Terms can sometimes have different meanings depending on the area that you live. I will be speaking about the use of the term “Good Neighbor” in terms of fencing in the Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yuba areas of California. In this area this term is used by fence companies most commonly when talking about wood fences and most commonly Dog Ear style fences.
We all have seen the dog ear fence style where the rail sections alternate every other panel. You will see an alternating pattern of rail, panel, rail, panel. This is a good neighbor alternating fence. Many people refer to the “picket sections” as the good side and the “rail sections” as the bad side. In all reality after many years of talking with homeowners, most come to the conclusion that they don’t really like one side versus the other, but more often they just like it being consistent and not alternating good neighbor style.
So why do are there so many good neighbor alternating fences? In this part of the country most of the time fences are on the property line and two property owners are sharing the cost. Because of this sharing good neighbor alternating is common around here because both neighbors are contributing for the fence replacement. This way one neighbor does not feel like they got the short end of the stick. As well, by doing this all the way around your yard with all of your neighbors it keeps things consistent.
A question we commonly get asked is: If one of my neighbors does not share the cost of the fence with me can I take the good side (picket side? The direction that I give these homeowners is this: You could definitely request that all the pickets face you on your side as long as you and the neighbor agree.
However, please remember in your decision to do this, that if you have alternating good neighbor styles on the other sides of your yard that you share with other neighbors, then you will be making your perimeter fence which is the background framing around your landscape inconsistent. In the end, most homeowners then decide to keep it good neighbor alternating panels so that they keep the consistency in the yard. It has seemed to me over the years that these customers have been very happy in the end with that decision.
Are there Good Neighbor styles where both neighbors get the “good side”?
Normally fence contractors in this area refer to good neighbor as the alternating fences where each neighbor sees alternating sections rail/picket/rail/picket, but sometimes fence companies will refer to fences that look the same on both sides as good neighbor as well. These fences are designed so that both sides of the fence look the same and both neighbors get the same look. We see these in wood fences and also in vinyl fences. Some examples are below.
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