Budget-Friendly Tips to Save Money on Your Property Improvement

August 17, 2022

The past few years have been unprecedented. We know that worries about household budgets are top-of-mind right now for many homeowners. Unfortunately, the need for home maintenance and home upgrades doesn’t go away when there is uncertainty or strain on the economy. You may be wondering what to do if you need a fence repair or replacement in the near future.

Your fence is an important part of your property- and a large part of keeping your family safe, your pets secure and maintaining privacy around your property. It’s also the first impression of your home before anyone ever reaches the front door and makes a big impact on its curb appeal. If your current fence is looking worse for the wear and needs a makeover or you need a new fence altogether to serve your property’s needs- these tips may be helpful as you plan and budget.

Preventing Costly Replacement: Proper Care for Your Fence

When it comes to having a beautiful and long-lasting fence, using high-quality lumber and professional installation are key. However, even fences built from high-quality materials will need regular maintenance. There are easy steps you can take to keep your fence in good shape for longer-whether by investing in low-cost options that will prolong your fence’s lifespan- or performing simple DIY improvements to your fence.

Staining and Sealing Your Fence

Sealants and stains help to prevent water from seeping into the wood of your fence and also will help prevent discoloration on your fence from the sun’s UV rays.

You need to wait for a new fence to dry completely before you can apply stain. The time it takes to fully dry will depend on a variety of factors like the amount of rain, the sun exposure, the humidity, etc. If your fence has been previously stained you should power wash your fence and apply a stain stripper to remove the old stain before adding new stain. There are a variety of paint color options that can give your fence a whole new look. You can read more about fence staining here and a how-to guide for DIY staining here.

Transparent wood stain.

Repairing Cracks and Knotholes on Your Fence

Sometimes wood fences can get minor cracks or knotholes. These are usually easily fixable by using wood filler or putty. Usually, you can begin by sanding the inside of the hole with coarse sandpaper then wiping away any remaining sawdust or dirt. Then, fill the hole by applying the putty with a putty knife. Make sure you put a little bit of putty out of the hole and on the surrounding area for support. Once the putty is evenly distributed on both sides, allow for 12-24 hours of drying time after the application. After the putty has dried, take medium grit sandpaper to even out the putty with the rest of the fence. It is pretty easy as far as DIY projects go.

This method will work to fill holes or cracks in your fence. It’s best to do this if you plan on staining a fence but want to do some minor repairs beforehand (also important to note that these fixes will be eyecatching unless and until you stain or paint your fence after.)

Board or Post Damage on Your Fence

If only one or a few boards on your fence are damaged or warped, you can replace just those instead of replacing the entire fence as a more cost-effective option. To replace the boards yourself, you need to find the measurements of your boards so you can buy the right lumber to replace them.

Once you have the lumber pieces, you should remove the damaged boards with a tool like a crowbar, being careful not to damage any focal points like adjacent boards or the railings. Once you remove the damaged boards, line up the new boards and mark where you’ll be nailing them to the railing with a pencil. Nail the new boards to the railing using either a hammer or nail gun.

Know When to Repair Vs. Replace Your Fence

Sometimes, the steps needed to care for your fence or even repair minor damage can be DIY- as outlined above. However, even a seemingly simple repair job can be complicated if you’re not an expert craftsman. Using power tools can be dangerous if you’re not familiar with them and your fence may not end up looking how you want it to if you endeavor to repair it yourself.

It also may be time to replace your entire fence. If more than a few sections are damaged, warped, sagging, etc. then it is probably wise to opt for a full replacement. Besides no longer looking good, severely damaged fences can pose a safety hazard.

There are many other considerations when deciding whether it’s better to repair your fence or replace it entirely- like if you want an updated look for your property altogether. You can read more about that here.

Using Insurance to Pay for Storm Damage

Planning ahead by repairing or replacing your fence before winter storms roll through can save you the headache of dealing with a downed fence. However, if storms do end up damaging or destroying your fence, you can sometimes use insurance to cover the cost to fix it.

Whether or not insurance will help pay for your new fence after it has been damaged will depend on your coverage plan, and how the damage happened. You’ll likely need pictures of the damage from multiple angles as well as measurements. An adjuster will assess the damage and you’ll have to wait for the claim to be approved afterward. You can always contact your specific insurance provider to learn more about the process.

