I have my property plat. Do I still need a survey?
If you are unclear as to where your actual property lines are, it is advisable that you have the property surveyed prior to the installation of your new fence. A property plat only gives you approximate dimensions as to were the property lines stop and start. Many times, the property plat will say that the plat is not intended for the establishment of property lines. We can provide you with a stake survey from an independent survey company at your request for an additional fee. The survey fees will vary in price depending on the size of property that needs to have the survey completed. If you elect not to have the property surveyed and are comfortable as to where your property lines are, it is your responsibility to show our crew where the placement of the fence is going to be.
How close to the property line can I place my fence?
Fencing can be placed up to but not over or on the property line. We like to stay about 6″ off of the property line just to make sure the fence has been installed within your property boundaries and that there are no issues with the fence in the event you decide to sell your home. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Am I required to have a permit from the county to have my fence installed?
Every county we work in has different regulations as to whether or not a permit is required. Below is a list of the different counties’ regulations regarding fencing.
Anne Arundel County: If you have a corner lot, water front or you are having a pool installed you are required to have a county permit. For all other applications, if the fence is 6′ or under in height, you are not required to have a permit. If the fence is higher than 6′ tall, a permit is required. If you live in the Annapolis city limits you are required to have a permit.
Baltimore County: If you are having a pool installed, a permit is required and must meet county pool code regulations. If the fence is 42″ high or less, a permit is not required. For anything taller than 42″, you are required to have a permit.
Carroll County: A permit is not required if the fence is 6′ in height or less. If the fence is over 6′ in height or if you are having a pool installed, you will need a county permit. If you are in the town of Mt-Airy, you need a permit from the city of Mt-Airy.
P.G. County: A permit is required if the fence is over 4′ tall, and if you live in the city of Bowie, you are required to have a city of Bowie permit as well. All pools require a 6′ tall fence.
Montgomery County: A permit is required if the fence is over 4′ tall. All pools require a 5′ tall fence.
Howard County: A permit is required if the fence is over 6′ tall. All pools require a 4′ tall fence.
Note: County regulations are constantly changing and it is advisable that you call prior to any home improvement to make sure that the current regulations are still in affect for what ever project you are having installed. Always check with your local inspections and permits office for clarifications for all pool fences and codes for fencing.
What do I need in order to get a permit for my project?
Generally, you need a copy of your property plat that clearly shows the house and its location in conjunction with the property lines. Indicate on the plat were the new fence is to be located on the property. You will also be required to fill out the application for permit and there is a county fee involved. We can obtain the county permit for you at your request for an additional cost.
Do I need to call Miss Utility?
Any time you dig, Miss Utility needs to be called. Remember: safety first. If we are installing the fence for you we are required by law to call Miss Utility. For your convenience, we have enclosed the phone number for Miss Utility at 1-800-257-7777. Remember, Miss Utility only marks public utilities, gas, electric, phone and cable TV. If you have private lines such as electric run to your bug zapper or you have a well, septic tank or sprinkler system, these are not located by Miss Utility and it is up to the customer to advise us as to the approximate location of underground obstructions. We will do every thing possible not to damage private utilities. Unfortunately Mid Atlantic Deck and Fence cannot be responsible for damage done to private underground obstructions.
Is my contractor supposed to be licensed?
Yes, any contractor in the state of Maryland is required to have a Maryland state home improvement license (NOT A CONTRACTORS LICENSE) in order to install any fencing in Maryland. They should also carry general liability insurance and workers compensation so both you and your contractor are protected from any liability. Any licensed home improvement contractor should gladly provide you with a copy of their home improvement license and a certificate of general liability and workers compensation insurance upon your request.
MATERIAL AND INSTALLATION QUESTIONS
What does ACQ pressure treated pine mean?
Let us give you a quick chemistry class. Pressure treated southern yellow pine is what every one refers to as just plain pressure treated lumber. It is grown mostly in the southeastern United States and is pressure treated to help eliminate termite infestation, rot and decay and comes with a lifetime manufactures warranty against rot and termite infestation. The chemicals they use to treat the lumber are Alkaline Copper Quat, hence the name ACQ. These are the new preservatives that are used since the government banned the use of CCA in 2003. CCA stands for Chromated Copper Arsenate. The new pressure treated lumber is suppose to be better for the environment and humans but it sure doesn’t sound like it, does it? We’ll see…
Why should I choose western red cedar over pressure treated southern yellow pine for my new fence?
