Monday, July 29, 2013

Tips for Building a Fence

DIY Wood Fence
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Yes, it seems that DIY around our house(s) is one thing that is constant.....and right now Mr.Chaos and I like it. We enjoy improving our homes with simple DIY projects that we can do for a fraction of the price of hiring the jobs out.
When our house was built we were in the fist phase of the subdivision so there were empty lots all around and finally over the course of time we are now surrounded by neighbors.
Some of the neighbors have fences and some don't, but we are lucky to have two neighbors who do have fences so we only had to fence one full side, and a partial side that I am going to show you today.
The long side of the back yard was fenced several years ago right after Mr.Chaos moved in. Now that we have a dog, we  decided to fence off a small section that was open so that we have three complete sides fenced.
The estimates we received for someone to build this small section of fence was roughly $900 bucks!!! That is outrageous considering 5-8 years ago we had one whole side of the yard fenced for that price!
So what is a thrifty chick and her man to do????
That's it themselves!!!
There are several tutorials out there with varied techniques for building fences, but this is how we did it for $350 bucks, versus the $900 we were quoted!
Start by  having Dig Rite (land surveyor people) come out and mark off the utilities BEFORE you dig!!!! 
You don't want to hit a water line or electrical line, nor do you want to build on your neighbor's start off by having the utilities and property lines marked by a professional company.
You can see in the picture below the red, yellow, and white spray paint lines where they marked off our utilities.
Once you know where your utilities and property lines are,
you need to
MEASURE  the length of your space and MARK where you want your posts.
We used cedar posts
and dug a hole a foot deep and used Quikcrete to secure the posts into the ground.
TIP: If your ground is too hard to dig with a shovel, you can always rent an auger like this to dig the hole (need large one for digging post holes):
Tree planting augers, heavy duty earth augers are designed for heavy duty half inch drills
Once the holes are dug and posts are set, you can add support shims like we did to keep the posts from leaning while the concrete dries.
Let the posts dry for a day or two. We waited three days because of our time line and work schedules, but I think 24-48 hours would be plenty.
Now, once your posts are dry you are ready to secure your cross beams to the posts.
We used 2x4x10 boards for our cross beams and simply screwed them into the posts with our cordless drill.
You can get fancier and attach brackets to the posts to hold the cross beams, but we were on a budget and kept it simple by simply screwing in the cross beams directly on to the posts.
Use a LEVEL to ensure your cross beams are level....esp if you are going over a hill like we did and need to slope your beams.
TIP: Keep in mind that if you are going up or down a hill and have to angle your beams, you may  need to add a few extra inches to the length of your beams so accommodate for the slant.
Don't just assume the same length from post to post is the same length you need to get for the cross beams.
You need a few inches longer if you are going up or down a hill.
Once the beams are up you can start attaching your pickets.
We chose a simple dog ear style of picket because that is what our neighbors have and that is what we used on our other fence and we felt that it looks better if the pickets are all the same style.
Determine your placement of the pickets....we wanted ours to show four and a half inches of dog ear above the support beam. (see picture above)
Now screw or nail on the pickets.
(we prefer that they are screwed so they don't pop off or warp over time)
The best method we found for adding the pickets is for three people to work together.
One holds the picket and a spacer board to ensure the picket is spaced properly from the last picket, another person holds the tape measure to ensure the picket is the right height as the previous one, and the one person drills the picket into the beam.
TIP: By using a spacer board, you can ensure that there is equal distance between each picket.  
Our spacer was 2 inches wide, but the distance between each picket is up to you.
We used 100 pickets in all and with the three of us working together it only took about 2 hours to add all of the pickets to the fence.
You can buy sections of fence that already have the pickets attached so you just screw on a section at a time, but we chose to attach them ourselves, one by one.

You can also stain your fence but we opted out on that since the rest of our fence was not stained, however, I wanted to add a clear coat stain to prolong the life of the fence, but we'll see if I can convince Mr. Chaos to stain it :) 
And here is the final project-


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Yay! Our new fence is so pretty and I love how that part of the yard is now sectioned off so the dog can not get out!

All in all this project took a couple days to complete only because we had to let the concrete dry for the posts, and we did it for about $350 bucks!!!! 
Very much within our "under $500" budget, which makes DIY so much more enjoyable when it does not break the bank!!! :)
And ladies, if you can operate a drill, you can do this!!! 
I helped with this fence project and learned
that it is a very do-able project.
In fact, after this I have thought about adding a fence to our other house too......if we end up renting it out.
(did I say that out loud? lets hope Mr.Chaos is not reading this) LOL
Have a wonderful week!
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