Fabulous fences

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Adding a fence to your home or business can be a significant investment - one you should not consider lightly.

The right fence can do wonders for the look of your home, creating a frame for your living environment as well as providing security and privacy.

Alan James, a hardware specialist at Build It, says there is a variety of fencing to choose from, but before deciding one should first establish what the primary purpose of your fence is.

"Is it for security, to satisfy municipal codes, to retain children or pets, beautify your property, screen an unsightly view, prevent theft, reduce noise, provide privacy and so on?," James asks.

"Some fences work better in certain applications than others."

Andile Makhongolo, a landscape architect, says the options are countless - both as far as price and design are concerned - so it's wise to consider the architectural style of a home.

"It is important that the design of your fence complements the style of your house, Makhongolo advises. "You have to ask whether you want it to stand out as a feature in itself or blend in.

"Some fences are designed not to be seen, while others are used to form a backdrop to other features. Specific colours and styles will help you achieve the look you are after."

Makhongolo says that, depending on the landscaping, a fence might be level, stepped or sloped. He advises people to take into account height, materials, post settings and gate locations.

He says if the fence plan includes a gate one has to decide where the gate should be and how it will be designed.

"Location is a primary consideration," he points out. "But as far as design goes a gate can either match the fence in appearance or be of a contrasting size, design and material.

"Whatever you decide, the size of the gate will determine post spacing and location."

Makhongolo advises people to consider their neighbours.

"A neighbourly way to build a fence is to make sure that it's equally attractive on both sides."

Makhongolo says he's seen a considerable increase in the demand for brick fencing in upper-class neighbourhoods and standard middle-class homes.

"Because of the high levels of crime in South Africa people are opting for brick walls. They are safer and more durable and easy to maintain."

There are many factors that go with your decision to fence.

l How long do you plan on living in the house;

l The initial cost;

l Maintenance;

l The terrain of your property;

l The conveyance of your property;

l Property lines and underground cables.

A word of advice from Makhongolo: "No matter what fence style or materials you choose, the key to an attractive, long-lasting fence is proper installation.

"Handy homeowners can quite likely install a wood, vinyl or chain-link fence themselves.

"Metal and stone fences are jobs probably best left to the professionals."