Fence Replacement Etiquette: Dealing with Neighbors

Dealing With Neighbors: Fence Replacement Etiquette

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to replace your backyard fence, talking to your neighbors can be the most dreaded part of the process– especially if you’ve never met your neighbors! Typically though, if you’ve noticed that the fence needs to be replaced, chances are your neighbors have noticed and thought about replacing it as well. Communication with your neighbors is key, and we can help you with this conversation. Having been in the fence business for many years, we have dealt with pretty much every neighbor situation imaginable. We’ve even had neighbors call the police! Following our fence replacement etiquette tips can help prevent flaring tempers and unnecessary tension between neighbors.

Prepare For the Conversation: What You Will Need To Know 

  • Who Owns the Existing Fence? In many situations, a neighbor will feel a sense of ownership over the existing fence, either because they paid for it, feel that it is on their property, or simply because they’ve been there longer than you. The best place to start is finding out who legally owns the fence. Looking at your property lines on your land plat survey

    Property Survey

    (this should be found in your closing paperwork from when you purchased the house) will help you determine whose property the existing fence is located on. If it is on your property, you own the fence! Knowing this ahead of time will help in the event that your neighbors are difficult to deal with and refuse to work with you. If the existing fence is on the neighbor’s property, you can not remove it without their approval. You can however, build a fence on your property right behind it if your neighbors are not on board with replacing the fence.

  • What are the City & HOA Requirements? Do your research and find out what your city and HOA will allow, before you decide on a fence style. Our estimators at A Better Fence Company are familiar with city zoning ordinances and can answer some of these questions for you.
  • What Style of Fence Will You Be Installing? Decide what type of fence you want, and get a few quotes. Find a fence company that you are comfortable working with, and check out their reputation online (find out how to find the right fence company here).
  • Who Will Pay For the New Fence? Will you be paying for the entire cost of the new fence, or do you expect your neighbors to share the cost? Sharing the cost of the fence only seems fair since you will be sharing the fence, and many neighbors are more than willing to contribute, but they are also likely going to want a lot of input on the project. Depending on your situation with your neighbors and their finances, paying for the new fence yourself may be the most hassle-free way to get your new fence, and there are other advantages which will be discussed later in this article.

Having the Conversation

When approaching your neighbors about replacing the fence, their immediate concern is going to be the cost. Let them know from the beginning if you plan to pay for it yourself or if you want to share the cost. Even if you plan to cover the cost yourself, your neighbors will probably still have other concerns about the project.

Discussing the Cost: When discussing the cost of the new fence, your neighbor may say something like “I have a cousin who will do it for cheap.” While that may be true, getting your neighbor’s friend or family involved is the last thing you want to do. There’s no quicker way to ruin a relationship than mixing business and family, especially if your neighbor’s cousin ends up doing a terrible job. Instead, explain to your neighbor why it is so important to choose a reputable fence company. Show them the companies you are interested in, and the online research that you have done on these companies.

Discussing the Fence Style & Position: Typically, wood fences are installed with the posts inside the yard and the pickets facing out. However the person who is paying for the majority of the fence will have the final say about the positioning and style of the fence. If you are paying for the fence, make sure that it is installed completely on your property line, or you will have no claim to it. Our estimators can help you determine where the lines are, and ensure that the fence is installed on your property. You will also want to discuss staining options with your neighbor. If your neighbor is paying for a portion of the fence, you will want to decide on a stain color together. If they don’t want to stain their side, ask for their reasoning. Leaving their side unstained will leave your fence unprotected. If cost is the reason, you might offer to cover the cost for them in order to protect your investment. If they just prefer the look of natural cedar, we offer a clear stain which will protect the fence but still have the natural cedar appearance. Our wood fences are also available with prestained pickets, and if you choose this option, you will not need to discuss stain colors.

Important Things to Remember:

  • The person whose property the fence is on, owns the fence. You can not take down someone else’s fence, but you can install a fence directly behind it on your property
  • Communicate with your neighbor throughout the process. You will need their cooperation, especially if they have dogs
  • Be sensitive to your neighbors feelings, even if you are paying for the entire new fence
  • Always get a permit. If you choose A Better Fence Company, we take care of this for you. Having a permit prior to construction will protect you legally from unreasonable neighbors
  • If you are paying for the fence, make sure that it is installed completely on your property line, or you will have no claim to it!

When you follow local zoning regulations, make respectful choices, and maintain communication with your neighbors, you’ll be able to install a new fence and stay on good terms with them.


Call A Better Fence Company Now To Schedule Your Free Wood Fence Replacement Estimate! (940)220-9099

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