Thursday, June 26, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor? Now where's the fence?

Living in the 'burbs means the chance that you will have neighbors is very high. But if you're lucky enough to live in an older neighborhood, most of the time there is at least a little breathing room between you and your fellow inhabitants. And a good fence.

Last winter during a particularly bad windstorm, a panel of the fence that runs between us and the house behind us, succumbed to its rotten feet, and had it not been for a conveniently-placed tree, would have landed flat on its back. Instead, it stayed propped up against said tree until as recently as this last Monday. This is when HE showed up.

Now about a month or so ago, I noticed the neighbor behind us, in her yard talking to a gentleman, and pointing at the fence. So, I thought I'd walk out and see if they were discussing the fixing of the fence. It seemed only right to at least gather some info, as it was our fence too. I should also mention, we've lived in our current house for six years this August, and up until this moment, we've never met the neighbors who live behind us. I know, we should be more pro-active and get to know our neighbors, but they're busy, we're busy, etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, so the neighbor lady and I introduce ourselves, and she says this is a contractor who's in the process of getting her an estimate for the fence. At this point, they haven't decided whether they're going to fix just the broken panel, or replace the whole fence. I say, "Well, as it's our fence too, when you decide, please let us know, and we can at least contribute for our part of the fence." So we left it at that.

Fast forward to this Monday. I look out the back window, and I see the same man, who has now begun work on the fence. The broken panel has been removed, as well as another part of our shared fence. He's there all day, working away, but by evening, the new panels have not gone back up. And by the way, we were home all day, and no communication from our neighbors about what's going on.

The next morning, I'm inside doing some housework, and happen to look outside. This man is now in our yard. He sees me, and motions for me to come outside. I do, and he says, "Did they tell you I was going to be in your yard?" I said, "No, but I figured you would have to be, as you're working on the fence, and it's obviously not done yet." He said, "Well, when I'm done you'll have a very nice looking fence, because in addition to replacing the panels, I'm also pressure- and oil-treating the old panels so they'll look like new." And then he went on to say that most people don't take care of their fences and should, because treating them is only $2000, whereas a new fence can be $5000. I mumbled something, and then retreated to the house, cringing and seeing the dollar signs multiplying, because I knew he was both treating and repairing the fence.

Today, day 4, and we've still heard nothing from our neighbors, and this man continues to work. Now I realize he's already done some of the work, but I'm really nervous because I haven't seen any quote, and have no idea what our portion may be.

So I'm asking you readers for some advice on what we should do. My mom says, "Don't go borrowing trouble and worry. Just wait and see what happens. I mean, you never even saw a quote, so you could always say, 'We didn't agree to that amount.'

However, I don't want to start WW3 with these neighbors--we still have to live here, after all. And he did do the work, so I want to do the right thing there.

The reality is, we don't have a couple thousand dollars just lying around that we haven't known what to do with. And yes, we could have gone out and gotten our own estimates, but I think if it had been up to us, we probably would have tried to fix it ourselves---Laura VG, Clint does owe David some reciprocal fence/post-hole digging time :-)

Suggestions? Help please!


d said...

but I think if it had been up to us, we probably would have tried to fix it ourselves

It was falling on the neighbors yard, so it could sit against that tree forever! Had it been up to me, we'd put up black chain link and be done with it...

But yes, I wouldn't have hired someone to fix a fence. I'd have talked to the neighbor- scheduled a weekend- and done the work ourselves. I'm sure that for what the guy is charging, we could have replaced the entire fence! (and treated it, if you're one of those sick individuals that don't think fences should weather. I mean, it's not like treating a fence board actually keeps the post from rotting off at theground, and even the best pt post will rot when it's wet for nine months at a time)

Melinda said...

It is always wise to have the wood treated . . . when the fence is first put in, not after it hs already become weathered.

Having used a post hole digger and done much fence repair myself, I would say that it is definitely worth it to have someone more experieinced (and stronger), due it for you.

I agree with 'd' though, wood fencing that comes into contact with dampness 9 months of a year will only last so long.

If it were me, I would take a deep breath and go over there and approach the neighbor myself. I would agree to what was originally agreed to: paying my portion of the fence replacement. That does not include the fence treatment, since that was not offered by you.

We have fenceline shared with two different neighbors. Wind has blown over chunks, numerous times. One portion is needing repair currently. Different neighbors have lived in the houses. Only once has a neighbor offered to share cost or help with the work. I am being honest here, I resent that. I am SO glad that it was offered by the one neighbor.

It is a worthwhile investment in community good-will to pay for the wood and work.

By the way the price does seem to be competitive, even though it is initially shocking.

Laura said...

I can send my post hole digging hubby over anytime! :) I hope it all works out..keep us posted!