A blueprint for fences

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

A BLUEPRINT FOR FENCES

The first step to building a fence is talk to the neighbors. "So often, people build without consulting and put the fence on the wrong side of the property line," says Dave Keim, chief of code enforcement for Los Angeles. "Economically, it's a good idea, because sometimes the neighbor will help pay for it."

Hire a licensed surveyor to define the property line. One can be found in the Yellow Pages.

Consider materials, scale and transparency. Concrete looks foreboding but muffles noise. Tall fences are private but can feel claustrophobic. Wood is warm but doesn't deflect sound. Metal can be intricate and beautiful, but doesn't block visual blights.

With any fence there is a frame side, otherwise known as the ugly side, and a facing side, usually perceived as the nicer side. With a "good neighbor fence" -- what professionals call an alternating panel fence -- the framing side switches every 4 feet, so that no one is stuck with the bad side. Check with the zoning department. Ordinances about height depend on the zone and lot.

-- Thea Klapwald, Los Angeles Times

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