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When you moved in, you loved the way your open property felt. It made the space seem expansive and a little wild-like a piece of the countryside carved out just for you and yours. But since your neighbor got a dog, your wide open space has begun to feel like a minefield of freshly hollowed holes.

Whether you need to replace a fence that no longer serves your needs or erect a boundary to keep the peace with your neighbors, a residential fence can be an involved project. Before you begin digging post holes, consider the following six factors.

1. Fence Accessories

Some homeowners focus so much the fence itself that they forget to factor in the cost and measurements of fence accessories. These include:

  • Decorative posts or slats
  • Entry and side gates
  • Hardware, like gate hinges and locks Paint or finishing

Get an idea of what your fence will look like as a whole to ensure you don’t overlook any important components.

2. Fence Type

Your fence type depends on your needs, preferred materials, and budget. Here are a few of the main types of fences:

  • Decorative: For garden areas or suburban lawns, decoration may be the primary concern. Common materials include exotic wood, steel, aluminum, and glass. Decorative fences may be more expensive per foot, but also typically surround a smaller space.
  • Perimeter: If you keep livestock or horses (or want to keep out your neighbor’s livestock), a perimeter or farm fence may be the best option. These fences balance practicality and cost. Common types include split rail, ranch rail, and post and dowel fences.
  • Privacy: Traditionally made from wood, PVC, or vinyl, privacy fences keep out prying eyes, create wind blocks, and protect your pets and children. Synthetic plastics can be more expensive and less attractive, but wood privacy fences can accent and complement a home’s exterior.
  • Security: You’re more likely to find a security fence around a business or compound than around a home. Usually made from steel or chain link, these fences are ideal for controlling access to an area. Basic materials aren’t particularly expensive, but adding layers of security can drive up the cost quickly.

3. Hazards

The area for your fence may look level and well-maintained, but you may not know the warning signs of every possible hazard. Since fence posts may need to have up to a third of their height inground, it’s best to find out where you stand in regards to the following hazards:

  • Local Codes: Some areas have regulations on fence specs. Violating these restrictions could mean having to tear down the fence or pay a fine. Check with your local building authority about your area’s regulations on height, setback from roadways, and placement before you begin construction.
  • Underground Utilities: If you hit an underground utility line, the consequences range from an inconvenience to a fullblown health hazard. A ruptured water main, for example, may mostly result in a delay. On the other hand, a broken gas line can cause poisoning and pose a fire hazard. Call Colorado 811 (http://colorado811.org/web/guest/contacts) or a local utility company before you start digging post holes.

4. HOA Regulations

You may like the idea of a 10 foot tall chain-link fence with privacy slats. But, if you’re under the jurisdiction of an HOA, you may find that your options for privacy fencing are limited in terms of materials, colors, and height.

To avoid citation, read your HOA regulations carefully. Then, provide a plan for installation to your HOA representatives. Be as thorough as possible. If you can, include the name of your material supplier, pictures of the area, and any surveying data.

5. Installation

If you’re a savvy DIY-er, you may decide to take on your fencing project yourself with the help of a reliable supplier. If you aren’t sure you can handle the time or labor commitment, get an estimate from a contractor.

If there are several fencing company options in your area, shop around for your best deal. Or, if you aren’t confident in your local market, contact your supplier. Most suppliers can recommend a trustworthy, efficient contractor who’ll get the job done well.

6. Property Boundaries

Many property disputes begin because one neighbor doesn’t go through the proper channels before erecting a structure. If you have any doubt about where your property boundaries lie, call a surveyor. A new property survey increases the budget of your project, but it also ensures you don’t have to tear down your fence later because it strays over the divide between your yard and your neighbors.

One way to have better neighbors is to be a better neighbor. Before you begin installation, let your neighbors to either side know your plans. You don’t have to share your design, but this allows resolution of any boundary issues before the fence goes up.