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Mike Holmes’ Advice on Backyard Decks and Fences

Makin’ it Right with Mike

HOLMES_Mike_Outside_003By Kristine Archer

A fence or deck can be the focal point or finishing touch to your backyard. However, these projects can also lead to countless headaches and cost overruns if you choose the wrong person for the job. When dealing with such a big decision and important project, who better to talk to than Canada’s most well-known and trusted contractor?

That is exactly what Pools, Spas & Patios did, posing some of your most common fence- and deck-related questions to Mike Holmes, author, home improvement expert and star of the hit HGTV shows Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection. In this article, Holmes, whose ‘Make it Right’ motto has become famous, offers tips and advice valuable to any homeowner looking to tackle a backyard construction project.

PSP:  When it comes to fences and decks, should I hire a contractor or are can I tackle this kind of project myself?

Holmes: For most home renovation jobs, I tell people to hire a professional, and fences and decks are no exception. If you need to save money and want to do it yourself, make sure you do your homework and ask questions before you start any project.

PSP: What steps should I take before any backyard construction begins?

Holmes: This is a topic I cover in detail in my book, Make it Right: Expert Advice on Home Renovations. No matter what the project is, be sure to take your time and know what you want before you start. Find a good contractor and be sure to interview him or her before hiring. I like to call it ‘The Dating Game.’

You will absolutely need a permit if you are building a deck, but perhaps not for a fence; it depends on your municipality. Be sure to check your survey and call your local municipal government. You need to know if there are any issues or easements with your fence, especially if you’re on a corner lot. Also, find out if there are any bylaws on fence height and appearance. It is really important to call before you dig! You can cut cables and even break a gas line if they aren’t marked.

If you’re building a fence, make sure it is on your property and not your neighbour’s. If you plan to share the building expenses with your neighbours, make sure everyone is in agreement before you start. Discuss with them the costs, property lines, what style of fence they’d prefer and how much privacy do they want. It might even be a good idea to have some sort of written agreement in place before any construction starts.

If you’re replacing an existing fence, find out for sure that the old one was put in the correct spot in the first place. If it was not done correctly, finding out now may save you a lot of headaches when its time to sell your home.

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8 comments on “Mike Holmes’ Advice on Backyard Decks and Fences”

  1. What fence company did you use for your sons house on season 1 and episode 6 of Holmes and Holmes
    Trouble locating a source in a Florida
    We love the shadow box effect and the construction simplicity
    Thank you

  2. I was looking for that answer also. What kind of fence did you install for his house? It made install and board replacing look easy.

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