A fence can provide your home with many benefits, including increased privacy and keeping animals in or out of your yard. While you may be tempted to contact a fencing company to have them install one as soon as possible (or do it yourself), here are a couple of important things you must do beforehand.
Get the Land Surveyed
Possibly the most important thing you should do before installing a fence is have your land surveyed so you know where the boundaries are. This is to avoid accidentally encroaching on your neighbor's land, which can lead to problems later on.
For instance, if your neighbor learns your fence is one or two feet on his land, he may ask you to move it (at your expense) or sue you for the value of the property lost because of your fence. Alternatively, if you put the fence too far on your side of the property line, you may inadvertently provide a way for your neighbor to take that space via adverse possession laws, especially if the person also builds structures in the same area that intrude on your property.
If your land was surveyed when you purchased or refinanced the property, you can probably rely on the report that was generated at the time. Otherwise, contact a local surveyor to help you determine where your property ends and your neighbor's begin. You can expect to pay $336 to $668 for this service, depending on your property size.
Determine If There's an Easement
Another thing you should do before installing a fence is determine if there is a public or private easement for your property. An easement grants certain parties the right to traverse your property at will. For instance, utility easements are very common and grant utility companies the right to access your property whenever they need to service overhead or underground electric, phone, or water lines.
Putting up a fence that cuts off access to the easement can lead to legal issues. At the very least, you would have to deal with the inconvenience of being there to open the gate whenever someone had to use the easement.
Typically, the existence of an easement would be noted on the deed to your property. However, you can also contact the local utility companies to determine if they have one for your home or check the county land records for easements in your area.
For more information about preparing to install a fence on your property, visit a website like http://www.alcofenceco.com/.