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When we first toured our house, the yard was a big selling point for us. Our house is located in the city of Chicago and outdoor space really comes at a premium around here. When house hunting, we were expecting to have a small patch of grass between the house and the garage. So when we saw our house and the half lot of grass connected to it, we were sooooo excited! It was far more space than we were expecting to get in our price range in the city and was one of the main selling points for us.
While we’ve worked a bit on the outdoors this summer (staining the deck, power washing, changing out the garage door locks, upgrading the garage flooring), there was one BIG thing that we really wanted to do before winter came – replace the fence.
Three Different Fencing Materials
That’s the best word I can use to describe the fencing “situation” at our house…a big fat eyesore. For some reason, we had three different fence materials on our property.
We had chain link (that was legit falling down); we had wood (that was rotting); and we had aluminum (by far the best of the bunch, but still not great). Our goal was to unify the fences on our property to one fencing material, to choose a low-maintenance replacement, and to gain more privacy in our large yard. Oh, and to get this all done before winter! Before I could figure out the exact fence for us, I had some research to do.
How to Figure Out Which Fence is Yours
When sharing our fencing experience on Instagram stories, a question I got over and over was “How do you know if the fence is yours?” In general, you can take a look at the fence posts to answer this question. On one side of our property, the posts were facing our neighbor’s house, therefore we were confident it was their fence, not ours.
On the other side, the posts faced our property. This was our fence!
This is a good general rule to figure out the property lines. However, before you do anything, I would take a look at the surveyor plat for your home. You’ll likely receive this at your house closing (we did). It’s an officially drawn map of the property that clearly defines the property lines. The plat of survey is suuuuuper important before you start taking fences down and putting new ones up.
Also, make sure you get a permit for your new fence! I was able to easily file one online and paid $225 for it (the amount depends on the total area of fencing). When an inspector came to do our final inspection on the interior of the house, I also had him take a look at the fence and he signed off on that permit too! It was pretty painless and way easier than getting in trouble with the city…
Who Pays for the Fence?
While a lot of people asked about property lines, even more asked about paying for the fence! Everyone wanted the scoop. Since the one chain link was technically our neighbor’s, we could have asked them to split the cost with us for a new one. Because we wanted to get this project moving and because I wanted to dictate the style of the fence, we decided from the start that we would pay for it ourselves.
So. instead of asking our neighbors for money, I had a conversation with them about removing the chain link and replacing it with a brand new one. They were definitely on board with that plan (I mean, who doesn’t want a new pretty fence that you don’t have to pay for?!). Regarding the neighbors on the other side, I simply told them about our plan and made sure they knew the date for installation. They, too, were super excited about the idea!
My biggest advice to you is to have an open and honest conversation with your neighbors. If you can get them to split the cost with you, that’s amazing, but just know that you may have to shell out all the cash if you really want to get it done your way.
Choosing a White Vinyl Fence
I did a lot of research before it came time to pick out our new fence. In the end, going with a white vinyl fence was an easy choice for me! After staining our deck, there was no way I was going to stain a fence every few years and work to maintain the wood. White vinyl fencing comes with virtually no maintenance. You can hose it down or give it a good scrub with soap and water if you want! My plan will be to power wash it in the spring (on the light setting) so we can start fresh after winter!
I ended up choosing this six-foot white vinyl fence from Freedom Outdoor Living. It’s their Emblem style with a decorative top and bottom rail. I love the sleek and contemporary look, yet it’s super classic. I’m confident this simple design will never go out of style.
White was also an easy choice. We have some white accents on the house and I really just wanted to brighten up our entire home (plus, the blogger in me is secretly super excited about having an all-white backdrop for photos!).
Installing Our White Vinyl Fence
I got the white vinyl fence from Freedom Outdoor Living, but then I had to figure out who was going to install it for us. I got lots of estimates and ended up going with Cover Fence, here in Chicago, because they were super familiar with installing vinyl fencing.
This fence is also sold at Lowe’s if you want to go with them for both the product and the installation.
Cover Fence took down our old fence, disposed of the materials, and put our new fence up all in one day! I creepily watched them working, from the window inside the house, checking out their progress all day long.
It was an amazing feeling to watch that old janky fence come down!
Three guys worked all day long, and in the end, I was left with a brand new backyard!
Our Backyard – Before & After
The before and after pics really sum up the crazy transformation that happened here (and you get a sneak peek of our new front door color, coming to the blog soon!).
We Have a Brand New Yard
It seriously feels like we have a brand new yard. Our neighbors are all super friendly, but it kinda felt like we all shared one big yard when we were out there. Now, we have so much more privacy and I don’t have to stare at my neighbor’s backyards.
I’m really happy we went with the six-foot fence. Even though it’s tall, it gives us the privacy that we were craving in our city house!
We ended up going with a gate out to the alley and another one to the front of our house. We chose black hardware for a nice contrast with the bright white.
Freedom Outdoor Living has lots of options for the post tops. I decided to go with their contemporary post for a classic look.
Another good thing about this white vinyl fence from Freedom Outdoor Living is the fact that it can be installed on uneven terrain. Our yard was fairly level, but in the back by the alley, the yard was quite a bit lower than the asphalt. Our installers just made the fence as level as possible, instead of following the grass line. I wanted the top of the fence to be level, because we can then work on our grass and landscaping to cover any gaps below. But really, that was the only area in the yard with any noticeable gaps.
I was worried that the fence would make the yard feel small, but I think it does the opposite! Our yard feels huge and it finally feels like it’s all ours! Instead of everyone being able to see in, we have our own private little oasis.
To be honest, I think we’re just about done with our outdoor projects for the year. Those cold temps are fast approaching and we want to really invest in our outdoor space next spring/summer. Finn wanted to lay some sod near the garage (where we ripped out some rotting planter boxes), but we haven’t gotten around to it just yet and it feels like we’re running out of time. For now, we’ll just have our mud pit out there. Ha!
Next year, we have big plans to focus on landscaping. Right now, we have absolutely nothing in the backyard. I’d love to get some trees, bushes, and flowers around here! The front needs some TLC too and I know we’ll eventually get there.
For now, I’m just relieved to have our eyesore of a fence outta here. Our new one is absolutely stunning and it’s the perfect kicking off point for an exterior overhaul in 2020.Casey