Installing a boundary fence

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cast iron, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Ok, finally talked to the new owners of the acreage next ours (currently no boundary fence between the two pieces). Both of us are absentee owners.

    There was some confusion on his part as far as where the property lines were. I get the feeling he didn't look very close at the property. When they were looking at the property they were actually standing on our property, and used our culvert/driveway to gain access to the property. I think I got him straightened out on that though.

    I decided against asking him if he knew that 100% of the property he purchased was designated as hydric soils, and 75% is designated as wetland. I kind of get the feeling he doesn't know. I'm not sure if they care or not, as they said they purchased the land as an investment. They own a small time logging company in Oregon, so maybe they will use the property for timber.[shrug] I will mention it to him during our next conversation.

    The good news is they are interested in going in together on a boundary fence between the two pieces. Even better is they agree with me that using a surveyor to set some line markers is a better idea than trying to figure it out ourselves.

    So, What about those fences? The length is 1200', hopefully in a straight line after the brush and trees are cleared out.

    Not that this is critical but WA has a statute about fences (imagine that) that says:
    "A lawful fence shall be of at least four barbed, horizontal, well-stretched wires, spaced so that the top wire is forty-eight inches, plus or minus four inches, above the ground and the other wires at intervals below the top wire of twelve, twenty-two, and thirty-two inches. These wires shall securely fastened to substantial posts set firmly in the ground as nearly equidistant as possible, but not more than twenty-four feet apart." Does this sound like a "normal" farm fence?

    I need to make a materials list and come up with a materials cost estimate. What else do I need to know about building a fences like this? How far apart should the posts be? Materials would be posts, wire, nails, and what else? I presume the corner posts need some sort of reinforcement? Is reinforcement needed every so many feet as well???

    As far as the survey goes my plan was to contact the outfit that did the survey on the property the last time. How is an estimate given for this sort of thing? Do they come out and look at the situation first? I've been told that sometimes if is better if you can "clear a path for the surveyors". The more time they have to spend hacking through the brush the more expensive it will be. How can I clear a path if I don't know what the path should be? Should I take a best guess shot using a gps to make a path?

    This property has heavy vegetation, and some trees that may fall right on the line.

    Thanks
    Wayne
     
  2. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wayne,

    Your right about WA fencing regulations. I over do my boundary fences just because I'm beside a busy highway. My corner posts are railroad ties and then place posts 10 feet apart. Posts between the corners are steel with a wood post every fourth one. If you are going to own the property for quite a while I would put in as strong of fence as you can afford and maybe the neighbor will go along with it.

    Bob
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We built our boundary fence in pretty much the same way unioncreek described...telephone poles as corner posts (set in concrete), steel T-posts every 10 feet with telephone poles every fourth one. The corner posts are braced. However, we used horse wire fencing with one strand of barbed wire on top since we have horses in that pasture.

    Our neighbor said he was eager to split the cost of the fence and now he refuses. Guess we need to see if they have any laws in Mississippi to cover it.
     
  4. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The surveyors will use a satelite, so brush and trees in the way isn't really an issue. They will probably put a mark near the road, and another further in. That is all they will do. I'm sure for more money they will put in more markers.
     
  5. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering just what the surveyors will do as far as markings. We have well marked (surveyed) corner posts at each end of the 1200 feet. You of course can't see from one corner post to the other because of the trees and brush. Need some sort of guidance as to where the line is as we are building the fence from one end to the other.

    Wayne
     
  6. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Wayne;

    That business about a post every ten feet is bunk. Unless you have large animals pushing the fence daily you need nothing of the sort.

    What you do need is well-braced corners; two large posts forming a corner and its brace post with its brace between. If you are running fence both ways from the corner you will have three of these posts and two braces.

    A post (wood or steel) every 20 feet to support the wire, well stretched. Then put three twisted wire stays (sold where barbed wire is sold) between each post.

