How to Design a Residential Fence


Whether you have a small yard or many acres, you might find it necessary to fence your property. Fences keep pets in and help protect your property from pests. Fences can range from the most basic barbed wire, to highly ornamental wrought iron.

How to Design a Residential Fence

Step 1

Check local regulations to determine whether any building codes, permits or height regulations apply.

Step 2

Measure the area. If your yard or acreage is hilly or sloping, use a walking wheel type measuring tool. At this time, measurement is simply to get a general idea of how much fence you need.

Step 3

Determine your budget and how much area must be fenced. Does it all need to be fenced right away, or can you do a little at a time?

Step 4

Consult fencing catalogs at your local hardware store, library or online to get an idea of what kinds of fence are available. There is a huge variety of fencing choices. Is your fence for decorative purposes, or do you need to contain animals? Some animals are more difficult to fence in than others, and will require a more structured fence.

Step 5

Decide what kind of fence you want. You may like the look of wood or wrought iron, but the cost may be prohibitive if you have hundreds of feet to fence. One option is to use wood or wrought iron along the front of your property and a less expensive fence, such as barbed wire, wire mesh or galvanized tube around the sides and back. Drive around and look at fences that are new and older. Consider how much maintenance you are willing or able to do each year when determining which material you will use.

Step 6

Once you know the style of fence, and type of material you wish to use, decide whether you will build it yourself or obtain quotes from fencing contractors. Most fence builders specialize in one type of material, such as wood or metal. A fence builder should visit the job site and do at least rough measurements to provide an accurate quote.

Step 7

Some fence builders will provide a "ball park" estimate or a general per-foot cost. Examine the bids you receive closely to see what is included in the price and what is extra. Once you accept a quote, your fence is ready to be built, and installed. If you are building the fence yourself, it is time to perform accurate measurements and make a list of materials needed. Consult online sources or a fence book for proper how-to-build-a-fence instruction.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you are unsure of the exact property line and the fence runs along the perimeter, obtain a survey to make sure you are not building on another property.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure or walking wheel measuring tool
  • Online access or fence building reference material


  • Alan Rice Ziffel Manufacturing
  • Lowes Buying Guides

Who Can Help

  • Do It Yourself
  • Backyard Gardener
Keywords: fence, iron, wood, wire, rail

About this Author

Cathy Cunningham has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and minor in editing and publishing from California State University, Chico. She interned at Moon Publications. She spent nine years writing technical documentation, system procedures, and user manuals for a major health care company. For the last eight years, she has written and edited various newsletters.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | How to Design a Residential Fence