Factors to Consider for Fencing
By Gretchen A. Peck
If you’re thinking about installing a fence at your home, you’re not alone. In 2021, 60% of the fences installed across the country were at private residences. “The strong emphasis households are putting on security and privacy and the increasing levels of disposable income are driving investments in fencing products for residential applications,” according to San Francisco-based Grand View Research’s “Fencing Market Size Industry Report, 2022-2030.”
“They” say, “good fences make good neighbors,” and there may be some wisdom to that, but more importantly, fences can be solutions to a number of landscaping objectives. Depending on the design and dimensions, fences can afford privacy and security. They visually signal that a boundary or border exists. They can beautify a yard, add to a home’s curb appeal, or create a backdrop to plantings and trees. They can keep deer and other critters out—protecting those gardens and trees—while keeping our own little loved ones safely inside.
Welcome Home sought the advice of the Atlas Companies, which has a fencing division based in Branford. The company has been in business for 45 years and operates other divisions, as well, for structures like outbuildings, sheds, garages and barns.
Atlas not only installs fences, they manufacture them, too.
“That’s one of our unique selling propositions,” according to Atlas Companies Director of Marketing Marvin Glenn Jones. “We have our own in-house carpenters, so every job is pretty much custom made.” Manufacturing operations are in Branford.
Ed Eisenhaure manages Atlas’ fence division. He and Jones spoke with Welcome Home via video conference about the process of choosing and installing a residential fence.
It’s important to know that there have been some innovations in fencing in recent years. Eisenhaure recalled earlier in his career when homeowners’ options were limited to pressure treated lumber or varieties of white cedar.
“Northern white cedar was a huge part of the fencing industry here in the Northeast,” he said.
Then came vinyl fences, and more recently composite materials which offer a lower-maintenance alternative to wood. Atlas carries an array of options for the homeowner: cedar, vinyl, composites, metal, steel and aluminum.
Choosing a fence comes down to four points: Budget, maintenance, aesthetics and purpose. The purpose of the fence is paramount, Eisenhaure and Jones agreed, and it’s the starting point for their consultation with prospective customers. For example, is the fence for privacy, pet and child boundaries, or to protect a pool area. Or perhaps the homeowner wants to add a decorative element to their landscaping?
“Picket fences are very popular,” Jones said. The classic picket fence blends style and functionality.
When a yard backs up to a wooded area, and the homeowner wants a boundary there, without obscuring the view, a black chain-link fence might be the answer, because it “disappears” against the wooded backdrop, Eisenhaure suggested.
When putting up a fence in a neighborhood setting, they recommend speaking with neighbors and explaining why you’re adding the structure, so they don’t misinterpret your intentions.
A lot’s boundaries will dictate where you can place a fence, and homeowners may want to consider other factors, too, such as impediments like trees and roots, and how you’ll be partitioning off some or all of the yard.
“Think about what may be a problem in the future,” Eisenhaure said. “For example, if you typically blow leaves to the back of your property where there’s a wooded area, you may want to add a large gate to the fence back there, so you can still access the back of the property and get things like lawn equipment or a wheelbarrow back there. … Or, maybe you want to add a fence to the backyard, but that’s where you get loads of wood delivered. We can recommend a solution like a double gate—big enough for a dump truck to get through.”
Gates are an important part of the fencing consultation, especially if the homeowner needs access for a car, trailer, camper, boats or other oversized gear. “We always make sure that customers are aware when a fence may restrict them in some way from living their everyday lives,” Eisenhaure said.
If it’s a gate that’s frequently opened and closed, or if there are valuables stored behind it, smart controls, lighting and security features might be added.
It helps with installation to prep the site by removing any objects or yard debris in the way, the Atlas representatives noted. Homeowners are also responsible for researching local fencing ordinances and acquiring proper permitting for town halls. Increasingly, towns across the state are doing away with permitting requirements for residential fences, with the exception of pool sites, Jones and Eisenhaure said, citing the ubiquity of residential fence work and too few structural inspectors to manage it all. Conversely, commercial fencing applications always require a permit, he said.
Asked about some of the most extravagant fences they’ve built for Connecticut homeowners, Eisenhaure said that they’ve had projects valued at $150,000 or more, for large properties with lots of acreage and homeowners who chose high-end materials and hardware, numerous gates, lighting, automation and security systems.
“We’ve worked on a lot of multimillion-dollar properties along the shoreline, and you can imagine that they ask for pretty elaborate fencing projects,” Eisenhaure said.