A Cheaper Way To Fix A Fence

With the ongoing projects to liven up the front and back gardens, there was one particular job we had to do first and had been putting off for while…..a long while.

Embarrassingly, we have not had a fence on one side of the back garden for nearly a year, so it was finally time to fix it.  As we are not DIY experts ourselves,  we  thought we’d share how we did it to outline the process we used and the costs involved.

Initial thoughts

We originally thought of tearing the remaining sections down and putting in gravel boards (concrete bases) all the way along so that the panels just slide in and out. After getting an idea on the costs for this (up to £1200 for 10 6ft panels worth), we realised that might be a project for the future. Now we would just replace the missing sections for a short to mid-term fix.

Now, we just thought we’d get someone in to repair the fence like for like, but again the costs were higher than we thought and pushing the £300 – £350 mark to do this, so we were reluctantly coming to the conclusion that we may have to do it ourselves. What could go wrong?

When I say “ourselves”, we were extremely lucky to have a friend that used to be a fencer, so he came along and gave us a much needed hand.

Materials & Tools:

  • 4 x 6ft waney lap panels
  • 2 x 8ft 4×4 (inches) wooden posts
  • 24 brass screws.
  • A grafter
  • Shovel
  • Drill & drill bits
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Gloves, safety glasses
  • Possibly a wheel barrow
  • 20kg bag of Postcrete – we used one bag per post

Things to check before you start

  1. Before doing anything, check if the fence is actually yours to fix
  2. If a completely new section of fence, who has which side? Some panels may be perceived to have a good and bad side.

Always best to chat to the neighbours anyway before you start to make sure everything is O.K.
As my friend had the grafter, spirit level,  drills and drill bits, we only paid for materials, which came to £124 (including free fence delivery).

The Process

  • For a guideline we placed a screw in the posts at either end of the section we had to fix and tied a bit of string around them to give us a line on where the boundaries for the fence should be.  It was pretty evident on our case as the marks on the floor from the existing fence were still shown.
  • First we tackled the first fence that was down. This still had 2 stable posts either side and still pretty straight and level, so simply meant drilling 3 pilot holes (top, middle and bottom) in the sides of the fence panel to accommodate the screws.  We used the screws shown below for this project.

  • Next we positioned the panel in the middle of the 2 posts and we checked to see how it was sitting.  Was it level?  At the first attempt, it wasn’t, as we checked with the spirit level, so we took the shovel and removed a little more dirt and repeated the process.  This time it was perfect, so simply drilled 3 screws through the pilot holes into the posts.

  • Point to highlight is that we were matching the existing fence that was already at the property, so we were setting the panels to same height in relation to the posts where the levels of the garden allowed.  See picture below.
  • We also followed the same side of the waney lap fence panels as the existing fence (slats pointing up)

Tip

When placing the fence panel and trying to get the height perfect in relation to the post, we would put the shovel under the panel and lean on the handle to lift it a fraction to then drill into place.

  • On to the back breaking bit.  Removing the concrete and remaining rotten wood from the previous post.
  • For this we used a grafter which essentially is a very long (various sizes, but ours was), strong and heavy digging tool that we kept driving in to the ground around the existing concrete and post until we’d broken it all up and removed it. 

There’s no getting away from it, this is  the toughest, most physical part of the process and is why you save the money not paying someone else to do it.  Not insurmountable though and worth it in the end when you’ve completed it yourself and saved money.

Tip

Wear gloves and safety glasses for this part as things can fly up and “office worker”hands can get sore quickly, like ours did!  We didn’t have a picture of our grafter, so just put a link here (not affiliate) to show you what one looked like.

Premier Sheds grafter image

  • Once the previous concrete/ wood have been removed and the hole is deep enough for the new post to go into (and a suitable area around for the postcrete to make it sturdy) just double check that post will be going in exactly the right spot by measuring 6ft from the previous post. Our holes we had made were 2ft deep (leaving 6ft of post above) and around 10 – 15cm.
  • If the hole is a little too deep, just push some of the earth that has been removed back in and make sure you bash down with the post to firm it up until it’s at the required height.
  • Now fill a 3rd of the hole with water and pour the postcrete (1x 20kg bag per post) in until there is no surface water visible.  The first hole we dug was a little too big and consequently meant we had too much water, which meant the mixture took longer than 5 mins to go off.
  • All through this process, we ensured with a spirit level that the post was square both from left and right and front to back.  Hold it in place until the postcrete has hardened off sufficiently to let go.  Once fully hardened, fix the fence panel between the posts as before.

The last panel

  • As we were fixing panels in between an existing fence, the last panel was the most awkward.  Where we’d got everything level and straight on the new bits on fence, sadly the old sections weren’t as square.  We had to cut off some excess/ protruding bits of wood off of both sides of the new panel, lift it into place (as the base section of the existing post was out) and push the panel into place, using quite a bit of force.

Admittedly, I had a lot of help from someone who knew what they were doing and had the tools needed, but for 3 hours of hard work and £124, the fence is fixed and hopefully will stay that way for a fair while yet.  If we ever need to do it again, we’ll have a better idea what we need to do, if we decide to it again ourselves.

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