    Such a fence will last 25 or 30 years, and it will hold bulls. If you put a post every ten feet the cattle will simply stick their heads between the wires and push. If you use stays the fence moves and tends to barb the animal trying to stick its head thru.

    Twelve hundred feet is a bit too far for one stretch. I'd put another set of brace posts at the 600 feet mark.

    Remember I said the fence will HOLD bulls; it will not contain two bulls fighting across it. The only thing that will prevent two fighting bulls from tearing down ANY fence is a hot wire.

    Ox
     
  7. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, please keep them coming. A few more questions as I think through this thing.

    I don't have any telephone poles or railroad ties for the corner and halfway brace posts. Should I buy some railroad ties for this, or are there actual fence "posts" one can purchase? If so, what type of wood are they made of, what are the rough dimensions and how long do they need to be?

    We plan on using the post hole attachment on the back of the tractor to dig the wood post holes. How deep do we go, and what do we backfill the holes with on the NON-corner or half-way wood brace posts?

    The two corner posts and the two half-way wood brace posts should be in concrete or not?

    We just use regular old steel T-posts for the other posts, correct? If I want a 4' fence then do I use 6' t-posts? The ground does not seem overly hard in this area, but I have not done a real close inspection yet. I've got a couple t-post drivers around here that we can use.

    What sequence should be used to erect the fence? Should we set ALL the posts before stringing any wire? Or should we set some posts, string some wire, and work along that way?

    Should we work from one corner post to the other, or set the half-way brace posts and work from each end to the half-way posts?

    When you string the wire do you do one strand at a time, or all four? When you stretch the wire, do you stretch it only from the wood post to the next wood post, and then just secure the wire to the t-posts in between, after it is stretched and secured between the wood posts? Do people generally use fence stretching tools on jobs like this? Is that pretty much the only way to get a tight fence?

    We are thinking that it might be a good idea to put a gate somewhere near the middle of the run along this fence line between the two properties. No sure if we would ever need to use it but it might come in handy some day for access between our property and the neighbors? Or, if it's not that big of deal to put in a gate after the fact then maybe we won't bother.

    Thanks for the help
    Wayne
     
  8. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    If you're going to be running horses on the property, I'd be very cautious about using barbed wire. It's inexpensive and largely effective, but can easily injure or kill a horse that gets caught in it. However, if you're not interested in running horses, and your neighbor is, and he doesn't want to use barbed wire, you shouldn't have to bear the extra expense of horse fencing, IMHO. I'd figure the cost of the barbed wire fence and offer to pay half of that. They can pick up the difference between what you require and what they require.

    That said, I've seen LOTS of horse boundary fencing that is nothing more than four strands of wide poly electric tape. It makes a nice visual barrier for horses but may not meet the state standards. Can you call a permit guy to find out about boundary fencing suitable for horses? If you wind up having to use the 2x4 no-climb horse mesh, be prepared to pay through the nose!

    Railroad ties are the best for corner posts. They last just about forever and are very, very sturdy. You will, of course, want to brace them.

    For your technical questions, you really should go to the library and pick up a book. That will give you the most accurate information. For example, I think I recall that you should have wooden H-braces about every 300 feet, and wooden line posts every 50 feet or so, with metal posts in between. But that will depend on the type of fencing you're using, and besides, this is all from distant memory. A good book is Fences for Pasture and Garden by Gail Damerow.
     
  9. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The way our fenceline was laid out was by running a strand of barbed wire from one corner marker to the other. Of course, this was across cleared land so I'm not sure if you can do this where there's a lot of undergrowth.

    The poles we used as corner posts were set in concrete and some of those things are huge...much bigger around than a railroad cross tie. Inexpensive too...$4 each from a local guy.

    It is a good idea to put in a gate in case of fire, fence maintenance, etc.
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A gate is fairly easy to add on a wooden post later. I would put a wood post whereever a gate is wanted; but if you have no need & neighbor does not want, I would skip putting the gate in at this time. If this is a boundry fence to keep neighbors & people apart, less gates is better......

