Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


“Good fences make good neighbors”…  but it’s not always as simple as that.  


If you get it wrong you just might have an unhappy neighbor and strained relationships.  If you get it right you’ve added value and functionality besides.


A recent call to the Town Hall confirmed that while permits are not required for the installation of fences here in New Canaan there are definite planning and zoning guidelines to follow regarding height restrictions, set backs, safety factors and aesthetics.  While the professional fence companies make it their business to follow the rules there are many instances where existing fences don’t comply and buyers tend to notice.


Usually it’s the neighbor’s fence they are concerned about… generally from an aesthetic point of view… and the last thing these buyers want is to move in and not get along with the neighbors.


So… it’s good to know at the outset, some of the concerns the buyers have with fences.


  • The finished side should correctly face out… toward the neighbor, toward the street.   The good news is there are what are referred to as “good neighbor fences” with two finished sides which can be installed at a cost that is about 15% higher… these are aesthetically pleasing from any angle.
  • The fence is leaning or in bad repair.  It is the responsibility of the fence owner to maintain the fence on both sides, not just his own… unless an agreement is otherwise made.  Still, if the fence isn’t maintained, for whatever reason, it could be an impediment to a smooth transaction.
  • The boundaries must be known, and the fence installed within the property line.  It must not encroach at any point on the neighboring property.  A survey should be used and fence companies generally leave a margin for error to avoid problems.
  • The fence should not be used to hide unsightly debris while leaving it exposed to neighbor’s view, whether it is within the property line or not.


If the fence has not yet been built it is always a good idea to let the neighbors know beforehand.  (It is not necessary to show them fence designs or invite their input.)


If there is a fence that already exists and any of the factors above might impede a sale it would be helpful to address these concerns sooner rather than later.  Even if it costs you a bit now it could save you in the end.  But if you’ve already got a good neighbor… you’ll work it out.  If you don’t… you’ll probably be glad you’re moving.