Hidey-Ho Neighbour

Since we moved into our house, almost 8 years ago, we have had a very open backyard. Although it is a nice large space, privacy is something we have lacked due to short 3′ high fences. Anytime we did want something close to privacy in the yard, we had to retreat to the top grassed area that makes up about a quarter of the backyard space. Thanks to some tall hedges and our shop, it is private on 2 sides. We added some lattice on the 3rd side, but it only offers so much privacy and could still be seen through.

The good news is that we have great neighbours who are easy to get along with, so it makes the lack of privacy much easier to handle. Although we are on display when landscaping the backyard, at least there is generally some friendly “hellos” or conversation to be had. Our landscaping vision has always had more privacy in the plans, whether it be with plants or a new fence. Our opportunity came a knocking last year when our neighbours to the right decided to replace all their fences. To be fair, we had patched the fence between our yards a few times and it was getting to the point that the patches weren’t holding the fence in place any longer. Due to some other big projects last year, we were only able to do the one fence with the neighbours.

Once it was done, we immediately knew that the back fence and left fence were going to get pushed up our priority list. Just the one fence had changed the look of the yard so much, that we began to dream of what the rest of the yard would look and feel like with that same fence wrapping it in a protective barrier. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones looking at that fence and dreaming.

Our backyard neighbour, who was new to the neighbourhood, also saw the potential of that fence. The fence that we shared had been a behemoth eyesore when he had moved in as the previous owner had put up plywood and netting due to the frequent hockey pucks that seemed to fly into our yard and hit our house and shed all the time. We knew we would like our new neighbour the day we came home and he had taken the horrible eyesore down and had tidied up the fence so that it was once again something decent to look at. Due to some renovations he had to do upon moving in, he also wasn’t ready to do the fence last year, but had started a conversation with us about getting it done this year.

So we planned. Early this spring, I did some measurements and determined how long each fence was going to be. From there, I determined what materials we would need and how much of each items would be required. I then called around to a few home supply stores to get pricing on all the materials to determine not only what our overall cost was going to be, but also where we would get the supplies from. It was a bit of a shock as the cost of lumber has more than doubled since we did the fence last year. Our left fence, which is equivalent size to the right side fence that we did last year, was going to cost us more than double what the fence last year cost us. That’s quite the mark-up in such a short time!

After dreaming of the privacy all winter, we were set on doing it, as was our backyard neighbour. So, we made plans, got the supplies delivered and got to it. Unfortunately, our left side neighbours were “on the fence” (see what I did there?) about replacing the fence, so we will be covering the costs of that one completely on our own, but it is worth it for the privacy that it affords us. As we had planned for that possible outcome, it was something we were able to manage.

Our original plan was to take a week off at the end of April to build both fences. Instead, over the last two weekends, we have completed both and now have a week off at the end of April to camp and get the garden sorted. We planned to work with our backyard neighbour on the weekend of April 9 – 11 to get the back fence done, and then I wrangled some family to assist with the larger side fence on the weekend of April 16-18.

On April 9, I finished work around 3 pm and headed outside to see that our backyard neighbour had already managed to get most of the old fence down with the help of his two young boys. We immediately got to digging and got a few post holes dug before Kurt got home at 4:20 pm. With the 3 of us working away, we got all 10 posts dug and cemented by 7:30 pm. Kurt had to work on April 10 (Saturday) so I met with our neighbour in the morning and by the time Kurt got home from work, the fence was complete, leaving us with Sunday to relax and enjoy. It was awesome and easy working with our backyard neighbour, and now we joke that it is like Wilson from Home Improvement, we only see the top of his head and he now regularly welcomes us with a “Hidey-Ho Neighbour!”.

On April 16, Kurt got off work early and managed to have almost the whole 103′ fence taken down by the time I got home at 3 pm. I helped him out with the last few panels and then got to digging our post holes. Originally, we had planned to start pulling the fence down at 4:30 pm, when we both got home from work, but because we were both able to get off work early, we were well ahead of schedule. I was determined to get at least a few of the posts cemented in so that we could work on some of the panels on Saturday while we waited for the cement on the remaining panels to dry. Kurt and I called digging quits with only 6 post holes to go, so that we could quickly get some of the already dug posts cemented in. We managed 5 posts before our bodies were protesting that we had done enough for the day.

On April 17, Kurts dad and my parents were on hand to help me as Kurt had to work. My plan had been to get the last posts cemented in and get a start on the 4 panels that had the posts already cemented. Once again, the people helping us got us so much further ahead. We got all the posts cemented, and because of the 5 that were already cemented in, we were able to frame all of the panels before Kurt got home. I hadn’t planned on framing the ones with the fresh cement, but the mixture that we did was nice and solid, so we were able to get at least the bottom and top frames in, putting us ahead for our Sunday plans.

On April 18, we had a bit larger of a crew. Kurts dad, my parents, my sister and nephew were all on hand to help out. We wanted to keep our crew to people within our COVID bubble as we were needing to work closely with each other. We split into a few teams, and started tackling the assembly of the panels. It was a great setup and we quickly found our rhythm. Kurts dad was running the saw for my parents, and my nephew and sister helped Kurt and I on our panels. It streamlined everything and saved precious time with not having to run back and forth to the saw. In about 8.5 hours, our team had put together a 103′ fence that had odd-angled-cuts due to being on a slope. Every single board had to be measured and cut as nothing was consistently the same size.

It is better than we could have hoped for. Better than I had pictured in my head. The yard, surprisingly, actually looks bigger with the new fence, and we feel like we are finally no longer on display in the yard. Although, we do have a sloped yard, so when walking to the bottom, along our path, our backyard neighbour still has a good view and vice-versa, but it is a huge improvement from what it all was.

I’ll share the design and planning in our next post, in case you like the fence and are interested to know our process.

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