Here's How: A Panel Fence for More Privacy Is Easy To Build
Dear James: A house is being built on a vacant lot next to my sloping lot, and I need some privacy. I think a fence might work well. What type of fence do you recommend that I can build myself? -- Sara Z.
Dear Sara: Installing a fence can be an excellent way to provide privacy for your home. It can also be a deterrent to burglars if it is high and secure enough to make passage over or through it difficult.
The first step in installing a fence or structure near your property line is to check the local codes for your area. There often are limits to the height and distance it must be set back from the property line. These limits may change depending upon whether the fence extends past the front edge of your home.
It is often said that good fences make good neighbors. It might be a good idea to meet your future neighbors and tell them you are planning to install a fence. They may have had a fence in their plans, or their house plans may provide adequate privacy without a fence.
If you do decide to go ahead with adding a privacy fence, a panel or a picket fence is a good choice for the typical do-it-yourselfer. There are several simple designs of these fences, and they all require 4 by 4 pressure-treated posts for supports. You will most likely need a helper to handle and set these heavy posts.
Your basic design options are a solid panel fence, a vertical picket fence with the pickets close together and a shadowbox (picket alternate on both sides) fence. The picket style fence is the least expensive to build because it requires less material than a panel or shadowbox fence.
If the fence will face the northern side of your house, the panel fence will also function as an effective windbreak during the winter. If it will be on the south or east side of your house, you may prefer the picket or shadowbox fence so some of the summer breezes will come through.
Lay out the location of your privacy fence. This is done by driving a nail into the end of two stakes. Drive the stakes into the ground at either end of the fence. Stretch a string between the two stakes to create the fence line.
A sloping lot makes the fence-building task a bit more tricky. The nicest looking design -- but the most difficult to build -- uses top and bottom rails, which follow the slope of the ground. A step design uses horizontal top and bottom rails between the posts. This design is your best choice.
The severity of the slope along the fence line will determine the post spacing. If it has a large slope, place the posts closer together so each step is smaller. Putting the posts on 8-foot centers may not look good and will leave tall gaps under one end of the bottom rail.
Dig postholes at least twice the size of the post. Position the posts so one side just touches the stretched string to insure they are aligned. Pour concrete in the hole around the posts, use a level to make them vertical and use temporary 2 by 4 bracing to support them. Screw premade panels to the posts.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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