Building a lattice fence over concrete, oy.

In a few short days we’ve gone from gung-ho DIYers to happily paying someone else to do the dirty work, readers.  It began innocently enough with an idea to close in the backyard for Oscar the dog, so he couldn’t run free and escape.  Our yard is 3/4 fenced (courtesy of our three neighbours with properties that sit adjacent to our yard, who already had their own fences) and all we needed was a 10′ stretch between the house and the driveway retaining wall fence and a 5.5′ stretch between the side of the house and the neighbour’s existing chainlink fence.  Easy-peasy, right?

Here’s a visual for you:

ten feet across the drivewayfive point five feet side yardWe started by thinking of the kind of fence style we wanted.  You may have noticed that our driveway is a solid concrete slab, which poses some difficulty for your traditional dig-a-fence-post style fence.  Our project meant drilling into concrete no matter which way we looked at it, so we knew we had to choose a lighter fence style.

We began our planning by paying attention to fences we liked on our daily dog walks in the neighbourhood, and by scouring the internets (mostly Pinterest) for inspiration.  A lattice fence came out on top in terms of a style that appealed to us as well as something that wouldn’t tip over from the weight.

Our next step was a preliminary trip to Home Depot where we sourced out all of our materials and asked for some help from the closest orange apron we could find.  The nice man at Home Depot walked us through the whole thing, which included drilling holes in the concrete for the fence post supports (specially designed to go on concrete), using lag bolts to secure them to the concrete, then fence posts and away you go!  We briefly considered buying a ready-made gate (the only one we found was $80), but for $30 plus the cost of wood we could buy a gate kit and create our own.  I wrote all the details down and we went home to sketch out a plan.

With a little help from Dan’s dad, we created a plan that mapped out exactly what to do, and exactly what bits and pieces we need.  I made a master list of things to buy on Sunday morning, and we borrowed a van from my mom to transport all our gear.  We were buying stuff for both the driveway fence and the side yard fence, which would just be a section of chainlink tied into the existing fence over there.

We ran into a few hiccups at Home Depot about the best things to buy for our situation.  We found out that chainlink fencing only comes in 50ft rolls and we only needed 5ft.  Bummer.  The young lads in the fencing aisle that day told me I could buy smaller rolls of fencing from TSC, but I wasn’t in the mood to truck over there to maybe find the right thing, plus I’m fairly certainly a “smaller roll” was something like 25ft, which was still overkill.  We went the cheater route and picked up a ready-made chainlink gate piece that was 40-something” x 60″ with a plan to lay it on its side and tie it on to the existing fence and a new fence post.  Brilliant.  For your records, here’s the list of everything we bought:

  • 4’x8′ square lattice
  • 60″ chainlink gate
  • 3 x 2x4x8 pressure treated wood with a groove (to make a frame for the lattice to sit in)
  • 2 x 4x4x8 fence posts
  • 2x4x12 pressure treated wood for gate frame
  • 3 x 1x6x8 pressure treated fence boards for gate
  • gate kit
  • gate latch
  • box of deck screws
  • fence ties for the chainlink fence
  • shims, to even out the angle of the fence posts on the concrete slab
  • 3 x 4×4 bases for fence post
  • 7.5′ fence post for chainlink fence
  • 4 x 5″ lag bolts

We also bought two pairs of safety glasses (safety first!), a 100′ extension cord, and a 21 piece drill bit set for Dan’s drill, but these things weren’t specific to this project.  Dan’s dad also gifted us with the lag shields and lag bolts, plus a handy workbench, and let us borrow various tools we needed for the job.  My mom also let us borrow a hammer drill for the concrete drilling part.  In total, our shopping trip cost us $322.86, but we had a $150 gift card so it didn’t actually cost us that much.

Here’s the fully loaded van with our Home Depot haul, and the first “real” home improvement purchase we’ve ever made in our home ownership journey:

Fence!I’m glad we had the van, that lattice had to go over our heads as I drove.

We didn’t waste a minute with our plan and we got right down to assembling our fence, with the dream of having it done by dinnertime.  HA!  Here are the plans we were working from (originally drawn by Dan’s dad), crudely recreated in MS Paint for your amusement:

Lattice fence planThe green lines are the lag bolts and how they will secure everything together.  To accommodate the weight of the gate on the one post, we were advised to bolt a fence post to the house foundation, then attached the standing post to that re-enforced post.  Again, sounds easy, right?

Here we are at the very earliest stages of the construction, marking where things will go:

The beginningThen the drilling started.

Construction-action DanThis is the beginning of the end for us.  Drilling into concrete is HARD.  Dan did two holes into the house wall and four holes for the first post support, and he was done.  He literally walked away (and went into the house to get lunch).

The sum of our accomplishmentsThis is all we accomplished on Sunday.  We did get as far as drilling the next four holes, but what happened after that is upsetting and we don’t like to talk about it.  I’ll tell you, but just because I like you, readers.

Dan drilled the set of holes for the first fence post base.  He made each one deep enough for the lag shield, and then he dropped the mic hammer drill and went inside, leaving me to secure it to the ground.  I plunked a lag shield into each hole, lined up the base around the four holes and put a lag bolt into each one.  As I was tightening the bolts, two of them got really difficult to tighten when there was a solid inch of bolt still left to screw in.  I summoned all of my hulk strength and cranked them a little more.  And then they broke off.  Two of the bolts snapped off in the concrete, securely held down there by the lag shields.  Awesome.

This is when I went inside and decided we were done.  It was hot as BALLS that day, and this particular patch of our house sits right in the afternoon sun.  We were both not happy campers, and we realized that we bit off more than we could chew with our first big project.  This would have been so much easier if the fence was over grass, but it’s not.  We made the decision to call in Simon for the fence posts and concrete part (which very quickly turned into letting him build the fence all together).

With one failure under our belts, we were still determined to finish something on Sunday.  Chainlink fence, here we come!

This one was very straightforward.  All we had to do was smack a fence post into the ground and tie a gate to it.  The fence post part gave us a bit of trouble, but it hammered it down far enough eventually.  The ties we used were simple bendy wire fence ties, and with a pair of pliers we secured it to the post and existing fence as best we could.

Temporary fencing, Victoria and Dan styleThere is a big black plastic pipe running alongside the fence (for downspout drainage) so we had to work around that for tying the gate to the fence.  I’m not in love with it, but it gets the job done.

Downspout piping gapSmacka smacka fence postTune in next time for the results of our hired help for fence building, and maybe a few pictures of a happy dog romping around in the backyard.


About joeyandjanice

Two crazy kids trying to make sense of the jumble surrounding making the jump from renting to owning our first home. Join us here as we stumble towards the biggest purchase of our lives.
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