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Dear PoP – Friday Question of the Day – Cost of Fences?

Backyard Fence, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

A little over two years ago I asked if good fences make good neighbors? This week a reader wrote:

“Dear PoP,

When some of our friends heard we were putting up a fence, they asked us whether we had asked our neighbors to “chip” in for it, since, in theory, they would benefit from the addition. This hadn’t occurred to us at all, but our friends told us that it was what people did when they put up fences….Well, we ended up dancing around the subject with one of the neighbors before giving up, and with the other one, we didn’t even bother. So what are your thoughts on this? Should neighbors offer to pitch in for their neighbor’s fences when they benefit from it? Should neighbors expect to be asked to chip in? Also, with something like a privacy (wooden) fence, are you supposed to put the “nice” side out, or in?”

It’s an interesting question. My neighbors, with whom I have a very good relationship, are currently putting up a fence. As for whether I would chip in the answer is – absolutely not. Quality privacy fences are rather expensive. While I will ostensibly benefit from the fence, I didn’t ask for it. Because I have a good relationship with my neighbors, if they asked me to chip in, I’m sure we would have had a very civil conversation about it. In this case they did not ask me. Do you guys think the neighbors should chip in?

As for where does the good side go? I’d say, since I’m (the neighbor) is not paying for it, the “nice” side should go wherever the one paying for it wants it.

Like I said, I have a great relationship with my neighbors. Not only are they super nice, but they have shoveled my walk, mowed my yard, brought in my garbage cans… I swear I’m not that lazy! One of my finest memories was when another neighbor and I were sitting on the porch and this neighbor said, “hey would you guys like a glass of whiskey?”. She then brought us out two glasses of whiskey and went back inside. Truly a beautiful neighbor. I preface this because I’d like to revisit the message that a privacy fence sends. In this case my neighbors have two dogs and it’s clearly not an insult to me or the neighbor on the other side. But in general, I’m curious what you think the message of a privacy fence sends, if it’s not just facing the alley but in between homes as well?

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