When the wind blows …

… the fencing will rock … and then fall over!

One of the advantages of living on top of one of the highest points around London is the wonderful view; the downside is the fact that the back of our house is very exposed when the wind blows from the west … and yesterday afternoon it was hit by very gusty winds and heavy rain.

The sound of the wind and rain was almost deafening in our conservatory, and our garden fence started to sway as the wind gusted around it … and then – at about 3.30pm – we heard a very loud crack and the top two fence posts of our garden fence snapped off at ground level, taking the top two fence panels with them and damaging a third. Once these fence posts had gone the rest of the fence began to sway even more violently in the wind, and several of the other fence posts and panels looked as if they were also very likely to go as well.

By the time that the weather began to improve it was too dark to see how bad the total damage was. One thing was obvious, however, and that was that the fence will need to be replaced as it is too badly damaged to be repaired.

I have spent this morning removing the damaged part of the fence … which is now stacked up in our driveway.

Before …

… and after the damaged part of the fence was removed.

I have already had one quote to replace the existing fence, and it looks as if it is going to cost between £1,000 and £1,200 depending upon the type of replacement posts and fence we choose to have installed.

Expensive business, house ownership!


32 Comments on “When the wind blows …”

  1. Jim Duncan says:

    My garden fence blew down a few years ago after a big winter storm.

    As some of the fence posts were snapped off at ground level they had to be replaced.

    Over the course of a few days I dug out each of the concrete bases which were about 3 foot by 2 foot by 2 foot using principles that Archimedes would have been proud of.

    I then re-instated all the ground, dug new fence post holes, set new posts in concrete bases and then mounted six new 2 meter square fence panels.

    It was back breaking work.

    If it were needed to be done again I would have to get a company in as I don't think I could manage the physical effort now that I am days away from my old age pension.

  2. Presumably not covered on the house insurance either? “Act of God”??

  3. Jim Duncan,

    The concrete bases holding the broken posts in place are too heavy for me to move; I know, because I tried to move one this morning! That – and the weight of the broken wooden panels I had to move – convinced me that I need to get an expert in to do the work.

    I have already had one quote for a replacement fence, and I am waiting for another to be done later this afternoon.

    Are you looking forward to receiving your state retirement pension? I did … until I received my occupational pension and discovered that HMRC had already claimed back seven week's worth of Income Tax on it! Very unwelcome even though it was not unexpected.

    All the best,


  4. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    Unfortunately fences wreaked by the weather aren't covered by my house insurance. If it had been destroyed by something else – like criminal damage – I could have claimed.

    All the best,


  5. Chris says:

    Good gravy! Sorry, but that seems like a heck of a lot of money for a wooden fence!

  6. Jim Duncan says:

    I used the broken fence posts to lever the concrete stumps out of the ground.

    Use a post to wedge a stump a couple of inches to one side, push some soil underneath it. Wedge the stump the other way a couple of inches and push some soil underneath it, rinse and repeat.

    The stumps I got out were too heavy for me to lift, too strong to break up. I eventually dug an enormous hole in my garden and buried them.

    Fence panels are about £25 each, fence posts about a tenner, concrete is cheap. Human labour is where the money goes.

  7. Chris,

    One of the 'joys' of living in London is the cost! I'm not sure how much things cost where you live, but a one bed flat in a converted fire station just 200m from my house costs £175,000 to buy, and the average price of a small 3-bed terraced house in nearby streets is between £275,000 and £350,000.

    My wife and I are thinking about moving out of London now that we are retired, and have been told by local estate agents to wait until 2018 before we do so. That is the year when a fast rail link (Crossrail) will be built between close to where we live and Heathrow Airport, passing through central London en route. They estimate that house prices in our area will rise by at least 50% over the next three years … and that would well worth waiting for.

    All things considered, £1,000 to £1,200 for a new fence seems quite cheap in comparison.

    All the best,


  8. arthur1815 says:

    Sorry to learn of this misfortune.
    Evelyn recently paid c.£2000 to have a fence erected around the rear garden of her property in Nottingham, which looks similar in height/size to yours.
    She did, however, have concrete posts – like those we have in our back garden here – which may be more wind resistant and you might like to consider. They have a 'U' section running vertically down them, into which the fence panel slides. This has proved useful on occasion I have lifted out a damaged panel to repair it and then lowered it into place again.

