Monday, June 13, 2011

On the Fence - the Sequel

Forgive the lack of posting, there's been lots of updating going on around here but I've been lacking the motivation to post about it.  It actually took about an hour to write that previous sentence after opening this browser window, eek.

You may remember that one of my first posts right before we closed on the house almost four months ago (!) detailed some of the changes we planned to make to the front of the house.  Two of the big budget items on our list were replacing the garage door, which wasn't functioning and probably wasn't worth fixing, and replacing that awful front fence.

We'd planned to tear down the termite-infested fence right when we moved in, but got a little sidetracked.  We definitely wanted to use a professional for this project - although I'm sure we could have figured it out on our own eventually and saved some money, it definitely wasn't worth the hassle when we could hire a trained professional.  Not to mention that there was probably about a 70-80% chance that our home built fence would probably have looked super crooked and weird.  And installing our own garage door?  Yeah, I don't think so.

Once we picked out a contractor it took a few weeks to get a quote and get moving, so we finally started construction a little over a month ago.  First on the agenda was the new garage door.  Since the old garage door was about 1.5 car size and we own more than 1.5 cars, we decided to expand the opening to see if we could squeeze in a bigger door.  Luckily, there was a little room to expand on each side of the door.  It looked kinda cute (if somewhat dilapidated), but we thought being able to park 2 cars in the garage would be cuter:

Now, I've learned to really not stress out about a contractor's schedule, because things seem to just get done...whenever.  The contractor was able to get in right away and start the expansion, but the garage door guy wasn't available until the next week.  Why they didn't figure this out ahead of time is beyond me, but like I said, trying not to stress out about these things.  So, for a week, this is the lovely sight that greeted us each time we drove up to the house:

Nothing says classy like a plywood garage door!
Same goes with the fence.  After the original fence was torn down, they were nice enough to build another super classy temporary fence to keep the dogs in during construction.  Once it was up it stayed up for a little longer than I would have liked while they poured concrete for the fence posts, waited for it to dry, and then I think waited a few more days just for good measure.

It was amazing what a difference it made to not have a 6-foot fence surrounding the property.  I'm honestly not sure we would have bought the house without it.  We're on a fairly busy road, and it just felt very open and exposed not having a fence out front.  Maybe it's just because we're used to it, because lots of the houses on our street don't have fences and seem fine with it, but it just felt very, very strange.  It felt weird that anyone could just walk right up to our house, although I suppose that's how the majority of houses are, I've just gotten used to living in a compound.

After a few days, the fence builder settled in, along with an endless supply of Christian rock blasting from his boombox (true story), and things started to take shape:

And theeeeen - after weeks of construction and tweaking and waiting and more construction...

We have a new fence and garage!  Let's take a look at where we started, shall we?

I probably should have tried to take these pictures at the same angle, oops.  I'm also wondering how we managed to let that patch of grass out front die so quickly?

Here's some more redwood eye candy.

I actually don't love the look of redwood, but we've been told it's the way to go in Southern California since termites don't like to eat it.  I'm hoping it will look less uneven and stripey once we stain it.

We still obviously have a look of work to do as far as the super uneven brick and bleak landscaping.  There's also a few touch ups left to do on the fence and garage.  I want to paint the metal post supports because although they're super sturdy, I think they kinda stick out and look a little too industrial.  We also need a mailbox cover slot thingy, so I ordered this baby from Amazon and she's on her way to us as we speak.

Oh, and we're going to stain the whole thing eventually to a darker color.  The quote from the contractor was a little ridiculous so I think we're going to attempt the staining ourselves, and see how it goes.  I've read that you're supposed to wait for the wood to...I don't know...settle? a little before staining so I think we'll do that.  Plus we've been kinda lazy lately so waiting to stain the fence just seems like a good idea.

So, that's the biggest update we've had going.  We're digging the results.  I was a little worried at first because we didn't give the contractor too much guidance, which I think is something we need to work on in the future.  I think we're both so used to trying to be nice and accommodating we forget that we're entitled to be picky when we are paying someone a ton of money to work on our home.  It's also tough sometimes to make a decision and have  design plan when it seems like there's 15 projects going on at once and we want to keep moving forward.  The only thing I would maybe change would be to make the supports on top of the fence thinner, although I suppose this is a fairly easy fix.  I like the way it is now and it's probably sturdier, so we'll probably leave it as-is for now.  I'm hoping it'll all come together when we put on a coat of dark stain and put the finishing touches on.

I was just looking back at my original fence post, where I said I was hoping to spend under $1,000 on the new fence.  Ha!  I've learned that it's totally hard to predict construction prices when you've never done this kind of stuff before.  How the heck am I supposed to know how much wood costs?!?  The total ended up ringing up at $2,000 for the fence after some haggling.  The main fence is about 28 feet long, and I later learned that $50 and up per linear foot is pretty standard for a custom fence.  The $2,000 figure included taking down the old fence and removing all the trash, so we're pretty happy with the cost.  This was something we knew we'd have to do when we bought the house, so we budgeted for the cost and it wasn't completely unexpected.

And so ends the first chapter of our curb appeal saga.  Stay tuned for more!


  1. Hey, I just stumbled here from a comment you left on Young House Love. As a fellow home owner in LA (I'm in the valley), just thought I would say hello. I'm loving the few posts I looked at so far (and your house reminds me of mine!), so I'm all subscribed now and will definitely be back. :)

  2. Thanks for checking in Lindsay! Great to hear from a fellow SoCal homeowner - we're in West LA. I love old school LA homes, despite their quirks :-)