Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Do you need to put some privacy between you and the neighbours? Here’s how to go about drawing the line (litreally).
In order to put up a fence, one must determine the border shared by the two neighbouring properties. After that, you have several options regarding materials and height to choose the perfect fence for your needs.
There are many benefits to putting up a fence between neighbours. But how to go about it? Our guide will help you to get started.
Once you are done, your fence will give you more privacy and also keep your pets and children in the garden. But before you start, a surveyor must identify the border you share with a neighbour. When the border is identified, you must also make sure that the neighbours are fine with the fence and know your rights when they are not. If all goes well, you can erect a fence that has the distance and design you need.
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The good news is that you do not have to wonder about it. A surveyor will be able to tell you where your border is. The bad news is that the information and service of the surveyor naturally come with a fee. However, this is not a step that you can skip. Should you overshoot the border and the neighbours are not happy about it, you could face a lawsuit and the extra costs of removing or moving the fence.
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If there is an existing fence or your neighbour put it up, then yes, you need to have a conversation with them. If they put it up, the fence is technically their property. Should there be no fence, the chances are that a neighbour will not complain - most people love the idea of having a more private garden.
But should a neighbour resist the idea, there is not much they can do if you erect the fence on your garden (not on the border or on their garden). Keep it a few centimetres inside your property and it should be legally fine. However, play it safe and talk to your local authorities to make sure that you can put up a fence without a neighbour’s permission. You never know, some strange by-law might just forbid it!
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The truth is that putting up a fence is expensive - especially when you are looking to erect a quality structure. Who must carry the costs of the border that is technically shared by two households?
You must find out what your local laws have to say about this. Financial responsibility for a fence can differ based on the town, city, or other regions that you live in. But overall, since you are the one who wanted a fence, most of the time you will be expected to foot the entire bill of installing a new barrier.
However, should your local laws state that your neighbours must also share in the costs, you might want to rethink that? To reiterate; putting up a fence is expensive. Do you honestly think your relationship with your neighbours will survive if you give them a big, unexpected expense that they did not plan for or wanted?
For this reason, it is overall more gracious to pay for the fence yourself regardless of what the local laws dictate. You can, however, talk to your neighbour beforehand and ask if they want to share costs if you know that they also want a fence but cannot really shell out the full price. In that case, neighbours actually help each other to erect a border at a lower price.
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Do you love plants? Do you want to avoid asking anyone’s permission to put up a barrier between the two properties? Then a hedge might be the answer.
A hedge is basically just a row of plants that grow tall and thick enough to create a natural fence between two gardens. There are several species that are perfect for this but the best part is that you do not need your neighbour’s permission to start planting a hedge - nor that of the authorities. Technically, you are just planting stuff in your garden.
But keep the hedge on your side of the shared border. It might cause a dispute if it runs along the shared border or leans over into your neighbour’s garden. We have all had that neighbour who hated our tree’s branches hanging over the wall. So make sure that your hedge is safely within your property.
Once again, the local laws might have different views on this matter. But overall, you can expect one of two things. More often than not, the person who paid for the fence to be erected in the first place is responsible for its upkeep. But in some areas, there is a rather unusual view that you are responsible for only your side. The neighbours are responsible for the other side’s upkeep.
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Let’s fast forward a couple of months after the fence is installed. You notice that the barrier is too short for your liking and would prefer to add some height. Do you need to talk to anyone before you do that? And can you add more height to a fence that was there before you or your neighbours moved in?
Once again, check in with your local laws to see what they say about this. But in some places, there is a possibility that you must get permission from the authorities if you want the fence to be higher than two meters. You also need permission if you want to add some kind of deterrent (like spikes or thorns) along the top of the fence.
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