If you’ve decided it’s time to build a new fence, consider three very important (and surprisingly easy!) steps before you start to build; your safety, the fence’s location and its design.

Step 1 – Call before you dig

So your first – and definitely most important step – doesn’t have anything to do with the fence itself; you have to find out if underground utilities like electricity or water run through your property.

Many people don’t realize that utilities can be lying just a few centimeters underground; without knowing their exact location, even digging by yourself with a shovel can end up causing utility service outages, or worse, causing you or someone else serious injury.

So the very first thing to do is contact Alberta One-Call online or by phone at 1.800.242.3447 to have local utility providers come to your property and mark the location of any underground lines that are near the planned site of your new fence.

Step 2 – Know your property boundaries

Once you know it’s safe to proceed, it’s time to move on to step two; determining where you can place your new fence. With an accurate survey, you can see exactly where the property line is located; it’s important to remember that every part of your new fence must be on your property – even the concrete anchoring posts – meaning it has to be placed inside the survey line; not onto it.

It’s also a safe bet to check with your city or municipality; even though you own the property, there are almost always bylaws and guidelines in place to provide other essential details like how tall the fence can be, and whether or not it will affect an easement, right-of-way or utility access.

Step 3 – Put up a fence everyone can put up with

Once you know where to safely build your fence, the final step to consider is its design. Again, many municipalities and cities have bylaws that will let you know how tall the fence can be, but your area may also be subject to architectural guidelines. The community developer can tell you if guidelines apply to your property and your neighbourhood. Believe it or not, these guidelines can sometimes describe the exact range of styles and colours your fence can be, so it’s worth investigating!

Finally, remember that it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans for the fence with your neighbours on the other side of the property line. Many neighbours will share the costs of construction with you, and at the very least, have a right to know what your plans are before you begin.

If you’ve covered your safety, defined your property and checked your community’s bylaws, then it’s time to put up a fence that’ll make your yard and property more secure and more attractive.

And rest easy, knowing you weren’t fenced in when building the fence of your dreams.