Financing Options

Installing a new fence is a big investment- and one that sometimes needs to be made on a time crunch. Unlike other home renovation projects that can be purely cosmetic- a sturdy fence is often an essential part of keeping your family, your pets, and your home safe and secure! Financing your new fence can be a great decision if you are ready to complete your home improvement project- but prefer to make smaller payments over time.

Certain reputable fence companies offer financing for qualifying projects and customers. Typically, it works like the following:

  • The fence company will contract with a third-party lending service.
  • There will be parameters for project minimums and maximums that qualify for the financing option.
  • There will be a round or two of credit checks to see if you are approved for financing.
  • You can review the terms of the loan (like the APR and pay-off timeline) to determine if financing is the right option for you.

Splitting the Cost with a Neighbor

In some cases where there is a shared fence line, you can split the cost of a new fence with a neighbor or neighbors! An option here is called a good neighbor fence. Whereas normal fences have the presentable side with boards facing outwards and posts facing in toward the yard, a good neighbor fence is built to look identical on both sides. This means each neighbor gets to have an equally beautiful fence to increase their home value and it also means you can share the cost in some cases.

Different regions will have different rules relating to good neighbor fences. For example, in the state of California, the regulation states: “Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.” You can read more about the law here.

If you’re interested in learning more about good neighbor fences or need ideas for how to approach the subject with a neighbor, you can read this blog.

Good neighbor fence with alternating panels.

Tax Deductions on Fence Projects

For tax purposes, ‘home improvement’ includes any work done that adds substantial value to your real estate or home, increases its usefulness or adapts it to new uses. Examples include room additions, new kitchen cabinets, countertops, or faucets,  living room upgrades, premium light fixtures, a fresh coat of paint, plumbing upgrades and- yes- new fencing! A new fence can save you money on your taxes- either in the short-term or long-term- and you won’t have to  hire an interior designer for the value-added.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to possible deductions from your new fence.

Primary Residence Rules

If you get a new fence installed at a home that is used purely as your primary residence, you won’t be able to deduct the cost on your taxes for that same tax year. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from the investment.

By installing a new fence, you increase the “tax basis” of your property. Your tax basis includes the amount you’ve invested in your property over time. This means, if you were to sell that property, you’d be able to deduct the cost of your home improvements in order to lower the amount that you’re subject to pay in taxes after the sale, as your total profit would be lower.

Here’s an example: You bought your home for ​$300,000​ and then spent ​$50,000​ on various home improvements – including installing a new fence. You then sell your home for ​$400,000​. Rather than paying taxes on the full ​$400,000​ sale price, you can deduct the tax basis (the original cost of your home + the cost of the home improvements you invested in.) ​$400,000​ minus a tax basis of ​$350,000​ leaves you with just ​$50,000​ profit subject to tax.

For this reason, you can think of installing a new fence at your home as a long-term investment because it can help you save money down the line.

Business Property Rules

If you own a business, you’re likely familiar with the rules for business expense deductions. Like other business expenses, your new fence needs to be ordinary and necessary to the business in order to classify as a legitimate deduction.

There are several reasons why a new fence would be necessary for your business, however. For example, an old fence that poses a safety hazard would need to be replaced for the sake of your business. A privacy fence may be necessary, depending on the nature of your business. A chain-link fence may be necessary to clearly mark your business property line and keep out intruders, etc. Improvements to your business property are typically deductible on the taxes filed for the year that the project is completed.

Rental Property Rules

Home improvements to your rental property can often count as a tax write-off. Similar to the rules for deductible home improvements to a business property, improvements made to your rental property would need to be necessary and ordinary to keep the property in good shape and liveable for tenants.

People who use a portion of their property or home as a rental can still deduct some of the expense. In this case, the homeowner can calculate the percentage of the home that is rented out and then use that percentage for the amount of home improvement expenses that would be deductible. As with business properties, improvements to rental properties are also typically deductible on the taxes filed for the year the project is completed.

Budget-Friendly Home Improvement

At the end of the day, we know it can be hard to plan and budget for all of the things that make your home a home. We’re here to empower every homeowner to be their own superhero by providing helpful information in a transparent way.

Have questions about fence repairs or replacements? You can reach out to one of our dedicated customer specialists. You can also get an idea of how much your fence would cost by using our free online quoting tool.

Ready to get started? Join the over 10,500 happy customers who have had fences built by Ergeon. We specialize in fence installation and repair and hold a 4.6 average rating!

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