Fencing and development applications in Canberra?

Mummy 25 May 2013 11

Hi all I had a search and couldn’t see any other threads so forgive me if this is a repeated question.

We have neighbours who put in a development application for dual occupancy and a condition of this was to have the fences fixed at their cost. Now, they’ve advised that they aren’t going ahead with the development but still want to go ahead with the fences. Meaning that we now share the cost of the fence.

I’m trying not to be too cynical and am trying to believe that given the economic climate it might not be the best time to go ahead with a dual occupancy, but what recourse do I have if I go ahead and pay for half the fence and they suddenly ‘change their mind’ and go ahead with the development after I have paid for it?

This is all in the ACT.

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11 Responses to Fencing and development applications in Canberra?
Innovation Innovation 9:05 am 27 May 13

If the fence is in good condition you shouldn’t be expected to pay for its replacement. If a specific section only has been damaged then you should only have to share the cost for that section. In either case, take lots of photos as proof in case the fence is replaced quickly and your share for the whole fence is sought later.

If the fence is in poor condition generally then you are probably liable for half the “reasonable” cost of a 1.5 metre high single paling fence. As posted earlier, make sure that any non railing sides (ie paling only) remain on your side of the fence, check that existing property lines are not breached and don’t pay for extended fence lines.

If the redevelopment is going ahead, check the fence reflects the new boundaries and changes to ground levels. Often a dual occupancy’s approval will be subject to a 1.8 metre high lapped and capped fence. You don’t want the new house overlooking a fence that has been set too low in the ground and you don’t want the wood rot and termite risk either.

Sandman Sandman 10:13 pm 26 May 13

I’d like to know where RedDogInCan is getting a fence built for $200. Youd barely get the old one pulled down for that.

Mummy Mummy 2:06 pm 26 May 13

Hi all. Thanks for the advice. I don’t think I’m being too cynical at all now.

curmudgery curmudgery 11:34 am 26 May 13

RedDogInCan no one’s suggesting they’re holding up the redevelopment of the site just because of the damn fence. They’ve had put it on hold for some other reason like they can’t raise all the finance yet, or a legal or design technicality, or they’re waiting ‘til September … something. Who knows?

In the meantime, they going to try to get the fence done at least – and get their neighbour to pay for some of it. Bonus! If you saw a way of saving money on some project, would you take it? Yes, you would – it’s money in the bank.

RedDogInCan RedDogInCan 8:47 am 26 May 13

I’m glad I’m not a neighbour of you distrustful lot. Honestly, if they were planning a couple of hundred thousand dollar development, do you really think they baulked just because of a fence costing a few hundred? Do you really think they are delaying their development just to screw you to save a few hundred dollars? What a cynical society we have become.

There is a reason that neighbours share the cost of a fence – because both sides benefit. If you don’t contribute your share then you don’t get a say in what gets installed or how, including who gets the better side. At least with Colourbond, both sides are the same.

There is truth in the saying ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ – both literally and metaphorically!

tommy tommy 10:52 pm 25 May 13

If it concerns you they are going to try and do the fence first then the dual occ later, you should look at this:


Both you and your neighbour MUST discuss and agree on the financial and physical attributes of the fence repair/replacement. If you can’t – then off to Conflict Resolution or Small Claims Court.

sepi sepi 9:44 pm 25 May 13

If your fence is fine you don’t have to pay anything if they want to replace it.

there is a fencing act (1982) that states if a fence is run down both parties have to pay half. This is of the price of a paling fence.

if they want something fancier they pay the difference.

54-11 54-11 6:36 pm 25 May 13

I’m with curmudgery here – it sounds dodgy. Also have a think about how the fences are aligned – are the smooth faces on your side? When we had a developer do that to us, he turned the fences around so that he had the nice smooth edges, and gave us used posts and rough edges facing our way.

They are all as slick as hell, and once it’s up, there’s not much you can do.

Don’t trust them one bit and get them to show you exactly what is planned.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 3:42 pm 25 May 13

One of my neighbours came around a few years ago and said he wanted to replace an old but perfectly functional wooden picket fence with a you-beaut Colorbond masterpiece. I just said told him that the fence looked fine to me and I wasn’t going to spend $600 for something that I didn’t want. He went away and that was the end of it.

If your fence was functional before the dual-occupancy idea, then surely it’s still functional now. If your neighbours want to replace an existing functional fence with a better fence then I don’t see why you have to pay for anything. Of course if the fence is buggered then that’s a different matter.

Genie Genie 3:02 pm 25 May 13

I think you’re liable for half the costs regardless….

But you only have to pay the cheapest amount. Eg if they want colour bond and you only want to pay for wood, you pay for half of what it would cost for a wood fence and they front up the rest.

You could probably argue if they replace the fence within a certain time frame you’re not paying up. Maybe put something in writing this time around, like a stat dec. stating you wont pay for another fence within e next 5 years. Contact legal aid to see if it’s binding.

curmudgery curmudgery 2:55 pm 25 May 13

Mummy, you’re quite right to be skeptical. I smell a rat. I wouldn’t give a bobby-pin for your chances of getting any of your money back when your neighbours eventually go ahead with the dual occupancy.

This is a way of getting you to pay 50% of the cost of the new fence that they would be obligated to provide. What nice neighbours you have! I’ll bet they’re all sweetness and light, too – really, really nice people. Your first obligation is to yourself and your family – not your neighbour’s retirement plan.

I would be interesting to know just how bad are your existing fences are. Are they dilapidated and ineffective? Does ‘fixing the fences’ involve putting them on a different alignment to accommodate the dual occupancy or extending them?

For now, I assume the existing fences are in reasonable condition.

My advice: (1) Do not give anyone any money for fencing unless (and until) you are legally required to do so. (2) When talking with these neighbours be delightfully vague – mention the local authorities, the lawyer, the insurance company, your relative who does fencing …. no decisions, no agreements, no commitment … it’s all beyond you … hasn’t it turned cold . . .?

Keep your money … wait and see.

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