Fences

If there is a fence on the property that you are inspecting, you should check its overall condition. The problems encountered with fences are normally not major and are usually not costly to correct. However, you might find a fence that has deteriorated to a point where it needs complete rehabilitation or replacement.

Wood fences should be inspected for cracked, broken, loose, and missing sections. In addition, they should be checked for deterioration from rot and termite infestation. (Termites and rot are discussed in chapter 8.) The gates for the fence should also be checked for cracked, loose, or broken sections and ease of operation. Wooden gates often sag as they age and require periodic maintenance.

Metal fences should be inspected for rusting, loose, and deteriorated sections. Rusting sections should be scraped, primed, and painted. Chain link fences are generally constructed of galvanized steel. Galvanizing (zinc coating) protects the steel against rusting and is usually applied by hot dipping or electroplating. The hot-dipped process produces a heavy zinc coating that is very effective, in contrast to the thin coating produced by electroplating. Chain link fences that have been galvanized by electroplating have a tendency to rust and require periodic maintenance. Some chain link fences have a vinyl coating that protects against rust. The vinyl coating is quite effective and lasts for many years.

If there is an in-ground swimming pool on the property, there should be a fence around the pool area. Most communities have an ordinance requiring a fence of a specific height as a protective barrier. If you do not see a fence around a pool area, you should check the requirements with the municipal building department; otherwise, you might find after buying the house that you are legally obliged to install one.

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