Exited to begin building your own fence, but not sure where to begin? Planning everything right from the start is crucial to completing a successful DIY fencing project. To reduce the risk of expensive or time-consuming setbacks, read on for our helpful fence-building tips.
1. Make sure your fence is okay with your neighbors—and your town
Always follow proper “fence etiquette”! It is a common courtesy to ask your neighbors’ permission before you begin installing your DIY fence. Make sure that you only build on your legal property unless your neighbors state otherwise. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your project! Who knows—if they’ve been considering a fence too, they may even be willing to chip in financially and turn the fence into a cooperative effort.
Once your neighbors are on board with your fencing plan, it’s time to check in with your town. Find your municipality in the West Chester area using Pennsylvania’s municipal statistics website. By law, you must call to get your public utilities marked before you dig in your yard.
2. Check the fencing code requirements
3. Think about your fence safety concerns
Safety may be one of the main reasons you’re installing a fence—especially if you intend to use the fence as an effective barrier for small children or pets. Make sure your fence actually will do its job and keep them safe. We recommend a max distance between pickets of 4” to prevent small children from escaping the fence boundaries. To prevent small pets like dogs and cats from escaping, consider using double the picket panels.
4. Inspect your yard before you dig
Keep in mind that your fence posts should be a minimum of two feet set into the ground. Before you start digging, make sure you can dig that far into your yard. Check for layers of rocks, roots, or other obstacles such as septic tanks that may prevent you from digging a proper base for your fence.
5. Measure and prepare your yard before fence installation
Mark and measure your fencing perimeter to determine how much fence you will need to purchase. Contact your local utility company to mark underground utilities. Be aware of the terrain covering your property—you don’t want to install a fence only to realize it won’t hold up in an overly rocky or sloped area. Also keep in mind environmental factors, such as sun, rain, and wind.
6. Don’t skimp on the fence gate
The fence gate may seem like an afterthought to the fence as a whole, but keep in mind that it will need to be strong enough to support movement. Check potential gate posts for strength and durability, and make sure they can support the open/close mechanism. Keep in mind that wood gates will get heavier with moisture, so factor this in when deciding on gate post materials before you build.
7. Let wood dry out before painting the new fence
If you are planning to build a DIY wood fence, check with your local manufacturer to determine if the wood has already been dried out. You may need to let the wood “rest” for a period of time before you can paint or stain the fence. Plan on storing your wood outside (covered) or in a dry basement for 3-4 weeks. Humidity in the PA area can be brutal, so use a moisture meter to test the wood in a few spots to be sure. Any reading under 13% should be okay.
Looking for an all-inclusive guide on fence installation. We’ve put together a Free DIY Fencing Guide, covering everything from pre-installation blueprint creation to the actual fence installation itself. It’s tailored for DIYers in the West Chester region because that’s where we install fences, but most of it is applicable everywhere!
Our DIY Fencing Guide includes:
- Fence installation project workbook
- Fence code requirements
- Tool checklist
- Yard preparation blueprints
- Detailed installation walkthrough
- Lots of other helpful tips!
Setting up your new fence couldn’t be easier!
Have any tips to share specific to West Chester homeowners? Share in the comments!