Tall Front Boundary Fences – A Good Idea?

tall front wall

As I walk many km’s along suburban streets every day I am surprised by how many tall front boundary fences I see.

So are they a good idea?…………………… Well here are my thoughts:

Security

Well a 1.8m fence could keep some people out. But how much of a challenge is a 6 foot fence to a fit, determined thief,?

Once they are over they can concentrate on breaking into your house without worrying about being seen by passers by.

Also these days most of the high value items in your house can easily be passed over a wall,……………. most will probably fit in a thief’s pockets.

Privacy

Yes they do make things more private but how often are you doing something in the front yard that needs privacy?

If you are ill, or as you age, you may miss the ability to watch what is happening in the street.

Shading

Can help to keep low sun from the west out of the house, but well spaced shrubs will do it as well.

Sound Barrier

If you live on a main road a brick fence will help keep the noise down, although double glazing will probably have a similar effect at lower cost, with heating and cooling benefits.

Kerbside Appeal

Estate agents are always going on about ‘kerbside appeal’ when selling houses.

How much kerbside appeal is there in a big featureless fence.

Finally

Although I have never had a front fence on any of my new houses I can see the benefit in stopping people walking on the garden and stopping dogs c___ing there.

I just think a fence of 6-900mm is generally enough for keeping dogs off.

If you have a tall fence why not tell me why you like it?

See Brick Fences for design recommendations.

Protect Your Block From Dumping

A regular problem with vacant new house blocks is they are used as a convenient dumping ground for other builders.


It’s much cheaper to dump on a nearby site than haul the material to a tip and pay tip fees.

If you are are really unlucky the material may be contaminated (for example asbestos waste). . . . which may mean you have to pay for testing and additional tip fees to dispose of it.

Fence the Site

The best advice I can give is to make your site seem loved by erecting a fence,  mowing any grass and/or keeping weeds under control.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive fence, something like a 1.2 m high dog mesh supported by steel star pickets at 4-5m intervals will be fine, and should only cost around $5-6/m.

If you have got quite a few posts to put in it can be worth hiring, borrowing , or buying a post driver.

Light fencing like this is not foolproof, but it makes things a little more difficult for the dumper. This means they are more likely to look for a block where nobody seems to be taking an interest.

 

See Guide to Buying a Block for more advice.

 

Brick Fences

As I travel around the Melbourne Suburbs I see lots of brick fences……….. A problem with a large proportion is that they have obvious cracks.

If you don’t believe me just walk around your neighborhood and look at a few brick fences yourself!

So why are there problems with brick fences?

  • The actual cost of the wall in both materials and labour is high resulting in people trying to minimise on wall and pier thickness.
  • Although many people think of brickwork as an inert material it is still subject to expansion and contraction which needs to be accommodated with proper detailing.
  • Unless the thickness of the wall is increased for taller walls the weight of the top portion of the wall acts against the overall wall stability.
  • Brick work is actually a fairly brittle structural material which relies on its weight for a lot of its strength. The jointing material of mortar is much weaker than the bricks.
  • Due to the considerable weight of brickwork it needs substantial (expensive) foundations which will not be subject to any settlement.
  • If it’s built on clay there is more chance of movement……The soil below the narrow foundation can gain, or lose, moisture more readily than under a house slab.
  • Although it ‘feels’ as solid as a concrete wall it may only have a tenth of the structural strength of a well designed reinforced concrete wall.

Here are a few recommendations;

  • Don’t try to save money on the foundation. After all that’s what all those expensive bricks are standing on. A 500mm wide x 300mm deep concrete with trench mesh should be the minimum.
  • Brick piers a minimum of 320mm x 320mm with vertical steel reinforcement.
  • Minimum wall thickness should be 210mm (double brick)
  • Have articulation/expansion joints at 5m intervals.
  • Use horizontal steel reinforcement every 6 courses.
  • It you are retaining soil get the wall properly designed.

All sounds too expensive?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Perhaps brick piers with infill timber or steel panels may be the way to go!

Remember – “There is no such thing as a cheap brick wall”.

For sizes of brick walls see Brick Dimensions