How to erect a fence

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We are often asked what erecting a new fence entails, so here is a short breakdown of things to consider.

Before you start the project consider the following:

  1. If the fence is at a residential location it is wise to check the deeds to your house as these will often tell you whose responsibility the upkeep of the fence is.  It may be your neighbours responsibility in which case you can ignore the rest.
  2. Do you need planning permission to erect the fence?  There are more details here.
  3. If there is an existing fence in place how will you dispose of this?  Will you require a skip? Will you need to ask someone to take it away, if so ensure that they are registered with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier or you may find you are liable if they dispose of the waste unlawfully.
  4. Will you need to cut any trees or shrubs down?  If you do you will need to check that these are not protected.  More info here.
  5. Is it likely that there are any services in the ground where the fence is to be erected i.e. electric cables, gas pipes etc.  It is important that you check this before you start digging.

Ok, assuming that after considering the above you are continuing with the project you will then need to ensure:

  1. That you have the correct tools for the job.  Standard DIY tools such as a saw, hammer and spirit level are a must.  You will also require tools to dig the holes to set the posts into.  Depending on the number of hole required it may be worthwhile to hire a mechanical post hole borer, these are available from most tool hire companies.  If you only have a few holes to dig it is probably better to do it by hand using a long handled spade.  Digging the holes can be the toughest part of the job if the ground is hard.
  2. The ground where the fence is to be erected should be rendered as level as possible to avoid unnecessary undulations in the fence
  3. That you procure good quality materials to complete the fence.  If the materials you purchase are not up to the job you will never achieve the results you desire no matter how good a job you do of erecting the fence.  Don’t try to save money by opting for cheap materials, it will cost more in the long run.

The actual erection process:

  1. Dig your holes at the distance apart required by the materials you have purchased, the length of the supporting rails or panel length.  To ensure that the holes are in a straight line use a tightly stretched string line, this can then also be used to ensure that the posts are the correct height.  It is important that the holes are deep enough to support the fence, for a 1.8 M fence the holes should be at least 600mm deep.
  2. Let’s assume that you are erecting a panel fence.  You have dug your hole to the required depth in the correct location.  Next you need to insert your post into your hole to the correct depth.  Mark on your post with a piece of chalk the depth required and place in the hole, adjust the depth of the hole to obtain the correct height for the post.
  3. Once the correct height is obtained concrete your post into the hole.  The best material for this is a mixture of sand and stone, sometimes known as 20mm all in ballast.  Mix this with cement in a 1 part cement to 6 parts ballast mixture, then add water.  Don’t over wet the mixture! With the post in the hole to the required depth fill the hole with the cement and ballast mixture, compact this to hold the post.  At this stage use your spirit level to ensure that the post is upright.
  4. Now secure your panel to the post.  Ensure that your panel is upright by pacing your spirit level on the top of the panel.
  5. Insert your next post to the correct height, fix with concrete and secure to panel.

Once you have your fence in place there should be no need to paint it if you have purchased good quality materials as they should be pressure treated.  However, as fencing is inevitably exposed to the elements it does require regular protection, usually on an annual basis with a good quality wood protection paint, there are many good ones on the market which are environmentally friendly, we recommend Protek

The above information is by no means comprehensive but we hope that it does give a few pointers.  We are always happy to provide help if you are considering a fencing project, please either call us on 01954 768009, e-mail us at or complete our contact form.


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