The terrible fence erected by the gas station hurt my brain every single time I looked at it. Through the winter, strong winds pushed it around. Since the 4 x 4 posts ARE NOT EVEN SET INTO ANYTHING the winds loosened up the weakest points. It was built at the end of August 2018. By Feb. 2019, the fence looked like this:
Only the unused vintage light post stopped it from falling over completely:
The guy who built the fence was bullied into making some kind of repairs, none of which could fix the lack of structural integrity.
Suddenly in June, part of the fence was disassembled. I had some hope that a properly constructed fence would be put up in its place.
The same guy who built the fence took the fence apart. I gave him the name of the posthole place I had previously used, and said the fence needed properly set posts. A gap was left in the fence, which exposed part of my backyard, which made me nervous. I screwed up part of a sheet of plywood to at least make access more difficult. After 10 days or so, work on the fence resumed.
Gas station’s solution: have the guy who made the terrible fence reassemble it in exactly the same way, but with gigantic 3″ screws this time. And a couple of extra boards. And a little more duct strapping to secure it to the 4′ former chain link posts, now augmented with another piece of post inside that one:
No concept of the “good neighbour side” here.
London, unlike other civilized municipalities, makes no mention in the fence or property standards bylaw that the structure of the fence must be stable ! This is what the City of Ottawa’s Property Standards document says, for example:
“Section 10 – Fences and other enclosures
(1) Fences, retaining walls and other enclosures around or on a residential property shall be kept,
(a) in good repair;
(b) free from accident hazards;
(c) protected by paint, preservatives, or other weather resistant material, except for wooden fences made of cedar, redwood or treated wood;
(d) so as not to present an unsightly appearance;
(f) vertical, unless specifically designed to be other than vertical as in the case of retaining walls; and
(g) free of barbed wire ”
The City of London is not Ottawa, though.
The 3″ screws poked through the boards in my direction, in a most alarming fashion.
I contacted the same posthole place I previously used, to inquire about how close to the retaining wall posts could be set on my side. The guy who came to quote was baffled by the fence the gas station built.
It was possible for the station to have posts professionally set into the asphalt surface on the gas station’s side, so I wasn’t just imagining an unworkable solution. It would also be possible for posts to be set very close to the retaining wall, on my side. HOWEVER – due to the difference in elevation (close to 48″), I would be breaking the fence bylaw to erect my own fence as tall as the gas station’s mediocre one. To build my own law-breaking-fence would easily cost close to $ 3000.00 including materials and labour. The city could force me to modify or remove the non-conforming potential fence.
I couldn’t look out my dining room, kitchen or back porch windows without seething at their fence atrocity. Walking out the front door was a little less bad, but it still wasn’t a neutral sight.
I pondered what could be done. The fence was so unstable it made no sense to attach some sort of covering like a trellis. I planted Smoke Bushes in the front, in 2017, but they will take 8 – 10 years to be tall and full enough to obscure the fence.
Painting my side seemed like an exercise in futility. There would be no way to control the drips onto their side. This was a labour intensive solution, and even the blackest paint could not obscure the fence’s obvious deficits.
I pursued information on the fastest growing hedge, vines and trees. For anything to grow 10 feet tall, to reach to the top of the fence, to densely obscure the offensive construction would take years to grow. Quick “solutions” like planting tall cedars were fairly expensive, and unreliable. I stared hard at all the local hedges I encountered, then looked backwards via Streetview to see how long they took to attain their height.
I wondered about hanging up some sort of privacy cloth. Proper canvas for exterior applications – like awnings – is made from acrylic, which has decent UV protection against fading and rot. This lasts for about 5 years until it starts to deteriorate. I priced various cloth options. The 6′ fence height meant that cloth would need to be horizontally pieced to make it wide enough. This volume of cloth, soaking wet from rain or snow, also gets heavy. I calculated that I would need 30 yards to cover their fence.
I noticed an ad for recycled billboard tarps. They were HUGE – 14 x 48′. They were printed on one side, and opaque black on the reverse. The vinyl was UV resistant and reinforced with fibers to strengthen it. This made me think. I went and looked at it once, then went back a second time to buy one. Each tarp weighs 40 lbs, and they are unwieldy. Even black plastic would be better to look at than the ghastly fence. This was the least expensive ( $ 80.00) and least labour intensive option.
It was nerve wracking marking and cutting the tarp. I didn’t have a space large enough to lay out the entire thing (ie trees and bushes in my yard) so I unrolled smaller sections and measured twice. I stitched the edges and installed grommets.
It was impossible to make the tarp sections lay flat due to the bizarre construction. I did what I could to make it presentable:
The backyard had the worst, most seasick fence construction. I didn’t love installing the tarp, or the lack of smoothness, but my brain felt so much quieter not seeing the awful fence:
The tarp is screwed to the fence, so it is completely removable. To install the sections meant standing on an extension ladder, with my weight leaning on the fence. To say this felt precarious is an understatement.
One small unexpected bonus of the tarps was the amount of lught they blocked. I was surprised to see how much light infiltrated between the fence boards. This is with the section to to the left covered, with two sections left to go:
The redaction is a far from perfect solution but it is an improvement.
Now if only there was some kind of code or bylaw about commercial neighbours adjacent to a residence, light pollution, privacy, sound control and basic building code ???