Whether you live in a newly developed neighbourhood where there are no fences in place yet, or your current fence is deteriorating, rusting, or corroding, the time has come to purchase a new fence. The only problem with going ahead and buying a new fence is that it isn’t solely yours. Your neighbour will also be a benefactor of your new fence, and you may be expecting them to contribute to the cost of the fence. Your approach to them should be cordial and respectful. Here are a few things to consider:

Reasons for Replacing Your Fence

A fence is a significant homeowner expense, and a decision to replace your existing one should be considered carefully. Here are a few reasons that would justify the replacement of your existing fence:

  • Inclement weather conditions have destroyed panels of your wooden fence.
  • The fence has been standing for decades and is beginning to show signs of instability and imbalance.
  • It is not a privacy fence, and surrounding neighbours can view right into your backyard (this is extremely pertinent to households with pools).
  • You wish to modernize the aesthetic of your home.
  • You recently discovered that your fence falls outside of your legal property line.
  • You are planning on selling your house and you want to bolster your resale value.

Discuss Your Plans

Remember, you live next door to your neighbour, and you may see this person for the rest of your lives if neither of you decide to move. Although your neighbour may disagree with the style of fence you’re planning to install, getting their opinion and informing them of future construction plans is imperative. It’s important to be clear about property lines (which if not already known, can be discovered by enlisting the services of a provincial land surveyor). If you mistakenly build a fence on your neighbour’s legal property it could be torn down at your cost. The whole process works best if you are transparent about why you’re buying a new fence and disclosing which contractor will be installing it.

Who Should Foot the Bill

The trickiest part about approaching your new neighbour with the idea that you wish to replace an existing fence is discussing payment. Usually if you’re the one that is building a fence and the one overseeing the process you are expected to foot the bill. Many homeowners are on friendly terms with their neighbours, so a discussion about payment may go more smoothly, or an agreement can be reached where one neighbour pays 60% and the other pays 40%. Note that if your neighbour is unwilling to pay for their side of the fence it gives you latitude to make all the stylistic decisions yourself, including fence type, colour and security.

Your fence is a major component to your house for security, aesthetic and legal reasons. If you plan on replacing your fence discuss with your neighbour about the plans you have in mind and future financial decisions.