Thursday, August 15, 2013

Go Ahead, Fence Me In

So it’s been a long week here at the Family Manse, and for reasons I will pass lightly over for the moment I now know exactly how much it costs to put up a fence along one side of my property, what the proper setbacks are here in Our Little Town, and how long you have to wait from the day you make the call to the day they can come and put it in.  It's longer than you'd think.  Apparently lots of people are doing this.

Fences!  They’re the new black!

I’m not used to having a fence of my own.

I grew up on a one-block long street where fenced-in yards were the exception rather than the rule.  There was a mafia of us kids who just ran from one end of the block to the other all day long, paying precious little heed to property lines or grass.  We did our best to go around anything that looked like a flower, which to this day is about as far as my ability to discern the fine gradations of plant life runs (grass/flowers/trees/other), since flowers did not occur naturally in that neighborhood.  Someone had to work on them, and you didn’t have to be on the receiving end of that lecture more than once to know to avoid any plant life that wasn’t pure green.  It was a pretty borderless existence, though.

The house we moved to in junior high, where my parents still live, did have some fencing, but most of it was way up the hill in the back so I didn’t pay it much attention either.  You have to be part billy goat to reach that fence, and the results never seemed to justify the effort as far as I could tell.  There’s not much up there other than a small shed with a missing window.

Since then I have mostly lived in apartments, dorms, and other assorted places where the outdoors really wasn’t mine to worry about.  And when we moved into our current house we found it bordered on two sides by fences, but none of them were technically ours.  And they were see-through – chain link, or rail – so you could ignore them if you wanted to.

The new one will be solid wood.  And it will be mine.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On the one hand, it is a self-evident necessity.  We wouldn’t be spending that kind of money on something that we could live comfortably without.

On the other hand, it is kind of sad that this is so.

Also, now I have to run the gauntlet of contractors, since putting it in myself would just be an invitation to disaster.  I’m okay doing small projects, in an “oh well, I suppose the world won’t end if I don’t do this right” kind of way, but anything that is supposed to last and be sturdy is a project that other people need to do.  What construction experience I have I acquired backstage, so if it has to look good from more than one angle for more than three weekends, I’m better off hiring someone else. 

So far the contractors have been nice, and we picked the one that seemed the most honest about what a nuisance the job would be.  I appreciate honesty.


Gristle McThornbody said...

Oh, David! You're missing out on one of life's greatest adventures by not enlisting the help of your wife and putting up the fence yourselves. /sarcasm

Bill and I put in a 6' privacy fence around our back yard about 10 years ago and I seriously thought we were going to devolve into a pair of snarling, shovel-swinging, screeching, sweaty baboons before we finished. Having to chop our way through roughly 18 cords worth of wood, in the form of tree roots, didn't help the situation at all. We've got lots of huge trees, mostly planted right along the property line. Good times!

Also, I never have gotten him to give me a solid reason why but Bill really fought the idea of a fence, literally for years. I'm thinking maybe his parents had a thing about people fencing in their yards, so he went into the project with less enthusiasm (approaching 3-digit negative numbers on a scale of -100 to 10) than I hoped for. But we were having so much trouble with the neighbors on the one side of us that fencing the yard finally became a necessity.

Did you have to do a drawing with property and set-back measurements to submit to your city zoning office before you could start? I actually kind of enjoyed doing that part of it. Scratch that, it's the only part of it I enjoyed.

You're right – a privacy fence is expensive, but you will love it, trust me. And if I had to do it over again I would definitely hire it done.

David said...

Yes, that would be an adventure, all right... ;)

I have learned over the years that life is better when we either hire people to do projects or do them separately. Also, having a professional install things means that if there are any problems (property lines, etc.) he will redo it and not me. I want this done exactly correct so that there can be no complaints.

I resisted the fence for a while, hoping that things would work out with the neighbors. But it became rather obvious that this was not the case, and so we move on.

We do actually have to submit a permit request with a drawing, but the contractor will handle that as part of the contract. Again, I want it done right and I know enough to know that the odds of that happening go up when someone else handles it.

It's expensive, but that's why you earn the money I suppose.