So torn about fence...

burntplants(8/9TX)April 23, 2013

OK, I'm asking for advice from fellow Texans, cause fence manners are different from state to state.

Here's the story:
-The neighbor two doors down is a general contractor, and is replacing his fence, using his favorite fence guys.
-My next door neighbor wants the fence on both sides to match, so they are replacing the fence between their side yard and my driveway.
-Then they tell me: "We're replacing the fence, your half of the bill for this stretch of fence will be about $800-$1000."
- I say, "I don't have any money right now, but the posts are fine and I'll pay for half the new pickets and help you put them up."
-Next door neighbor says "No, we need to completely re-do the fence because our two gates in the side yard are leaning slightly. So get us the money when you can."

Here's where I'm torn: I don't want to be a jerk, but I really don't have the money. Also, they didn't get competitive quotes, and my parents got an almost identical fence three years ago for $800 TOTAL.
I can get them a couple hundred--should I do that and consider us even?
Should I ask for an itemized receipt?
Try to get them $800 in bits and pieces when I can?
What should I do?

Thanks guys.
Good fences make good neighbors, but fence disputes can cause wars, so I need advice here.

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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Unless you and your neighbor have conferred and mutually agree that you will share the cost of a new fence you are not responsible for the cost of any part of the fence whatsoever. That's always been the custom around here. Family members and ourselves have always born the full cost of a fence when it was our idea. I'm sure you get some more detailed answer on this.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 5:19PM
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I just put up quite a bit of expensive privacy fencing at my new-to-me house which replaced chain link. I did not expect that my neighbors would pay anything towards MY desire to have a nicer fence. Now, I did strongly consider putting out some lawn couches and guinea hens and praying that the neighbors would spring for privacy fence.... but I digress... I wasn't able to do my entire lawn as I would have liked to as my lawn is very deep. One of my neighbors has offered to split the cost w me to go between his back yard and my side yard. I am going to take him up on it very soon.

I am a born and bred Texan and LOVE the idea of privacy fences (where I lived up north there was not so much fence love), but i would never even begin to expect someone else to pay for the one that I wanted.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Lin barkingdogwoods

When I lived in Euless, one of my neighbors replaced his fence - I offered to split the cost of our shared portion, but he declined as he said it was his desire to replace his fence.

When I replaced my fence, I didn't ask my neighbor on the other side to pitch in - the fence was still upright but I was concerned that it might not safely contain my dogs. Since I wanted it replaced, I paid for it.

IMO for someone to approach you and tell you what your portion of the bill is, is very bad form. I'd tell them that they could skip doing that side as it's not in your budget for the year.

Sorry that your neighbor is trying to get you to pay for what they want done.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:57PM
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Inquiring minds might be interested in knowing just how old the fence is. Are the posts out of plumb? Usually, they are replaced with everything else. What, exactly, are the differences in "style" between the old and new fences? Are they really demanding you help fund the expense of a change in design, nothing more?

It is a custom of long standing for neighbors to share the costs of replacing mutually beneficial fences, after due deliberation and exploration of options.

You should be able to calculate the cost of materials by a visit to Home Depot. If the fence is in fact due for replacement, you can always offer to provide the labor, if the neighbor will supply the materials. This is a common way of sharing the burden.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:04PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Of course, if the fence is rotten or falling down I'd feel some obligation to pay for part of it if I wanted a fence. I know of yards that have no back fences. And if I were paying for part it would seem only right to have some input on the details. I agree it's a difficult situation, but one just does what they can to remain on good terms with their neighbors. Maybe work out a payment plan that's comfortable for you.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:35PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

From my understanding, the fence legally belongs to one property as it's typically NOT placed directly on the property line. Therefore, the cost of replacing the fence belongs to the owner of that property, and that person decides the fence style, along with any HOA/city codes. It would be worth a call to a friend/acquaintance that's a lawyer or realtor to find out what you're legally required to do. The rest is sticky. You don't want to piss them off, but, it is truly tacky of them to make the decision and ask you for money.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:39PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Way back in the 80's my DH decided to replace the wood fence on one side. It was there when we built our house. He installed new posts. As the concrete had to dry he had to leave the fence until the next day. Our next door neighbor came "stomping" to our back yard door wanting to know why we had taken her fence down! My DH finally got it through to her that the fence would go back up the next day. She did not offer a dime nor any help. DH did not expect her to do so.

