So, you want to add more privacy to your home, and you’re considering putting up a privacy fence. But you may be wondering “is it rude to put up a privacy fence?”
As a rule, it is not rude to put up a privacy fence, and it is within your rights to do so, and in some instances, it may be required. However, if you’re only motivation to putting up a privacy fence is that you believe in the saying “Good fences make good neighbours,” then think again.
Installing a privacy fence may be a sensitive issue between neighbours. Before proceeding with your plan, you may need to consider the benefits of a privacy fence, situations when it may be a nuisance, how your neighbours may perceive it and how to avoid any misunderstanding with your neighbours.
What Are the Benefits of a Privacy Fence?
Before discussing the instances when a privacy fence may be considered rude, you may first want to consider why you need one and what value will putting up a privacy fence provide to you?
1. Add Privacy to Your Home
This is probably the most obvious benefit, and the first reason most people will consider for putting up a privacy fence.
A privacy fence will provide some extra privacy to your backyard and property. If you like to entertain and host gatherings for family and friends, you can do so without feeling your neighbours are keeping tabs on you and your guests and limit any disturbance to your neighbours.
A privacy fence is also a valuable addition to your home if you have a pool or hot tub. However, while privacy fences can add that extra bit of protection from the prying eyes of the curious neighbours and passers-by standing on ground level, they will not block the view into your backyard from higher levels.
The photos below are of one side of a newly installed privacy fence installed on my property. The photo on the left is taken on ground level. You can appreciate how the privacy fence performs well in blocking the view into my neighbour’s property, and likewise, I expect the fence will block my neighbour’s view into my backyard.
The photo on the right is taken from the second floor window, and as you can see I have a direct view of my neighbour’s entire backyard, and so will he, of my backyard from his second floor window.
2. Add Security to Your Property
Putting up a privacy fence is a simple way to increase the security around your property by adding an extra physical barrier to entry for intruders and wildlife. Not only that, but having a privacy fence, especially if its 6-7 feet in height, can block the view into the property, which would make your house a more difficult target for burglars.
If you like to let your kids, and/or your four-legged friends, to go out to play in your backyard, a privacy fence would provide more protection by ensuring they stay in your backyard and don’t go wandering off. That being said, it is always recommended that children are supervised by a responsible adult during outside play to prevent injury and loss.
BONUS TIP: Did you know that by having a properly installed privacy fence made from sturdy materials, you may be eligible for an insurance discount on your home insurance provided by some insurance providers? Check with your insurance provider for eligibility criteria!
3. Protection From Severe Weather Conditions
In areas that experience windy weather conditions, a privacy fence may offer some degree of protection to your house, windows and delicate garden plants against strong winds and wind-born objects and debris, by providing a physical barrier.
It is however important to note that a privacy fence, which typically has a solid surface, will not allow the wind to pass through. The resistance created to the wind may cause slates to tear from the fence or the fence to break at a weak point.
BOPNUS TIP: If you live in an area that receive frequent very strong winds, you may want to consider a different kind of fence like a chain-link fence, an open slate fence, or a wrought-iron fence as a better alternative. These fences allow the wind to pass through, and are therefore better designed to withstand severe windy conditions.
4. Proper Demarcation of Boundaries
Another obvious, but very important benefit of a privacy fence, is, like other kinds of fences, it will provide clear-cut demarcation of the property boundaries.
This is particularly valuable as you will be comfortable knowing where your property ends and your neighbour’s begins. Knowing this can help prevent any tensions with your neighbours about where you can and cannot plant your shrubs and garden, and where and where not to mow.
5. Reduce Street Noise in Your Backyard
If your house is close to a busy street or highway, chances are you do not enjoy the street noise that can be heard in your backyard or even inside your home. Traffic noise may range between 60-70 decibels.
If you’re wondering if a privacy fence can reduce street noise? Rest assured that a well-constructed privacy fence, constructed to certain specifications, can produce an effective sound barrier that may reduce street noise in your backyard by 6-10 decibels. (Source: ThisOldHouse.com)
6. Block the View of Your Neighbour’s Unsightly Backyard
If your neighbour’s backyard is poorly maintained with overgrowing shrubs, tall grass and maybe flourishing weeds, or if their backyard is always messy with a lot of junk laying around, then you probably won’t enjoy the view!
If you’ve invested a lot of time, money, and effort to create your beautiful backyard oasis, you can reclaim your landscape by installing a privacy fence. A privacy fence will work both ways; provide privacy from curious on-lookers from the outside and also give you a visual barrier to your neighbour’s ugly backyard.
Does a Privacy Fence Increase the Value of Your Home?
Adding a privacy fence can increase the resale value of your home if it meets certain criteria:
- There’s a clear indication for its presence like adding privacy in urban homes.
- It is well-constructed, well-maintained and made of sturdy materials like wood, brick, vinyl, etc.
- Adds to the curb appeal of your property.
- Proper placement respecting property boundaries, local by-laws, and Homeowner Association guidelines if applicable.
