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dgb48 09-09-2012 08:48 PM

Brick columns for wood fence
I'm in a bind and need advice from a brick mason. I apologize in advance for such a long post.

I recently purchased a home in a neighborhood where most street-side fences have brick columns, or posts if you will. They tend to be around 16" to 18" per side. Some fences are wood, others wrought iron and some a combination of iron and brick.

I couldn't afford the fanciest type but after getting six bids finally chose a contractor who rated very high on Angie's list (in fact he won an award from them last year) and said he could sub out the brick columns, no problem. Oddly enough, of the six fence companies I contacted, only two would even handle the brick columns for me.

His bid was slightly less than one of the better known companies in Oklahoma City, but not much.

He started the job this past Friday by meeting the brick mason to pour some footings for three columns. I had to work but took off long enough to drop by and see how things were going. When I got there, the brick mason had three 2x4 forms (roughly square, but not perfect by any means) lying on the ground where he had dug down just an inch or so to remove the sod.

I asked if he was going to pour a footing and he said that was it. I asked the fence contractor how he planned on attaching the fence to the columns thinking that perhaps he would sink posts in concrete on either side of the column. No, he planned on attaching the fence directly to the column.

I said it seemed to me that with the kinds of winds we regularly get in Oklahoma that might not be the best idea. Frankly, I was shocked.

They said if it would make me feel better they could dig down a little farther. Well, I have been accused many times of being too particular and I promised my wife I wasn't going to do that on this house so I bit my tongue and figured I just didn't know what I was talking about.

The mason was supposed to show up Saturday to build the columns but was a no show. Today I went to the house and put a tape on the footings. They are adding two columns for fence which will attach to a brick column on my neighbor's property. I told them to just put the far column four feet from my driveway and the other exactly in the middle of that one and my neighbor's. When measured today the center footing (if you can call it that) was off by four inches.

There are other problems that I see (or at least think I see) but I've gone on too long already. Here's the main issue.

Should there be a deep footing beneath column's holding up a twelve-foot span of six-foot tall board fence? Should there be rebar? Am I worried about nothing, or should I be concerned?

Thanks in advance!

Msradell 09-09-2012 09:06 PM

!?! You're kidding about the footers about the footers only being that deep aren't you? What if they are planning to do is a plan for disaster! The footings need to go down several feet (below the frost line) even if you don't consider the wind loading. Taking that into account the need to go even deeper. Those sections of fence are going to act like large sails and I'm sure the fence wouldn't last long. I'm not quite sure what would be appropriate for the wind loading but I can tell you without question that what they're doing is not adequate!

dgb48 09-09-2012 09:45 PM

No, I'm not kidding...
That's what I thought exactly. But I'm about to cancel a $10,000 contract and I wanted to be sure. I'm a pretty good carpenter, a very good computer technician and have seen a lot in my 64 years, but I've never done much masonry or had much done for that matter. I thought perhaps they were going to sink posts in concrete and treat the columns as pure decoration.

Hell, I'm not sure what I thought. But my sense was it was wrong, wrong, wrong and I wanted them off the job. Sounds like I need to trust my instincts.

Thanks for your reply!

Msradell 09-09-2012 09:50 PM

You're welcome, hope to get it straightened out.

joecaption 09-09-2012 10:27 PM

That's the kind of base you would put in for a side walk not a fence.
For bigger coloums like that most often the footing is placed below the frost line. Then concrete blocks are used in the core with brick ties, then a brick facing goes on the outside.

dakzaag 03-15-2013 01:03 PM

I'm pretty sure the frost line in OK is about 1" so the footer sounds to be about right. Supporting the fence with those pillars will not be a problem, but if the spacing isn't right, that will be a problem.

Let's see, you used Angies list to select your contractor and now your having doubts? I'm shocked to say the least...:eek: :jester:

Maybe you should go to the brick yard and ask there, they probably know a few reputable brick layers...:thumbup:

Tscarborough 03-15-2013 11:51 PM

I think you should do it yourself. WTF does the squareness of a buried footing matter? How big is the footing in relation to the column?

Edit- 4" off center in how many feet? I doubt many of your neighbors or cars on the street will be pulling a tape on your fence.

tony.g 03-16-2013 11:54 AM

Old Post! Either he's sacked the contractor, or the fence has blown over by now.:laughing:

Tscarborough 03-16-2013 05:41 PM

He has probably been through 5 contractors and is involved with lawsuits with all of them. Not that they may not deserve it, but he seems to be one of those guys who expects to pay for draft beer and be served Moet-Chandon.

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