House 9 Remodeling: Fence Replacement – Day 1

In the last post, I detailed the upgrades I plan on incorporating into the DIY fence replacement project at House 9.  One of these upgrades is increasing the fence height from 5-1/2 feet to 8 feet.  The most common height for wood privacy fence is 6 feet.  I have built several six foot tall fences over the years so I am very familiar with the specifications and requirements for their construction.  Eight foot privacy fences are much less common.  Since this is my first time building an eight foot fence I had to do some research to determine how they should be constructed.

Post Setting Requirements

As the owner of multiple single family homes, fence building is something that I have routinely tackled during my last decade of DIY landlording.  I have learned in the past that the above ground height of a fence post dictates how deep the post should be set in the ground.  The portion of a fence post set in the ground should be at least 1/3 of a post’s above-ground height.  By this rule, a post that stands six feet above ground should have at least 2 feet of its length set underground.  Consequently, for my new fence which will have posts that stand eight feet above ground, I will need to set at least  2.67 feet of their length underground.

Unfortunately, I have never encountered a rule for calculating how far posts should be spaced apart.  It is common to space the posts for 6 foot privacy fences 8 feet apart.  But I had difficulty finding information on how far apart posts for 8 foot tall privacy fences should be spaced.  If posts are spaced too far apart, then the wind load on the fence section may be too much for the posts to handle and may result in the posts being bent.

On YouTube, I found an example of a 8 foot privacy fence constructed with steel posts. This first example utilized specialized, square-shaped galvanized steel posts manufactured by the company,  Master Halco.  In the video, the posts were spaced 6 feet apart and were joined to each other by four rails.

The second example I found of a 8 foot privacy fence constructed with steel posts utilized the same round chain link posts that I will be using.  This example had the posts spaced out 7.5 feet apart.

Since there was not an abundance of information on this subject, I decided to play it safe by spacing my posts no more than 6 feet apart.  Once I performed the calculations needed to space the posts apart equally over the entire span of the fence run, the spacing came out to be 5 feet and 9 inches.

Construction Begins!

With all the construction planning out of the way, I was now ready to get down to business.  Mrs. DIY Landlord volunteered to be my assistant for this project.  As a fresh, wide-eyed newbie, she optimistically declared that we should demolish the entire 98-foot fence section and then do whatever it takes to get the new fence built over the course of one weekend.

With many fence builds under my belt, I knew that what Mrs. DIY Landlord was suggesting was a pipe dream.  I reminded her that even if she was up to the task of working 18 hours day for two days in a row to get the project complete, our available working hours were limited by the noise ordinance.  I told her that it was more realistic to split the project over two weekends and so the decision was made to tackle replacing just the first 40 foot of the fence over the span of the first weekend.

On Friday evening, we kicked off construction by digging the holes for just the two end posts.  The end posts were set in concrete and left to harden overnight.  Before calling an end to the day, we made a trip to Home Depot Rentals.

Post Hole Digging

The most laborious part of fence building is the digging of the fence post holes.  To make easy work of digging the 3 foot deep post holes, I decided to rent an auger from Home Depot. I’ve rented a 1 Man Auger before on a couple of occasions and always came to the conclusion that I could dig fence post holes quicker and easier just using a manual post hole digger.

I have also rented 2 Man Augers several times before.  They work much better than a 1 Man Auger, however, they definitely require two individuals with the strength to lift the auger up and down repeatedly while the auger is running.  While Mrs. DIY Landlord had agreed to assist me with this fence project, she is quite petite and fragile so I knew that the 2 Man Auger was out of the question for us.

I decided to try out the Towable Hydraulic Auger which is a recent addition to Home Depot Rentals.  This auger was advertised as requiring just one operator.

With the two end posts in place, on Saturday morning, we were able to run a string between the two posts.  This string allowed us to precisely mark the locations for all the new line posts to be positioned between the two end posts.

The hydraulic auger did a good job of digging out the first two feet of the post holes.  Beyond that depth, it had a tendency to get stuck so I had to resort to manually digging the remaining depth with a post hole digger.

The posts were lined up with each other in a straight line using the string that I ran between the two end posts.  All posts were also aligned plumb with a level before setting in concrete.  Each post hole required about 2 bags of 80 pound concrete to fill.

Removing Old Posts

In addition to the hard work of digging the post holes, I also had to remove the old wood posts.  This task would normally be even more difficult than installing new posts.  Fortunately, I had spent some time researching methods for post removal ahead of time.  Based on my research, I purchased a farm jack from Northern Tool capable of a 7000 pound load.

Thankfully, the farm jack worked well and made fairly easy work of removing all the old posts.

Day 1 Progress

By the end of Saturday, we had all the 8 posts for the 40 foot span installed.  We called it a day and left the posts to set in concrete overnight.

In our next post we will continue the fence construction by installing the wood rails and fence boards.

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