Renovation & Design

Collaboration is always cause for celebration

Team effort helps overcome fence issues

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

The old fence which had been completely removed (posts and sections), was painstakingly re-erected using a protocol established in collaboration with the landscaping crew.

Once the holes are drilled, the posts are pre-mounted onto the fence sections before being lowered into the hole, whereby gravel is used to adjust height and plumb/level.

The Fontaine Lanscaping Inc. crew on site readies a fence section before establishing post hole locations.

A backyard renovation that involves the introduction of an in-ground pool, landscaping, a new deck, and a few pergolas, must be well-planned in advanced. Although coordinating the sub-trades can be a challenge, there is a logical order to the process. And because the pool had been installed the previous fall, the homeowner was anxious this spring to hasten the landscaping schedule to accommodate the many structures I would be building throughout.

Fortunately, the landscaping company that had been hired was on my radar over the years, and came highly recommended. J. P. Fontaine, President of Fontaine Landscaping Inc. is an extremely pleasant fellow, ready to shift his crew’s activities to tailor to my building needs.

Although the homeowner had mentioned last fall that the in-ground pool installation had required a portion of the fence to be temporarily removed, one of my first tasks would be to re-establish the panels of fencing, and construct a new wooden gate to satisfy the safety requirements of owning an in-ground pool.

Unbeknownst to me until arriving on site this spring, the displaced fence “section” the homeowner had alluded to was more than just a few panels – it was roughly 100 feet of fence line that divided her property and the neighbours’, including a dozen or so posts that had been completely removed as well, to allow the excavator unencumbered passage into the backyard when prepping the ground for the pool installation. Although I had assured the homeowner the fence would go back up easily, could it really be done?

Upon discussing the issue with Fontaine and his crew, we had all ascertained that in all the years of building, none of us had attempted reinstalling an old fence, whereby the posts had also been removed from the ground. However, the fence would need to be back up before all landscaping could be completed. In the spirit of efficiency, I quickly suggested a plausible protocol to get this fence back up, and a collaboration was at hand. Unlike erecting a new fence, whereby the distance between freshly set posts dictates the length of each fence section, it would be the old sections that would dictate exactly where the posts would need to be set. This was a huge obstacle and required a reversal of the standard fence installation process.

Luckily, the third party that had removed the fence last fall, prior to the pool installation, numbered the sections which allowed me, and Fontaine’s band of young landscapers the ability to arrange the sections without any guesswork. To set the posts accurately, each section was first held in position by two lads while the ground was marked at every post location for that section. Two other workers then drilled new holes for the 4x4 posts with a hand-held, gas-powered post-hole auger. Once the holes for that fence section were achieved, the posts were re-mounted onto that section. The roughly 12-foot section with two posts was then carefully lowered into the holes. The section end was affixed to the rigid side of the existing fence. The elevation of the fence section was established by adding a slight amount of gravel under each posts, as needed. This process was then repeated for the next fence section. And once the next section had reached the same stage, the previous section’s posts were then filled with gravel to establish plumb.

As we reached the end of the fence line between the houses, where the fence meets perpendicularly to the shorter fence length that accommodates both the homeowner’s and the neighbours’ gates, the recycled 6x6 post would be set to again provide the rigidity required for the hinge sides of both gates. To our surprise and amazement, the 6x6 location (as dictated by the last fence section) once leveled and plumb was only a fraction of an inch off its original position. It was set with gravel, and the remaining two post holes along the perpendicular run were then drilled, completing the fence “re-erection”.

While the landscaping crew slowly got back to their own tasks, I shifted my focus towards the deck build. With the deck was completed on a subsequent day, a partial day was then dedicated to the last remaining fence tasks. The 2x6 top caps were set back atop the old fence (using a few weathered boards from elsewhere – some of the original boards were too badly broken), and the neighbours’ old gate was rehung. A new gate was then constructed using treated lumber for the homeowner’s new walkway (built to mimic the construction style of the adjacent gate), replacing the old wrought iron gate that was insufficient for a backyard with an in-ground pool. Self-closing gate springs were introduced on all gates, to ensure they close and latch with little effort. With the entire fence back up, the homeowner was overjoyed - although the neighbours had been very cooperative throughout the pool installation process, there’s no doubt the re-introduction of the old fence provides a sense of normalcy,a great relief to everyone.

Neither I, nor the landscaping crew fully understood the degree to which the fence had been impacted during the pool installation – a near impossible job, to reposition old posts and fence sections. Nevertheless, the collaboration between sub-trades eventually overcame the obstacles, and our efforts outperformed all expectations. This definitely was a team effort. Thanks to J.P. Fontaine, and his entire crew at Fontaine Landscaping Inc. for stepping up to meet the challenge - WE GOT’ER DONE!


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