Western red cedar is not a sap wood and therefore is much more dimensionally stable than southern yellow pine. It tends not to warp, crack and twist as much as a southern yellow pine product and it accepts a stain or a seal much better. If left unstained or sealed it will weather to a light silver similar to the color of the bark on trees. Western red cedar has a natural resistance to rot and termite infestation, and for this reason is still used today for siding and roofing material on upper end custom homes. Let’s face it: there is a reason the residential building industry does not use pressure treated southern yellow pine for siding or roofing material. It’s too dimensionally unstable and it does not accept a paint or a stain very well.
Why does southern yellow pine warp, crack, twist and split over time?
Southern yellow pine is a sap wood and what causes the warping, cracking, twisting and bowing is the rate in which the moisture content in the lumber is being released from the lumber itself, and the wood fibers from within the lumber can’t keep up with the rate in which the moisture is being released. This is what causes the lumber to be dimensionally unstable. This is a natural occurrence and is a natural part of the lumber’s drying process. It does not mean you have defective material. It’s just the nature of the material we are dealing with. If you have a company or contractor that tells you that their southern yellow pine material will not warp, crack, twist or split, odds are they are not being straight with you. However a good wood sealer applied to the material will dramatically reduce the amount of dimensional instability of the product; it will not eliminate it all but it will help out tremendously. Don’t let this scare you; southern yellow pine is still one of most widely used wood fencing/decking products on the market today, but facts are facts and every consumer should be advised properly in order for the consumer to make an educated decision as to what material to use for their outdoor project.
At what point should my fence posts be 6x6s in place of 4x4s?
In most instances, 4x4s are fine for fencing that is 7′ tall or shorter. However, if the fence is going to be over 7′ in height, you might want to spend the extra money and use 6×6 posts because wood fences become very heavy and the wind load is much greater. Therefore, using 4x4s on fences over 6′ tall might create a problem down the road and may break under the wind load. No matter what the height, we recommend 6x6s on all gate posts to help reinforce the gate itself. This is because the gate is the part of the fence that takes the most abuse. Certainly, 6x6s can be used on fences that are 7′ and shorter because they create mass and change the whole look of the fence. When you add a decorative post cap, you really have a fence that makes a statement. Remember, a fence is usually the first thing you see when you drive up to your home and you want it to say “Welcome!”
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How deep in the ground do you usually set the posts?
On most wooden fence structures, the posts are usually set 30 to 36 inches below grade. This can vary based on the job site conditions or any underground utilities that might be in the way. On vinyl, steel or aluminum fences, the manufacturers themselves have their own specifications as to how deep the posts need to be set. Most of them require at least 24 to 30 inches below grade.
Do all fence posts need to be set in concrete?
Not necessarily. There are a number of variables that come into play when deciding to use concrete for the posts or not. If the ground is extremely wet, we recommend dry packing the posts in concrete and hand tamping them, as the moisture from the ground will be absorbed by the dry cement and eventually harden. All gate posts should be in concrete for the simple reason that the gate is a functional moving part of the fence and you really need to make sure the posts are secured properly. Most aluminum, steel and vinyl fences are required to be set in wet poured concrete.
Do I have any other options besides wood fencing for my home?
Yes! Today there a lot of different low maintenance materials used for fencing. If you like the wrought iron look without the maintenance that it requires, we suggest using aluminum or steel fencing. They are offered in many styles and colors for you to choose and add a elegant look to any property. Plus, with the painting technology they offer today, it makes these products virtually maintenance free. As you know vinyl fencing has become one of the most widely used materials for today’s fencing needs. We offer over 300 different styles in privacy, picket and ornamental designs because we manufacture the vinyl fencing ourselves. In most cases, anything you see built out of wood, we can duplicate and build it out of vinyl. There are 4 color options for vinyl fencing that we offer (white, sand, tan and khaki). You can mix and match colors and custom design the fence exactly the way you want it. We strongly recommend stopping by our office to see it for yourself.