If you live in close proximity to your neighbors, your fences affect them, and their fences affect you. The Fence Authority’s Fence Wars series has been exploring how to make peace when common fence conflicts arise. Part 1 discussed what to do when your yard is surrounded by your neighbors’ fences. Part 2 discusses how to decide who gets the “good side” of your fence if you and your neighbor split the cost.
Most solid panel privacy fences are constructed so that they have an inside an an outside. The outside, as you might imagine, is the finished side of the fence that’s meant to be seen by the world, and it’s therefore often referred to as the “good side.” The inside, on the other hand, has the rails visible. This begs the question of who gets to look at the good side of your fence. It’s standard to install your fence so that the good side is on the outside; otherwise, your fence will look like it’s backwards. But what happens when you’re using a fence to divide your property from your neighbor’s and are splitting the cost? Let’s dig into the proper way to handle this situation.
Look at the zoning codes before proceeding
Which way your fence faces may very well not be up to you at all, eliminating the entire conflict. In some areas, zoning codes may have specifications regarding how you can display your fence. Your neighborhood’s Home Owner’s Association might also have its own requirements, and cities or townships often won’t grant you a permit if your plans go against what the HOA dictates. Checking the zoning requirements in your area may provide a quick answer to your dilemma, even if it’s not the answer you wanted.
Talk it out with your neighbor
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: When there’s a fence conflict, cooperation is the key to finding a solution, provided your neighbor is the agreeable type. Maybe your neighbor just doesn’t care which way the fence faces and is happy to let you make decisions even though they’re paying half! They may also simply not care about getting the good side as much as you do. In fact, maybe your neighbor would be delighted to give you the good side as long as they don’t have to pitch in as much money. Ultimately, talking about it is always the way to go, but you don’t have to talk about who gets the good side, and that brings us to the next point.
Try a double-sided “good neighbor fence”
Not all fences have a “good side.” Some are constructed so that they look finished on both. The woven design of a basketweave privacy fence is not only attractive, but it’s the same on both sides. Privacy fences can also be built so that they are double-sided, with another layer of pickets covering the exposed rails on the inside. These types of fences are often known as “good neighbor fences” because both sides are good, and you and your neighbor will be equally happy to see them from your yards! If you’re using a fence as a divider between your two yards, the more uniform design of a good neighbor fence may make more stylistic sense. This is the solution that lets everyone win!
There is one possible issue: if the good neighbor fence costs more than fence you originally planned on, your neighbor might not be as eager to split the bill, but that’s where compromising comes into play once again. If you feel that you need the good side facing you, but your neighbor won’t budge, paying the extra cost of a good neighbor fence on your own may be your best bet.
Install a fence that unites, not a fence that divides!
If you end up losing the battle not getting the good side, there are ways to cover up the inside of your fence, such as planting shrubs or hedges. But don’t give up until you’ve really talked over your options with your neighbor! We have total faith in your ability to settle this conflict and end up with a fence that makes everyone happy. After all, your fence may divide your properties, but it doesn’t have to divide you and your neighbor!