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house blog

projects around the house


a fence, finally.

jenn pan

when we last left you in SEPTEMBER, we had just pulled up the bougainvillea plants adjacent to the chainlink fence in preparation for a replacement redwood fence. it took some time to get scheduled, but we finally got a date of october 28 for the installation. we were so excited. above and below are a reminder of what the chainlink looked like before anything went down.

hello, neighbors! 

the other thing we had to do before the fence was installed was pick and purchase the stain we wanted on the redwood. the fence installation company charges for stain at-cost, so we also had the option of buying our own. we bought a redwood two-by-four, cut it down to four equal pieces and tested penofin's ultra premium red label transparent wood stain in western red cedar, redwood, sable and sierra. sierra felt too orange, and sable too dark and somewhat splotchy. the red cedar and redwood were very close, but redwood won out because it was a bit less yellow. we bought three gallons of the paint from local paint store jill's and were SO ready to have an awesome new fence!

the installation for this project was supposed to be three days: dig holes and install footers and posts on the first day, and put up the horizontal wood board and stain the next two. nothing to it, right?


an hour after we left our house, we got a call from the installers that a city inspector had come by and because we didn't have a permit, they had to stop the work. according to all of our prior research, anything less than six feet tall didn't require a permit. apparently, that particular code had recently changed to anything less than 18 INCHES now requires a permit. so, this is what we came home to:

the only work they had done before the inspector showed up was the digging of three holes and their posts, as well as the removal of the random partial chainlink. and this was how the side of the house continued to look until after the new year. why? let's talk about it.

skip the copious amounts of text to the next photo if you don't want to do any heavy reading...


we went and got the permit from the city. everyone was super nice and helpful, but the process was kind of crazy. because the fence is something on the exterior of the house and visible from the street, it could require a design review. this is a minimum of $3,000. and it involves sending a public notice to everyone who lives within a certain radius of the house to make sure no one has any objections. if the change one is making is minor enough, or deemed to not require such a crazy process by the city, then the permit can be "design review exempt". however, the signature alone for something to be design review exempt is $300. lesson learned: when we decide to do anything to the exterior of the house (including changing out windows) apply for it all at once to potentially minimize the cost! 

the other crazy bit is that we had to show in the plan that the fence would be, in its entirety, on our property. it is possible to have a fence straight down the property line, but that would require a common wall agreement with the other property owner, and that paperwork starts at $2,000. anyway, we made the proper adjustments to all the plans, got buy offs from design review, engineering, walked over to the department of water and power building to get buyoffs from both electrical and water (since holes were going to be dug), back to the permit office for final building review and THEN finally paid for the permit. which came out to over $600. we paid over $900 that day because we decided to also just get the permits for the doors at the same time, to be safe.


so at this point, you would think we could move forward, right? well, there was a bit more confusion. we couldn't just have the fence guys come back and finish everything - for fence installations, the city also requires a footing inspection before any additional work can be done. we would need the installers to come back, and finish digging all of the holes, as well as remove the posts they had already put in and redig those holes as well. to be extra safe, we called the inspectors office to see what the stipulations are for passing that inspection, and they said a survey would be required to show that all of the footing was entirely on our property. we inquired a few companies and a single property line survey would cost at least $1,500.


by chance, while walking sanford, i discovered our property markers on the side of the house (we're a corner house). and lo and behold, also found one on the property line in question! what a huge weight off our chest! however, this was right before the holidays and between our travel plans and the installers schedule, we wouldn't be able to get back on the schedule for awhile.


this was the day the installers were supposed to come back and pull up the posts and dig the remaining holes. however, we got a ton of rain, and they had to postpone. moving along..


this one wasn't even scheduled! we just came home and found our side yard looking like this:

who called CSI?

they came and dug the holes!! total ninjas. we were pretty stoked. time to call the city to do the footing inspection.


footing inspection PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we can finish the fence! this took more scheduling..


posts, round two. still looks like a crime scene, but we're making progress.

view from our front porch.


the put in the wood posts and filled the last inch of the holes. and this is why i love our installers, they even put in a form so that it went exactly to the property line. they even had time to start putting up the redwood boards on our side!

taking shape.



IT'S DONE! all the boards are up on both sides, and stained beautifully! we're seriously in love with this fence.

we didn't want it to be too imposing, so once it passes our porch, it goes from being a 6' fence to a 42" fence.

which ends in a cute new gate with black hardware.

isn't it adorbs?

now we have a great enclosed area off the side of the house. we're hoping to turn this into both an outdoor entertaining space (just off the kitchen) as well as a nice area that sanford can run around in (thus the gate).

we're infatuated with the final product. we are so appreciative of flavio and his team from five star fence for the attention to detail and stellar job they did, and for working with us through the whole, crazy process.

but we still need to pass final inspection. 

DAY ???