this, it’s very important that you follow the rules of the city you live in the first time you put your fence up. This will allow you to keep the fence you put up and prevent future problems with permit laws.
Survey the Land
You may have to do this step before you can do step two. Essentially, the purpose of surveying the land is to make sure that you know where your property is and where you can build without infringing on someone else’s space.
You might not need to survey your land as often when you buy a new home. Getting a surveyor to come and draw up a map is important to both your homeowner’s insurance and anyone you’re borrowing money from.
That means that the first thing you should do to figure out what your property is actually shaped like is to look at the papers from back when you first purchased our house. Once this is done, sometimes the city will want to see it before you can start working. The deed to your home might also have the information you’re looking for as well.
If this isn’t an option for you, then you can also try to get a local surveyor to come and help you find out the boundaries for your property. You can even try to find that border yourself with a few tools, like a tape measure and a calculator.
If you have keen eyes, you can use the stake-holes in the ground where the property was originally measured from. From there you just have to mark the space between them.
This being said, you can’t really use a neighbor’s fence or hedge to find your property line. This is because they probably didn’t put their barrier right on the border between your properties, which means that measuring from there could easily end with you getting fined for messing with your neighbor’s property.
Find Out Where It’s Safe to Dig
In most places, it’s against the rules to dig in your yard if you haven’t first had any utilities underground flagged to make sure you don’t hit them. Even if there weren’t rules about this, you would still want to avoid digging if you aren’t sure if you’ll hit something, since the cost of hitting a water pipe or a telephone line can be absolutely devastating.
In order to prevent this, you can call the national digging hotline (811) to get someone to come to look at your home and find where you are allowed to dig.
Avoiding Common Issues
If you’ve done your paperwork and have the city and HOA’s permission to build your fence, your trouble is going to mostly come in the form of either construction problems or problems with building your fence incorrectly.
While you’re building your fence, you need to know how much you’re going to be spending on the materials. However, a corner fence will require more materials and be more expensive than a fence that only covers some of a yard. Because of this, it will be even more important to make sure that you don’t run out of funds during work, especially since if you do, you’ll have to wait until you have the money again, and who knows when that will happen?
You also might find yourself building your fence backward. You might wonder why this would be a problem since fences are still barriers whether they’re inside out or inside in, but the problem with that is that backward fences are actually quite ugly.
Braces are also usually put only on the backside of a fence, which makes the fence much easier to climb from that side. Whether you want to avoid people climbing over your fence or are a fence climbing enthusiast yourself, you’ll probably want to have the more climbable part facing you.
You can also self-sabotage your project if you forget to put in concrete anchors if you live in a place with extreme weather conditions. High winds, snow, or heavy rainfall can all destroy a fence pretty easily if it isn’t anchored in the ground well enough.
You can anchor your fence posts by digging the hole you put them in a little deeper than you usually would, filling it a little bit with gravel or sand, putting the fence in, and filling concrete in around it.
Alternatives to Fences
If you find building a fence to be too much of a pain with all of the permits and digging required, you might want to think of some other way to keep your privacy. Fortunately for you, there are a couple of alternatives that you could use instead of building a fence.
Bamboo can be a good solution to the fencing problem because it grows incredibly quickly and is fairly inexpensive. If you’re letting it grow, you can usually get away with performing only minimal maintenance since it doesn’t need any kind of trimming like a hedge might.
It can also look quite good if your home has the right style. Most smaller homes will look great with bamboo, although they’ll look even better if the bamboo is juxtaposed with other natural elements. Older homes might not see quite as much mileage, however, as it does tend to clash with strongly European styles.
On the other hand, it does need to be contained or else it will spread quickly across your and your neighbor’s yards. This can make bamboo a little more dangerous to use once it’s spread beyond its prepared environment.
If you’re afraid that a cow will cross the road into your front yard, a stone wall will be able to prevent it. Stone walls look fantastic but don’t provide quite as much privacy as a fence would.
Unfortunately, a stone wall will have many of the same problems that a fence will, as you’ll still need to get the right permits, and depending on the topography of your yard, you might end up needing to do even more digging.
Hedges are a classic choice. They come in a pretty good variety with different plants making for unique looks. Plus, they’ll go great with pretty much any building, especially if you use flowering hedge plants. You can even sculpt the hedges into whatever shape you want to.
But therein lies the problem with hedges: They’re difficult and time-consuming to maintain. If you’re willing to trim your hedges frequently for as long as you want to keep them, then your hedges will look great and provide a good amount of privacy. On the other hand, if you take too much time without clipping them they’ll quickly become unkempt.
Hedges are also subject to many of the same rules that fences are, which means that if you’re trying to avoid the hassle of getting permissions and figuring out where to dig, they may not be a good choice.
Making Your Fence Cheaply (But Not Poorly!)
The best way to make your corner fence without sacrificing things like stability or coverage is to use a cheaper material. To that fact, there are a number of options that you can choose to make your fence look good while not burning through your budget.
Corrugated metal is easy to find and easy to install. You may even have some on hand leftover from taking down a barn or shed. If you don’t, it’s cheap enough to purchase at your local home improvement store.
Since paint designed for use over metal is fairly common, you can also paint it any color that you like. This makes it a simple, customizable option for your front yard fence.
Chain link fences may not look great, but per foot, they are incredibly cheap to install. If your neighbors don’t mind or you don’t have neighbors to worry about, this can be a great budget option for fencing, although watch out for kids who can easily climb over the top!
Historically, vinyl fencing has had a reputation for looking fairly cheap. However, modern vinyl fences look great, are cheap, and can’t be damaged by termites! A real triple threat as far as fences go.