    Now, with a good neighbor that I was working with, I'd want the gate right away..... Guess that will depend on you - if I can read between the lines you are heading off issues down the road and this is more of a people fence, so skip the gate but allow for it to be added easily?

    For marking property, the 2 posts on the ends are the important ones, the rest of the fence isn't. The law you quote apears to be an old livestock fencing guide so people build good enough fences to control cattle. Modern high-tensile fencing can be done with 1/2 as many posts and be actually stronger fence for less money.... But what you are listing will work fine for 1/4 mile of fence and the cost difference is low.

    Here in Minnesota we try not to set a wood post in concrete - it will rot faster in crete. In other locations, seems all they do is use crete around every post and works for them.... Would not 'here'.

    You can buy treated posts, but they really are not as good as they cost these days.... Many locations have a native wood, like locust or hedge, that will last a long time in the ground. Don't know which applies to you. Telephone poles seem to last longer than RR ties - typically a RR tie is well used up by the time we can get to them, where a telephone pole is still pretty good.

    Typically tamp the same dirt you dug out of the hole around the post after you set it in the hole. Put in a shovel or 3, poke the dirt down with a rod or metal post to pack it, add more dirt, repeat.... In my clay soils, gravel only lets the water set around the post, doesn't really help 'drain'. Concrete forces the water to sit in the post, and the concrete will crack when it freezes. So, simple - put the dirt back around & call it good. Need to get 3' deep here, little more would be great with our deep frost & very soft spring conditions. Other climates might have other concerns?

    I try to lay a straight wire between the posts I can see, set the posts in using that wire as a guide, and then run the other wires. But I typically have good line of site for my posts, hope you get better ideas from others.

    6' steel T posts would be what I use.

    Stretch one at a time. I've used the tool, pulled with a tractor, used a lever to pull it around the post..... In any case, be careful - busted wire is very nasty & will ball up on you & encase you & turn you into hamburger - raw shreds. Truely, be careful on this.

    You can do 'either or' on many of your questions, depending on the tools & supplies you have on hand. No one way to get this done. :)

    --->Paul
     
  11. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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  12. RMShepp

    RMShepp Active Member

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    Since I am a surveyor by profession, let me suggest that asking the company that did the work previously is a good idea. The price is usually based on the amount of time to do the job times the surveyor's hourly rate. You can't do surveying by satellite in the woods. That's a myth. Do get survey grade GPS signals you need a clear view of the sky. So there will be some cutting necessary. If the surveyor has already previously surveyed the property he, or she will have established “survey control” which may still be available to use and will save a lot of time. Good luck
     
  13. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    RM,
    What do the survey folks usually do for establishing line markers? Do they put a marker every so many feet along the line? What kind of marker do they use, same type as the corners? The two corner markers are fine and we will try to get the same company to do the line markers.

    Sounds like we should try to clear the line before the surveyors get there? How should we go about determining where the line probably will be? GPS, some sort of triangulation method? The property is a quite a mixture of undergrowth, pasture, and tree stands, and drainage ditch.

    Wayne
     
  14. RMShepp

    RMShepp Active Member

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    It really depends on the situation and what the client wants. If the site is heavily wooded and brushy, I would recommend permanent metal markers. They are more expensive, but will last indefinitely. You and those who come after you likely won’t have to do it again soon. Wooden stakes are cheaper, but are temporary and can easily be destroyed.

    As for the clearing, if your neighbor is cooperative, I’d have the surveyor rough mark the line for clearing. These initial markers won’t be precise enough for building a fence, but will be close enough to show you where to clear. You can try a hand held GPS unit; but despite the ads to the contrary, unless you buy a mapping grade unit which cost several thousand dollars, you will only be accurate within 10-35 feet. So you stand the risk of clearing a lot that you don’t need to, or worse clearing in the wrong place altogether and having to do it over.

    I’d find a surveyor you want to work with and have a frank conversation about what you are trying to accomplish and how much you can spend.