Right now the fence on one side of my house is in terrible shape. It was here when I bought the house in 2007. I do not feel it is my responsibility. The neighbor is the original owner of his house. He also has to have the oldest gas mower and it sounds terrible. I am surprised each time it gets the job done. I am assuming he does not fix or repair until absolutely necessary. Should he ask me to help replace it I will if I can. BUT, I would be very ticked off I he told me to do so.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:46PM
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OK, to answer some questions:
-The pickets are starting to rot--I offered to split the cost & labor to replace those, but was rejected.
-As far as the posts and framing are concerned, my 250lb father climbed up on each section of the fence and jumped up and down like a gorilla. It didn't budge and he declared it "sturdy." (My father is a madman, but that's a different topic.)
-We live in a suburban neighborhood with an HOA, and the fence IS on the property line. It's not actually enclosing any portion of my yard, but half of it belongs to me.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:06PM
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Lynn Marie

My opinion is that since the fence is sturdy and you are happy with it, they shouldn't even be thinking about changing it without your consent. I feel that they are being rude not only by expecting you to pay for the fence, but also by making the decision to change the fence without asking your approval. What if you think the new fence is ugly? Or doesn't match your other side? Now does the whole entire street have to get a new fence?

Well, you asked for our opinion!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:27PM
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The regs enforced by my HOA require that privacy fences be maintained in good condition. They can even hire a contractor to come in and replace the fence, and send you the bill.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:47PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

If you don't have input then you aren't obligated to pay. If the fence is on the shared property line, they can't just do the work and send you a bill. Start documenting your conversations and check the location of the existing fence.

In our case we shared cost with one neighbor and not the other but both were worked out ahead of time by agreement.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 11:24AM
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How old did you say that fence is?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:04PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I totally agree with input, no obligation to pay. This should have been handled so differently.......just common courtesy demands that all those involved should be contacted in advance and given the opportunity to partiicipate or decline.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:50PM
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gslenore(8 McKinney/DFW)

How we have always handled: If the fence is on the property line, the homeowners share the expense (provided they've come to an agreement on costs, timing, materials, etc.). If on one property or another, that homeowner pays.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:01PM
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We live on a corner lot, so share fence with two neighbors. The fence was fine, in no danger of falling down or anything like that. However, one of the neighbors has money to burn and got it in her head that she wanted the fence replaced, got estimates, and informed us that our share was $1,200. The other neighbor agreed to it. This was at the same time our third child was entering college (out of state private school) with the older two still in college, so we absolutely did not have money for that. I informed the neighbors, who got miffed but did the fence anyway.

After two years, the new fence looks virtually the same as our parts of the fence that are not shared and were not replaced! Silly waste of money IMO, and presumptuous to assume that other people will also want to spend money when it isn't necessary.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 1:55PM
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Anyone else see that? Kinda fuzzy, hard to make out. Reading between the lines it almost looks like--could it be? The Other Side of the Story.

The astute will have noticed that trying to get all the relevant facts on the table here has been rather like pulling teeth.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 3:21PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Posted by whitecap (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 15:21

Anyone else see that? Kinda fuzzy, hard to make out. Reading between the lines it almost looks like--could it be? The Other Side of the Story.

The astute will have noticed that trying to get all the relevant facts on the table here has been rather like pulling teeth.

Whitecap, you must be an HOA officer :-) You do realize that Texanjana is not the OP, right?

This post was edited by pkponder on Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 16:18

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Whitecap, even if the fence was falling down, shouldn't everyone have been in on the decision making? As I mentioned I just started my journey into "let me privacy fence an acre of land", and I upgraded to a taller fence, cedar, and metal posts and upgraded hardware and all that stuff - but if I had been sharing the cost with a neighbor, I would think that the neighbor would have some say.

And as someone who is literally writing a check to a fence company tomorrow, I wouldn't expect my neighbors to chip in on replacing the perfectly fine 15 year old chain link that is here now - I want a nicer fence and I want all mine to match, so I get to buy a fence.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 5:25PM
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I was addressing burntplants and, yes, I suspect that had this neighbor made a peremptory demand to fund replacement of a sound fence for no other reason than the design no longer suited his good pleasure, burntplants would not have come here seeking advice. Burntplants would have known exactly what to do.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Well, glitter, if the fence has deteriorated, that should have been disclosed at the outset, and since it wasn't, one is left to guess what else may not have been disclosed.

I could not have made clearer that fence replacement is properly a function of discussion between neighbors.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:51PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

What difference does the condition of the fence make whitecap?

The question is can the neighbor simply replace the fence and send a bill without prior agreement or any effort to control costs. Answer: No they cannot.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Of course not, but weighing the probabilities, and giving due weight to the evasions in this little narrative, I am inclined to suspect there may be more to the story. At the outset, we were invited to conclude that the neighbor was arbitrarily bent on changing the design of the fence. It is then divulged that the pickets had deteriorated. Not a "few" pickets, or a "couple" of pickets, but "the" pickets. To do a wholesale replacement of pickets on an old frame is a false economy. This was obviously discussed, along with the reason the leaning posts required replacement. The contention that the soundness of the old frame was confirmed by jumping up and down on it is ludicrous.

I don't know what has been going on here, Rock, but neither do you. Burntplants has declined to respond to some very specific inquiries and thus forfeits, in my mind, the benefit of the doubt. That's just the way I see it.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:31PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Why the attack? Bad mood?