  9. Jim Duncan,

    I tried levering one of the concrete bases out with a long crowbar … and could barely shift it. I tried hitting it with a large sledgehammer to break it up … and all I managed to do was to break a few flakes of concrete off and get blisters on my hands.

    It is going to need a pneumatic drill/hammer to remove the concrete, and they cost £100 per day to hire locally. According to my local branch of Wickes, the posts will cost £15.00 each, the gravel boards £12.00 each, and the panels £15.00 each. I need 11 posts and 10 panels and gravel boards, so the cost of materials is £425.00. Add in the cost of hiring the pneumatic drill/hammer for a day, and doing it myself doesn't look that cheap when compared to the cost of getting someone else to do it for me. It will also spare my wife and neighbours from hearing me swear long, loud, and often … and will spare me the back pain I will undoubtably have afterwards!

    As Clint Eastwood said in DIRTY HARRY, 'A man's got to know his limitations' … and I know mine too well.

    All the best,


  10. Arthur1815,

    The fence was 30 years old, and was going to need to be replaced soon … it just needs to be done sooner than we had hoped.

    I am certainly thinking along the concrete post and wooden panel route for the new fence. It may be slightly more costly, but as you write, it makes replacing damaged panels a lot easier.

    We shall make the final decision once the quotes arrive … which should be quite soon.

    All the best,


  11. Pete. says:

    Sorry to hear about your fence Bob, though I must admit I was half expecting to see a post on Raymond Briggs.

    Even though I'm a youngster I would still get a professional to do the job- my DIY skills are very limited… unless you wanted the new fence to be balsa and 1/72 scale.



  12. Pete,

    Like you my DIY skills are also very limited, and it will be much less stressful for all involved if all I do is pay somebody who knows what they are doing to do the work.

    All the best,


  13. Kev says:

    Bob- the Quotes seem awfully expensive for what would amount for three to four panels of fencing- installed. Have you considered metal fencing panels – in the form of Colour Bond- supplied with a well formed frame this type of fence will well and truly stand up to the rigors of strong winds- worth considering. Regards. KEV.

  14. Kev,

    The whole fence needs to be replaced as two of the other posts are rotten and about to snap off at ground level, and all the panels are falling apart.

    The quote is for fitting 11 new post and 10 new panels, removal of the existing fence, and 2 days labour. Bearing in mind that the garden has a 1:10 slope down and a 1:20 slope across, the fence will need gravel/kick boards fitted as well.

    I must admit that we hadn't thought about using metal fencing … but we will certainly have a look at it now.

    All the best,


  15. Sean says:

    Glad the damage was limited to the fence itself. Just caught up with the blog and am looking forward to reading more mini campaigns.

  16. Sorry to hear about the expensive damage. Some days the weather just doesn't seem much like a friend.

    We almost had the roof of our woodshed/workshop collapse under the weight of snow. Luckily I was able to shore it up and spent a couple of hours pulling snow off. A proper fix is now on the list for this summer.

  17. Fitz-Badger says:

    I had my fence replaced last year. It was well worth paying professionals to come in, tear down the old fence and remove all the pieces, and install the new fence, with a nice sturdy gate and all.

    I don't mind taking on minor fix-it issues, but I also don't mind paying for pros to do some jobs. It may be pricey, but it can be worth the cost! (speaking from experience. ha ha)

  18. Stu Rat says:

    Lasers! Replace the fence with lasers.

    No one will trespass twice.

  19. Looking at the pictures suggested to me that you might already have the solution: no fence. Just a thought… 🙂

  20. Sean,

    We were concerned that the fence panels might hit the conservatory, but luckily they didn't.

    Hopefully I will be able to fight another mini-campaign at some point over the Easter weekend … assuming that there are no more domestic problems.

    All the best,


  21. Ross Mac,

    The fence did 30 years service, so it would have needed to be replaced in the near future. We had it pencilled in for next year … but nature intervened and rather disrupted our plans.

    Your recent weather seems to have been rather more extreme than normal, and the amount of snow you have had to deal with is far, far more than we ever suffer in London.

    How did you manage to shore up your shed roof? I assume that you had to do that before you were able to clear the snow off it.