When Might Putting up a Privacy Fence Be a Nuisance?
There are certain instances when putting up a privacy fence may be considered rude or a nuisance.
1. The Fence Does Not Serve a Purpose
If you’re considering putting up a privacy fence, and there is no clear and acceptable reason for installing one, like providing safety and secure boundaries for kids and pets, having a pool or hot tub, having reason to believe you’re being watched by a neighbour (to name a few reasons), then putting up a privacy fence cannot be justified and may be considered rude.
That is why carefully considering why you want to put up a privacy fence, and what benefits you will be able to achieve by having one, is the most important first step before starting your new project.
2. Your Neighbor’s Landscape View Is Blocked
Generally speaking, most fencing laws are known to limit the height of artificial fences in residential areas as follows:
|Location of fence:||Height:|
|Front Yard||3-4 feet|
However, different cities, counties, and subdivisions may have their own regulations that govern permissible residential fence heights.
There is a good reason why there are restrictions on fence heights. Fences that are taller that 6-7 feet in the backyard can obstruct the neighbour’s visibility and may prevent the neighbour from enjoying the beautiful landscape from his/her backyard. A high fence can also block sun light and air flow into the neighbour’s backyard, and generally speaking, a fence higher than 6-7 feet would rarely serve a purpose.
A fence higher than 3-4 feet in the front yard or on corner lots can also limit visibility, particularly for traffic and pedestrians, and would be a major safety risk.
If your fence is too high and violates the local fencing regulations, be careful. Your neighbours can complain to the local regulatory authorities, and you may be forced to reduce the fence’s height or totally remove it, or enter into a lengthy and often costly dispute with your neighbours.
3. Your Fence Looks Ugly and Odd
Local fencing regulations have strict rules regarding the design of your fence and the construction material allowed locally for fence construction.
When your fence design and specifications do not follow the local guidelines and, when the fence looks very odd and doesn’t fit well within your neighborhood, this may be considered rude and a violation of your local building guidelines and may subject you to legal problems.
You are generally not legally required to inform your neighbours or get their consent to put up a privacy fence if the fence is constructed entirely on your property (and not on the property line), you’re following all regulations and by-laws and you’re covering the entire cost of the constructions and taking responsibility for maintenance of the fence.
(If you live in the state of California, you may want to review California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law, and ask a lawyer if you are required to provide a 30 days advance written notice to your neighbour)
However, if you have a good neighbourly relationship with your neighbours, they may feel offended and consider it rude, if they wake up one day to find out that you’re putting up a privacy fence without giving them a heads-up and discussing your plans with them.
From your neighbour’s perspective, putting up an unannounced privacy fence may mean that you’re sending them a message that you think they’re nosy neighbours and you don’t want them watching you in your backyard, or that you want to block the view into their unsightly and poorly kept backyard.
5. You Are Encroaching on Your Neighbor’s Property
While putting up a privacy fence, you need to be careful that you are not encroaching on your neighbour’s property. This applies to constructed fences that do not respect property lines and poorly maintained live fences or unkept bushes and trees that overgrow onto the neighbour’s property.
In either situation, this would be considered rude, and could give rise to disputes with your neighbour. If in doubt about the property lines, it is advisable to get a survey of the property to avoid the costly consequences of a neighbourly dispute.
6. Your Privacy Fence Is a Spite Fence
A “spite fence” is a legal term used to describe a fence that is often too tall and/or ugly, and is constructed in such a way to serve no useful purpose except to annoy a neighbour.
In many US states, in the UK and some communities in Canada, there are laws and by-laws that regulate spite fences. As per most of these laws, a spite fence is a considered a nuisance. A person putting up a spite fence may be subject to legal repercussions.
How to Avoid Any Misunderstands With Your Neighbour Regarding Your Privacy Fence?
If you want to maintain a good neighbourly relationship and avoid any misunderstandings with your neighbour, and avoid any legal consequences with regulatory authorities, then follow these simple steps:
- Have a polite conversation with your neighbour before you start the project. Be prepared to explain why you want to put up a privacy fence, and show your neighbour the design, location, and material to be used in the construction. You may even be surprised to find out your neighbour is willing to share in the cost of the adjoining fence!
- Try to make the front finished side of your fence facing your neighbour, and the backside facing towards you. Alternatively, you may choose a fence material that has both sides similarly finished like a vinyl privacy fence.
- Ensure you are aware of all relevant local by-laws and fencing regulations and that you abide by them.
- Ensure your newly constructed fence is within the boundaries of your property or get your neighbour’s consent for installing it on the property line.
- Ensure your new privacy fence does not look ugly and fits within the neighbourhood’s overall design.
In short, putting up a privacy fence is not rude. However, as a sign of good fence etiquette, it is preferrable to talk to your neighbours beforehand about your plans so that they can be well prepared for it.
Your neighbours will always be your neighbours! If you maintain friendly and open communication with your neighbours, then even with a privacy fence up, you may still experience the true meaning of the famous saying “Good fences make good neighbours!“