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I want my fence installation to run smoothly. What preparatory work should I do?

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Question: I want my fence installation to run smoothly. What preparatory work should I do?
Before rushing into fence installation, you need to do a little homework on permits, possible restrictions on erecting a barrier at the proposed site of the installation, and whether or not hiring a surveyor is called for. You also have to find out if utility lines lie underground where you propose to dig....
Answer:

Building codes and local zoning ordinances may restrict your fence installation, both in terms of height and design. I'm rarely unequivocally happy about restrictions, but some of the restrictions in this case are sensible. For instance, fencing on a corner lot should not be so high as to obscure drivers' views at the intersection of the two roads your property abuts -- this would create a safety hazard. I hate to break the bad news to you, but checking on these restrictions may require a jaunt down to city hall.

Here are some other matters to check on prior to fence installation:

  • In some locales, you will need to obtain a building permit prior to the fence installation. How do you find out if you need one where you live? Ask your town's building inspector.

  • Have a surveyor determine precisely where your property boundary lies, unless you're already positive about this. Alternatively, just make sure the fence lies well within the confines of your own property, rather than near the border.

  • You need to determine the location of underground gas, water and power lines, prior to digging. Use the Dig Safe phone number to check. It's free, whereas if you damage a power line while making a fence hole, repairing that damage most certainly will not be free!

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