    All the best,


  22. Fitz-Badger,

    Like you I don't mind doing minor work around the house, but anything that requires two or more people and specialist equipment gets handed over to the professionals. I discovered some years ago that taking that course of action was quicker, there were fewer problems, and it ended up being done properly.

    A bit of a no-brainer really!

    All the best,


  23. Stu Rat,

    The only lasers that are likely to be used are those that will line up the new fence. I don't think that my neighbours would appreciate their children being 'zapped' if they got too close to the boundary between our gardens,

    All the best,


  24. Archduke Piccolo,

    It would be nice not to have a fence, but having one does help stop the soil erosion we suffer from. (Our house is on a slope that goes down and across the garden, and over the years rainfall has tended to wash soil down the slope. The fence has helped reduce the amount of erosion by acting as a dam.)

    All the best,


  25. Jim Duncan says:

    Sounds like you need to 'terrace' the garden Bob.

  26. Jim Duncan,

    We did consider terracing our garden, but the cost was prohibitive. It would have required at least four sets of brick retaining walls, which would have had to have been built from yellow London stock bricks (a local building regulation as we live on the edge of a conservation area). A lot of earth would also have had to have been dug out and moved.

    Finally (and this is absolutely true) if the digging had exposed any archaeological remains, all work would have had to have stopped and we would have had to pay for an archaeological survey. (This might sound ridiculous but we live in an area where Neolithic and Roman remains have been found. Some years ago TIME TEAM did a dig just up the road from us, and just over 100m away there are two tumuli.)

    All the best,


  27. Bob, when I walked in to feed our outdoor cat, nearly tripped over the brojen pieces and then saw the roof and rafters sagging, it took me back to Damage Control School 40 years ago and I could almost hear a Petty Officer snarling, “com'on sir that things going to fall on your head and on your melting pot and stack of molds! what are you going about?”

    Luckily I keep a stack of 2×4 lumber in case and was able to fasten a few into improvised 4×4 posts which I wedged into what looked like the most critical spots . Then I went out and pulled the snow down by standing on planks laid on top of 5ft snow banks. I've never seen quite so much snow for so long.

    I'll have to do more serious repairs should spring eventually arrive but the cat was grateful.

  28. Ross Mac,

    It sounds as if it was rather lucky that you noticed the problem before it became a whole lot worse! That – and your damage control training and your supply of 'spare' wood – stood you in good stead on this occasion.

    I assume that the roof is a flat incline and not pitched, and is therefore not designed to 'shed' the snow when it falls. Mind you, with the amount of snow that you seem to have had, I doubt that that would have made much difference!

    It would appear that you are going to have one or two largish projects to do around your home as a result of this winter's weather. Luckily you are a bit more practical than I am, otherwise it would be costing you a small fortune.

    All the best,


  29. Unfortunate, but it looks like that old fence didn't owe you anything more. Still annoying to replace, but anything you can do to make money on the home sale will be advantageous, and it sounds like you would be well advised to hang on for a bit until that rail line goes through.
    Quite like the moggy in the second photo.

    Ross Mac – I have one of those snarling NCOs as my superego as well – mine is a crusty old Signals MWO who was the chaperone on my Padre Basic Course – he could freeze the blood by whispering.

  30. Michael Peterson,

    The fence had served its purpose well for thirty years, and had reached its 'use by' date. We would have had to replace it anyway sometime soon, and certainly by 2018 if we decide that that is when we are going to sell up and move.

    The cat is called 'Fluffy' and is a regular visitor. It would like to move in, but our cat has made it very clear that she is not going to allow that! 'Fluffy' is a very beautiful cat to look at … but is not the brightest animal that I have ever had to deal with.

    The good old-style NCOs! Where are they now? Coming from a lineage of sergeant majors (both my father and grandfather reach WO rank) I learned to shout so that it hurt people's ears … and an unsurpassed command of certain elements of the Anglo-Saxon language. (I still marvel at the way someone could use the 'f' word as a noun, adjective, and verb … in the same sentence!)

    All the best,


  31. Chris Kemp says:

    Looking on the bright side, your neighbour's blue clay plant pot seems to have had a lucky escape :O)

    Regards, Chris.

  32. Chris Kemp,

    It had a very, very lucky escape. Had the fence fallen the other way, it would have been smashed.

    All the best,


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