TAK­ING FENC­ING TO THE FRONT LINE IN DE­SIGN

Your bound­ary line has be­come a se­ri­ous style con­tender, writes

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The ba­sic logic of a front fence is to en­close your ter­ri­tory. It marks the bound­ary be­tween where the street ends and your pri­vate prop­erty be­gins.

But in the past decade, the role of the front fence has been el­e­vated be­yond one of im­plied pri­vacy to some­thing far grander.

The bound­ary line is now marked by su­per-sized fences in elab­o­rate dis­plays of stacked stone or com­plex hor­ti­cul­tural dis­plays and high walls.

For many, it’s all about pri­vacy, and in a city where land pock­ets are small, this makes a lot of sense. But there’s also the con­nec­tion be­tween the house and the street to con­sider. And choos­ing the right ma­te­ri­als to suit your house can be tricky.

Keep­ing it real

There are so many front fence styles to choose from, but the old chain link fenc­ing has def­i­nitely had its day.

Owner of End 2 End Fenc­ing, Tony Lobasso, has worked with many dif­fer­ent fenc­ing ma­te­ri­als and styles for cre­at­ing front fences over the past decade, and says heavy met­als and tim­bers are mak­ing way for alu­minium.

“Un­less you are build­ing a new house, you only start to think about put­ting up a new fence when the old one is start­ing to fall down and past its use-by date,” says Tony.

Even when home­own­ers are re­plac­ing a front fence on a clas­sic fed­er­a­tion or Art Deco home, the pref­er­ence is to brick up the col­umns and width of the fence to a half­way point, then add alu­minium in be­tween, keep­ing costs down.

Tony says not only do the mixed use ma­te­ri­als give the home a her­itage feel, but the use of alu­minium has be­come al­most stan­dard in his in­dus­try as home­own­ers look for a ma­te­rial that can with­stand the el­e­ments while still be­ing low main­te­nance.

“A lot of peo­ple that I speak to just want a fence that is low main­te­nance,” he says.

“They don’t want to have to paint the fence year after year, and this is just an eas­ier op­tion.”

The NSW Depart­ment of Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­ment stip­u­lates that the front fence should be a max­i­mum of 1.2m high with a gate that opens in­ward. This is the stan­dard that can be built with­out plan­ning or build­ing ap­proval in res­i­den­tial zones, al­though coun­cils are of­ten open to dis­cus­sion around height.

They will also be in­ter­ested in the ma­te­ri­als you want to use to con­struct it.

This is es­pe­cially the case in her­itage con­ser­va­tion ar­eas where there are of­ten a more lim­ited range of styles avail­able.

“The av­er­age height is about one me­tre, but I have worked on front fences that are up to 1.8m high,” says Tony.

“Peo­ple just want to main­tain their pri­vacy and for their home to feel se­cure.”

Cal­i­for­nian bun­ga­low

This style (above) peaked in the 1920s, with tim­ber floors, win­dow frames and doors and dou­ble brick con­struc­tion. A picket fence works well, or pan­elling be­tween brick pil­lars.

The front fence acts like a frame for your house so choose wisely.

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