Before jumping right into a fencing or wall project by hiring a professional, it’s important to get the process sorted out. As a homeowner or property owner, you need to plan ahead and make some important decisions beginning with the purpose, and moving on to the budget, material selections, legal obligations and design before hiring the services of a contractor to execute the project.

Modular Walls has created a 5-step process to simplify a fencing or walling project, ensuring the final outcome meets with your expectations and budget considerations.

Step 1: What exactly do you need and what do you need it for?

Establish your motivation and intent for initiating the project. Your primary reason for building the wall or fence will determine many aspects of the planning process to follow. Some of the most common reasons for a fence or wall include increasing safety and security and preventing trespassing; privacy; boundary demarcation; decoration; creating a safe area for pets and children; and enclosing a pool.

Step 2: Think about size, style and materials, and set yourself a budget.

Moving on to the next step, you’ll have to finalise a few aspects such as how big it will be; what it will be made from; what you want it to look like; what you want it to say about you; and how much you can afford to spend on it.

Initial ideas about the size and style of the wall or fence, as well as the materials it will be constructed from, will usually be determined by its purpose. Here’s a basic overview of the sizes, styles and materials for your consideration:

Safety and privacy walls are the tallest and sturdiest types. They’re tall and solid enough to screen your home and provide privacy, and/or deter trespassing. When safety and privacy are your primary objectives, it’s usually best to choose sturdy materials such as brick or modular walls.

When it comes to boundary walls and fences between properties, you will need to discuss and negotiate with your neighbours about the height and material choice. These fences or walls can be quite tall, but not so much as to completely block views on either side. Materials can include steel, vinyl and timber, as well as brick and modular walls, with the final choice depending on how much each party can spend and what matches the architectural aesthetic of both homes.

Decorative walls and fences are usually not as tall as safety, privacy or boundary structures. Mostly ornamental in style, decorative fencing can really be made from any material with common options including decorative wrought iron and picket fencing. There’s room to get creative when the purpose of the wall or fence is strictly aesthetic; you also have an excellent opportunity to consider solutions that reflect your personal style.

Enclosure fences, such as those surrounding pools, must usually meet minimum height regulations as stated by your local council. They can be made of materials such as aluminium or even chain-link metal; as long as your preferred materials are council approved, they can be matched to your desired design.

Various aspects of your property will need to be considered before selecting the most suitable fence or wall option. These include retaining capabilities for garden beds or stepped blocks; site access issues such as a narrow/steep driveway or close proximity to a pool/steep drop; location in close proximity to a busy highway or playground raising noise issues; or exposure to climatic extremes such as high winds or bushfire threat.

Your research for fencing or wall materials will be guided by these considerations. All of the above factors will also have an impact on your budget. Get quotes for materials from multiple suppliers for the best deals.

Step 3: Check local council regulations and notify your neighbours.

Most councils impose restrictions on construction in homes and backyards – particularly wall and fencing structures. Familiarise yourself with your council’s rules and regulations regarding aspects such as residential height, style and positioning, and, very importantly, whether you need to give notification that you are building a new structure or that you need formal approval.

Getting your neighbour’s nod for your fencing or walling plans will prevent any kind of conflict in future. Even if the fence or wall won’t impact your neighbours or their property, it’s common courtesy to let them know in advance. If you have any difficulties with your neighbours when you notify them of your project, check out our comprehensive guide to fencing disputes, which might help you resolve the issue.

Step 4: Draw up a plan

Now that you have all the basics in place, it’s time to call in a contractor to quote for the project. It would help if you draw up some basic plans containing basic information such as an overhead view of the perimeter you want your fence to cover; indication of gate openings; unique characteristics such as trees, concrete slabs, loose soil and uneven or sloping ground; dimensions of various elements; and elevations and ground slope.

The more detail you provide, the better it will be for the contractor to give you a precise quote. However, to ensure you’re not wasting your time, double check if the installer would prefer to handle the measurements themselves after the initial briefing.

Step 5: Get in touch with a contractor for a quote

Once you have your plans in place, it’s time to get in touch with an expert who can provide a quote for the work that needs to be done. Trust a professional to do justice to the job instead of experimenting with it as a DIY project.

Shop around for the best quotes, and research the contractors’ background, work experience and reputation. Ask if they provide a free, no obligation quote – if they do, have them come over, and measure and share their suggestions with you. By comparing quotes, you can be sure you’re getting a fair deal, making you feel more confident about the options available.

Once you have a few quotes, do a comparative analysis of the total cost as well as the quality and durability of materials, and the reputation and inputs of the installer, to make a balanced and informed decision. Remember, the cheapest or the most expensive quote needn’t necessarily be the best pricing for your project.