We live in a master planned community of ~3000 homes and as such, we have a fairly thorough set of HOA covenants. They’re not idiotically written, but they can be a pain at times when you want to do something simple like put in a playset in your backyard. Recently, they sent out their monthly newsletter notifying everyone that they would be “focusing on fences”, as there have been some homes that are staining their fences (not approved – sealing is fine, staining is a no-no) replacing their cedar fences with non-approved woods other than cedar (gasp-the horror!) and have rundown fences that need repair or replacing. We didn’t think anything about it as most of our fence is in good shape. Although Mrs. SSC and I disagree on this, because our views of “good shape” are highly divergent. However, one of our neighbors want to replace their fence and split the cost to replace the side we share with them. Now we’re arguing discussing which one of us is right. Oh brother…
Let me begin by saying that because we’re in a larger neighborhood a lot of people like to “Keep up with the Joneses” which is what sparked our recent fence issue. After the newsletter came out, within a month, 6 houses on our street had their entire fences redone – new stringers (the 2×4’s that the planks get nailed to) and new planks. Sure enough, one of our neighbors also noticed that and now wants theirs replaced too. Ugh…
Mr. SSC: I was approached by one of our neighbors and he wanted to let us know they were looking into it, and would get estimates, and didn’t have a quick time table for it, but since it’s an unexpected expense he wanted to give us a heads up and make sure it’s financially feasible. I thought that was nice of him and it seemed pretty neighborly on his part.
Then his wife stopped by to give me the estimate and it became clear it was a “they replaced their fence, and our fence is 12 years old and looking raggedy, so I’m going to replace it. Since we can’t downsize because my husband says it’s too much cost, I’m doing lots of remodeling.” The $1900 estimate she got was for ~100’ of fence that we share. Yippee!!
Mrs. SSC: I think that’s rude that they asked us to pay half, since our fence is in good enough shape and it doesn’t need to be replaced. Who decides to spend $3k on a fence if it’s not broken or falling over?! So because she is a new empty nester, we get caught in her boredom trying to find things to do around the house. That’s idiotic, we shouldn’t have to pay for that.
Mr. SSC: I agree sort of, except that I see the fence every week when I mow and think it could use a huge touch-up (at least on that side, the rest is in a lot better shape). We’ve already replaced 1 stringer on our back fence that shriveled up and fell apart, however, I just replaced the stringer myself and re-nailed the existing planks to it, easy-peasy.
The side we share with these neighbors however, has 5 – 6 sections (out of ~11) that need the stringers replaced and then probably 60% or more of the boards themselves need replacing. They are rotted out at the base from being installed touching the ground and the excessive sprinkler usage from the previous home owners, they’re also warped from 12 years exposure to the heat and humidity, and some are just broken at the top or base.
Also, I saw that the front section of our fence that we share with them has both stringers that are starting to fall apart too, so I was already planning on replacing them very soon; however, I was just planning on replacing the stringers, not the planks too. Just last weekend, I had to re-nail a few boards to the existing deteriorating stringer because the nails had rusted through and they were hanging loosely. Ahhhh, the joys of home ownership.
Mrs. SSC: I don’t think all of those boards are as bad as you say. Sure we might need to replace a few stringers that are warped or deteriorating, and there might be 10 – 12 fence planks that need replacing, but come on, we don’t need to totally replace every board on 13 sections of fence. They’re doing great for being 12 years old, and they can go a few years more. Why replace them now? Especially if we can move in 2 more years and then it’s not our problem.
Mr. SSC: Oh brother… We could piece meal it together and save a lot of money but if the neighbor doesn’t want to go that route, how am I going to convince them t just replace the ones that need replacing. I bet we’d end up close enough to full replacing, she wouldn’t go that route. I got a few online estimates and one from a contractor we’ve used quite a bit, we realized the $1900 is a fair price for our area. Yep, $1900, so our half would be $950.
Mrs. SSC: I vote that we price out what we would replace and the costs associated with that and tell them that is the amount we’d pay, but not the full $950. It’s ridiculous that just because they want a better/newer aesthetic we are forced into saying goodbye to $950. We wouldn’t get that replaced this year, and probably not until we were getting it ready to sell, and even then we’d just replace what needs replacing and not the whole fence.
Mr. SSC: I think that’s being cheap and causing undue friction with the neighbors. We should just go ahead and pay and get it taken care of.
Mrs. SSC: I realize the fence is past its’ “pretty years”, however I think it has some good years left, especially since it’s a want and not a need. I still think it’s a ridiculous cost just because the neighbors want something new and pretty to look at. Why should my money go to pay for their fences’ plastic surgery makeover when it just needs a little botox?
Ultimately, we will probably go halfsies on the fence. Mainly, because if we fight it, they could make a case to the HOA that it needs to be repaired and force us into it, and then we’d just have grumpy neighbors.
What are your thoughts?
Better yet, who do you agree with more? Mwahahahahaaa
Have we overlooked some options that weren’t mentioned?