Building a Picket Fence

Building a Queen Anne Picket Fence, One Post at a Time

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Hey y’all. SVV here, reporting for duty. Kristin asked me to stop by and update you on the status of our home—and the labor intensive effort it’s taken so far—and since I’m not one to cross her, I thought I’d do what I want what the woman said.

Our 1899 Victorian classic in the snow

We’ve known for some time now that we wanted to enclose the acre lot with a fence all the way around. The reason is a fairly classic excuse for installing a picket fence: keeping our six-pound attack dog from charging folks like a braying hound from hell and to stop the randos from tromping through our yard on their way to the local funeral home.


Editor’s Note: As SVV wrote this, it actually happened upon a man and his son standing on our porch admiring the dental work! AGAIN. Apparently, there’s no such thing as trespassing when you own such a thing of beauty.

Building a fence is technically easy but physically hard time at Sing Sing: breaking rocks in the sun and all that. It’s 10 months since we’ve started the project thanks to some hiccups from the city zoning board, capricious weekend weather, our hectic travel schedule, and because digging 32 post holes and nailing up 240 feet of wooden slats is work! I also, if you look closely enough at the first image, harassed a really good carpenter and had him finish off the turret crown moulding and cedar shingles. One less point of entry for the squirrels and starlings. Three more to go on the backside…


We still have one long section left to build (26 more bags of concrete and 315 french gothic pickets, thank you) and then of course the painting, which will probably be the largest time killer but the most rewarding one, as well. And I’ll never paint it again. Observe, the before last spring:

Building a Picket Fence

In addition to saving a ton of greenbacks doing it ourselves, we’re also working on our triceps, so that’s a bonus. If you fold in the heavy machinery rentals required to drill into Tennessee “dirt,” we’ve saved about 40 percent from what a contractor would charge. A painter buddy told me that he would charge $3,200 for the painting alone.

Digging a Fence

Besides wearing gloves and steel-toed shoes, Kristin and I have been keeping track of our expenses for this project (and an Egyptian scroll worth of others) using Excel. I don’t know about you, but I use this program a LOT. While it’s more intermediate functions require a little bit of Googling to figure out, simple tables and additive tracking are a snap.

House_repair_expense screencap

For a project this large and time-stretched, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of expenses and minutia. I use a shared file that’s always accessible in the cloud so I can stare in disbelief keep tabs on our expenses throughout the year, and Kristin can mull it over from wherever she is that given week.

Building a Picket Fence Building a Picket Fence Building a Picket Fence

Aside from the roof blowing off the first year we owned it and the waterproofing failures that I discovered once we started poking around, we’re pretty much on track for a house this old (est. 1899!).

Building a Picket Fence

Once we’ve completed the final side, we’ll take a paint brush to all these posts and pickets—our barn-raising weekend last November means that at least they’re all already primed, saving us a bit of work—but hopefully, with some nice weather on the horizon and a few solid work weekends on the calendar, Ella soon will be allowed to scamper around the entire perimeter without being corrected at every turn—and we’ll begin adding more fruits and herbs to the collection.

plants_2015Wish us luck!

  • April 10, 2015

    The fence looks great! I remember painting my mom’s white picket fence when I was a teen. It seemed like it took forever!!

    • April 10, 2015

      Oh, I can only imagine. Which brings me to this: We’ll be soliciting volunteers if you want to relive the nostalgia, HA 😉

  • April 10, 2015

    Your house looks beautiful! I love those types of homes – and a white picket fence is the cherry on top!

  • April 11, 2015

    Beautiful and lovely house! The fence looks ethereal and pretty!

  • April 11, 2015


    Love your house, love you blog! Just wondering if you know if Microsoft will release new Office suite for Macs this year?

  • April 12, 2015

    I like the white colors against the green background, but more than that I like the perseverance in doing the job!

  • June 3, 2015

    You’re house is truly beautiful, so I can certainly see why you wanted to build a fence to keep people off your property. Not only does the white picket fence add more charm to the character your house already had, but it acts as a deterrent for those who may not realize they are formally trespassing by cutting through your property. Both functional and picturesque, your fence is all around a nice addition to your home.

  • July 17, 2015

    After seeing photos of your yard and beautiful home, I can tell why you want people to stay off your property. Did you guys build the home on the lot or did you purchase the home? I just don’t get why someone didn’t up up a fence before now. With a gorgeous sanctuary like yours, you deserve to have your space and expect that people respect that space.

    • July 20, 2015

      It’s an 1800s home so we definitely did not build it 😉

  • September 17, 2015

    I just have to say, you’ve got a gorgeous home! Your fence goes well with the gingerbread trim on the house. And, smart move on putting up a fence to keep strangers out of your back yard where your dog may pounce on them.

  • October 6, 2015

    Very pretty home! And as someone who got attacked by a dog as a child, you’re a good person for being proactive about preventing your dog from interacting with strangers. Your home, fence included, looks fantastic.

  • December 15, 2015

    Your house is absolutely gorgeous! The fence looks like a fence from a fairy tale. I can wish to have a happy life there! I am moving house soon and the fence at the new house looks like this. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • January 21, 2016

    I really like the look and design of your fence! It looks great with your home, and I can tell you’ve done your research. I know installation can be quite a job, but you’ve done a great job!

    • January 22, 2016

      Thanks so much, Paul! It’s going to take us years, but we’re determined to give her the attention she deserves =)

  • January 22, 2016

    I really love how the gothic picket fence adds to the authenticity of the home’s historic look. It seems like it could have been there since the home was first built. You guys made a great choice with that style!

    • January 22, 2016

      Thank you, Angela! I can’t wait to finish the final side and get this bad boy painted bright white =)

      (We also just built a gate last month to complete the look)

  • March 10, 2016

    I really like the fence you put up. Not many people do the wood fences anymore because they can cost money to keep them during the winter. I think they add a really classic look to the house. Did you have a fence company come out and help you figure out how many posts you needed?

    • March 10, 2016

      Nope! We just estimated on our own (479). We were pretty spot on, too! And thank you =)

      • March 10, 2016
        Charles Kemp

        That’s impressive. We’ll have to try it out!

  • October 31, 2016

    This is fashionable beautiful Gothic Home! Very impressive

  • November 18, 2016

    Hey Kristin
    You have a beautiful home, fence has added extra charm though.You did a great job.Thank you for sharing your experience.

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