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Block or Timber fence???

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  • Block or Timber fence???

    Hi people

    I'm trying to decide whether to build a timber or a concrete block fence out the front of my home and would like some advice on whether its worth spending the extra cash on the block fence?

    We live on a very busy 4 lane road, also with a train opposite so the purpose of the fence is to provide some privacy and ideally reduce some of the traffic noise.

    If money was no object I would definitely go for the block, but the price difference is substantial (approx. 3k vs 9k) and I'm a bit of a scrooge. I can probably justify the block provided it's going to add comparative dollar value to the property. As in would the fence become a selling point?

    It's probably worth mentioning that we're in Tauranga and may consider sub-dividing the property in 8-10 years which could result in changes to the proposed fence. Also we don't intend to stay here forever so alternatively we may be gone in 5 years.

    Here are my list of pros and cons for both options

    Pros - Cheaper, quicker, easier to modify
    Cons - More road noise, greater maintenance

    Block (Stack-bond)
    Pros - Less traffic noise, better aesthetics, Less maintenance
    Cons - Cost, difficult to modify if necessary


  • #2
    Whats your neighborhood like? i.e. high income, low income area?

    If it was a nicer area, I would definitely go with block - it would enhance the value of your property. The noise reduction would help with the sale price of the property as well if you plan to move.


    • #3
      timber and plant a row of trees behind it


      • #4
        Tricky question, we're at The Mount which is high income in general, but we're kind of in a cheaper part. There's state housing in the neighborhood, but property values certainly aren't cheap and it seems to be an up and coming area i.e. owner occupiers are buying here and spending money improving the houses. We're probably about 500m from a genuine high income area, but being on the main road I'm not sure it will ever become a super desirable location.


        • #5
          I really don't think that a block fence would provide a meaningful decrease in noise over a timber fence. You're likely to get more benefit from double gazing the street facing windows and insulating the street facing wall if these aren't done already.

          A noisy main road is a noisy main road whether you have a timber fence, a block fence or no fence at all. And unless your gate is concrete as well, noise will still get in the driveway anyway. I know this because my family lived in a house on a major arterial road in Christchurch for 30 years. The traffic would start from 5am and it didn't quieten down till about midnight - and weekends were worse. The original block fence was damaged in the 2011 quake and subsequently removed. I guess we noticed a slight increase in noise - but the fact remains that the block fence never stopped the road noise in the first place.
          Our insurance company gave us a cash payout for the damaged fencing and paths at the property, based on a like for like rebuild. We decided to replace the old block fence with a timber one, and used the rest of the money for new (better quality) paths and other landscaping. Once complete, I reckon the timber fence provided a similar level of sound reduction as the old block fence, but for a fraction of the cost.

          When we took the house to market in November 2016, it was clear that anyone with any sort of aversion to road noise was never going to make an offer whether there was a block fence or not. Houses on main roads take longer to sell - Ours took about 4 months, and this was when the market in Christchurch was still quite buoyant. It didn't help that about 10 years ago, the council/NTZA bestowed upon us the joyous gift of yellow no stopping lines the entire length of our block - on both sides of the road.

          There are two types of buyers - those who are prepared to live on a main road, and those who are not. I don't think the type of fence makes any difference for noise, although aesthetically some people may prefer the block wall over timber, and vice versa. But I think as long as the fence provides the high degree of privacy needed on a main road, the type really doesn't mater that much.

          You can make a timber fence look pretty grand too by the way - it doesn't have to be a plain overlapping rough-sawn paling sort of job. We went for machine finished grooved shiplap palings which were only slightly more costly than the crap rough sawn stuff. Believe me I have seen plenty of grandiose timber fences being built in Christchurch in the last couple of years. People are steering away from concrete block fences here in case there is another earthquake - yes they are strong, but now that natural disaster insurance excesses are so high for fences and paths ($5000+), people are steering clear of them and going for timber instead.


          • #6
            SimonW makes some good points.
            You can also get timber fences designed to reduce noise - this usually involves having minimal gaps in the fence, a certain height and are usually designed to have uneven surfaces, i.e. battens on top of ply etc. I'm not sure how effective they are, but they are usually specified when there is a commercial building built next to residential areas, i.e. next to McDonalds drivethrus.


            • #7
              Originally posted by jimO View Post
              timber and plant a row of trees behind it
              I'm with this suggestion. The trees will probably reduce the noise factor more than the brick wall and should add some better aesthetics to your property at the same time.


              • #8
                spend the extra money on double glazing and some baffle panels in the garden or on the wall. sound jumps the fence and you need something soft to absorb the sound. Carpet is good.