Are you "the neighbor"?

This post was edited by pkponder on Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 23:33

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:32PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Wow, how unpleasant and overtly suspicious at heart people can be . Some are like a dog tearing at a pillow. Gotta get that last feather out. Yes burntplants came here with an agenda and there is nothing wrong in that. She needed support and maybe some good arguments so she can face her situation and see the different issues here, and she came here for advise and some of us are glad to give it to her.. She did not need to be called devious and evasive . Anyway whatever transpires here is not where the situation is decided. You, Whitecap are not needed to arbitrate as the judge and the jury and executioner all rolled into one. Friendly advise is good thing at times like this. Did you see the title of the thread. She is torn over the issue and does not need you to tear into her at this time.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 12:23AM
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Oh. This is a Support Group? We're supposed to respond to gripes like Oprah would? Well, it just so happens I did a site search on Feijoa (pineapple guava) the other day, and what did I come across but a post by burntplants complaining of posters who hold back on relevant information while seeking advice. I'll have none of this "support" business. No, I may as well make a clean breast of it, and admit that I have little patience with those who try to rationalize their way out of accepting their responsibility for maintaining mutually beneficial fences. I suspect even Oprah would draw the line here.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 5:40AM
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No need to get nasty. I've been away from the computer, and up until then have answered questions. Here's the end of the story, and after that I won't check the follow-ups because I don't need people to be nasty to me because they think that's OK on the internet.

I'll be writing a small check to the neighbor. And another one next month, and one after that until I'm done paying for half. (because I really don't have the money.)

I've decided to go ahead an pay them, and not because I was hiding anything before, but because when the fence came down yesterday I found out that the situation was different. They are replacing twice as much fence as I thought, which means the price is fair. And one of the posts does need to be replaced now that I can see it (the one they hung their heavy homemade gate from.)

If you really need to know how many pickets needed to be replaced: 8 pickets (too close to their sprinkler.) And one post (that I didn't know about). On 120 feet of fence.

And yes, the neighbor has as many sports cars as I have kids(3). And yes, they were shocked that I couldn't just write them a check for $800 on the spot. Because they're like that.

I'll get them the money because the fence is on the property line, and the price is fair, even if I believe we could have waited a few more years.
I was initially reluctant to pay because I thought they were cheating me in addition to being rude.
But I am going to ask for a receipt.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Sorry, I noticed one more question I hadn't answered.

"How old is the fence?"

The 60' section of fence with 8 bad pickets and one slightly twisted post that I thought they were going to charge me $800 for is 9 years old.

The additional 60' section is 6 years old.

Since there is going to be 120' of new fence on the property line and they are not cheating me on the price, I will pay my half.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:35AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

That sounds like a very young fence.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:56AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Mine is eighteen years old, and it is still in good shape.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Yep, you ought to be able to get 25 years or so out of cedar and pressure treated pine.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:24AM
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Texas is a grazing state and the law for fencing/grazing (Which is why fences originally started) in the state of Texas more or less says "you must fence in livestock in a manner that keeps livestock on you property." And you are responsible for the fence costs and maintaining it properly.

I know you don't have livestock, but think the idea is about the same. They want the fence for their reasons, so they are going to have to pay for it.

Rather bad form in my opinion to suggest you to pay for it.
Perhaps ask if you are interested in it with a few different quotes to look at, but darn that is bossy to me. Just make sure the fence is on his side of property boundary. And good luck

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:01AM
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lou_texas(8a N Central TX)

Lots of food for thought here. I have no HOA, but if the fence were on the property line, I'd just say: Oh, that's a shame that you didn't check with me first. It's not in this year's budget. Let's talk again next year.

Luckily, I have a great neighbor who is replacing some of the fence between us (that I originally paid for before they moved in), and I told him I'd be glad to go half with him.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:53PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

It is amazing how talk cures a lot of misunderstanding.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:11PM
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ilovemyroses(8 Dallas TX)

just a thought, some neighbors can't be pleased. that is good will to give them $, but not everyone sees things the same way, obviously.

i have a neighbor who, when we moved in and were sodding the yard, asked for a few squares of grass. which i said sure!! then i later found out it was about a 15 by 15 foot square area and she had my landscapers haul it all over and then asked them to plant it, for free, ("as we were already paying them for the planting and product of the grass, so why does it matter where it is?"). she thought this perfectly reasonable!!

anyway, I think it is perfectly reasonable to do either option, pay or not, but, it needs to be what YOU are ok with. resentment from either side is not good, and I have learned that one doesn't need to overly explain their viewpoint....people are entitled to their opinions either way, and generally one will not 'win' them over to your opinion.

Politely decline with a brief, and friendly explanation and continue on as if nothing ever happened! politely! harboring no ill will either way. Along the lines of being true to ones self. y'no?

just food for thought.

smile, get along, harbor no ill will....

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:50AM
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