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life_aquatic 10-24-2012 09:02 AM

building a fence and gate on existing posts that aren't plumb
I have a small patio area that already is mostly enclosed by privacy fence. However in one area next to the walkway to the front door there is no fence. However there are already 3 4x4 posts in that area that support a corrugated metal covering over the walkway. I've been thinking of completely enclosing the patio to give additional privacy to the two bedrooms that access it through sliding patio doors. I would want to put a gate in as well to allow traffic from the walkway to the patio.

My only concern is that the posts already there are not plumb. They seem quite solid, and are tied into the wall of the garage by horizontal 4x4's that support the corrugated metal - when I try to shake them, there is no movement. So trying to re-plumb them seems unlikely.

My main question - would it be possible to attach a gate to these posts, have it work properly and also look good given the existing posts aren't square.

Or should I start from scratch and replace the 4x4's - which I think will be more than I want to bite off for this project and I'll just live without the fence for awhile longer.


joecaption 10-24-2012 09:15 AM

Got a picture?
How far out of plumb are they?
Are they also twisted, or just out of plumb?

I've had cases where we installed the post for a deck, come back the next day to install the slip on post covers and the post was no longer plumb.
I just used a 4' level, set the level on the high area and moved the level until it was plumb, take the measurement of the gap and ripped another 4 X 4 to that angle and attached it to the post. Then slid the cover over it.
Worked for me.

You could also use adjustable gate hindges.

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 09:41 AM

Ok, here's the best photo I had on my phone. My plan is to add fence from the shed (on the right) to the post. Then have two gates between the two posts in the picture. Then to the left of the picture, some more fence until the house. It's been a couple weeks since I did some measurements and looked at the level. I'll have to check that again. If I remember the post on the right leans towards the shed, and the other post leans the other way. There not so out of plumb that it's easy to notice.

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 09:49 AM

For the gates, I've been interested in these

they have a J-bolt hinge that could be screwed in to different depths to help adjust the level (I think it would help - no experience doing a gate).

And the metal framework and turnbuckle seem like they would do a nice job of preventing any sag.

joecaption 10-24-2012 09:51 AM

How is the top and bottom bottom of those post attached?
So you plan on leaving a gap under the gate where that walk way is?

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 09:56 AM

I think the bottom of 4x4 are attached with a metal bracket that is anchored into the cement on the wall. Then I'm not exactly sure how the vertical and horizontal 4x4's are connected, nor do I know how the horizontal 4x4 is anchored to the garage wall. But they seem very solid. I'm pretty big and can't budge them (but I haven't tried throwing myself at one either.)

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 09:57 AM

And yes, I thought I would leave the gap for the step open. And have a few inches between the wall and the fence as well.

user1007 10-24-2012 12:25 PM

Well, you are out of square and out of plumb. Hopefully the posts at least line up but you certainly do not have a great situation for framing a gate. You are probably going to have to use a table saw to taper some 2x to give you sister to the post to give you something approaching a square opening. You had better make sure the posts are anchored top and bottom, especially on the hinge side of the gate, or the weight will tug them from out from under the beams.

It almost looks like the shed and masonry wall were built without consideration of someday enclosing/covering them and the space? And then someone just put the posts in to connect with the beams later as best they could? Is the post furthest from the shed at the end of the masonry ridge too? Otherwise I do not understand why that one would be so out of square/plumb.

It looks like that post at the corner near the shed is skewed its width. It might not look the greatest but I wonder if you could cut a taller one and fit it outside the masonry wall. Same possibility on the other end?

The wire and turnbuckles are an acceptable means to true the gate to itself but will not fix your framing challenge! That is also a pretty wide gap to gate. You might think about two gate panels but not sure how you would join them at the center with that gap at the bottom.

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 12:47 PM

I'm not sure about the shed, but the masonry and the posts are in the original blueprints for the house (from 1962). I bought it 3 yrs ago. I think the angle of the picture makes it look worse than it is. Whether that area was intended to be enclosed or not I can't say. I'm not even totally sure I want to, as it might make the entry way a little claustrophobic.

I've been thinking about putting a horizontal piece between the two posts that could prevent the posts from collapsing in under the weight of the gates. Hoping that it could be somewhat decorative as well. The post you can't see behind the shed (you can see the horizontal piece) is sitting atop a concrete base (also part of the original construction), but there is no wall back there, and I don't intend to put the fence in that direction. .

I'm great at fixing broken things, but terrible at envisioning new projects.

So I think what your saying is that I'll have to cut a 2X at a similar angle to what the post is leaning, attached it to the post to hang the gate from?

life_aquatic 10-24-2012 12:54 PM

Here's another picture from the road to give you an idea. The fence would follow the brick wall from the shed to the house. The post closest to the road would have no fence.

The patio is a nice little space, but the other side of the house is lakefront so I don't spend much time on this side. But the privacy of not having people passing on the road being able to see directly into the large patio doors of a bedroom would be nice.

(And the drain pipe coming out of the garage is another DIY project that I think I've mostly dealt with. It's no longer there).

user1007 10-24-2012 12:58 PM

Hard to tell. Looking at them in the new photo and with the doorframe as a guide they look better. Maybe the camera parallex is playing tricks. When you measure bottom to bottom and top to top of the posts what is the difference the tape gives you?

user1007 10-24-2012 06:07 PM

Just another thought, reading your comments a bit more carefully. If you don't use the side of the house shown, why not just fence and gate off between the garage and the shed? You could make it nice looking and not even offer a hint of a courtyard and bedroom spaces beyond? I think you could make a nice inviting but secure gate entry thinking more or less parallel to the garage and shed. Security wise, if people are already to where you planned the gate in your original post? They are in and on your property?

No offense, but you don't exactly have a stellar looking view from the garage/shed approach now? I can think of great ways to make that gap look spectacular.

Just one other thing to offer. My grandfather, a guy who built church congregations and lived inclusion and diversity, had different names for fences, none of them especially kind. Once I worked for a major University here in Chicago that beefed up and even razor wired its perimeter. No choice but to do so with public housing on two sides? Campus crime soared through the roof (and we were one of two campuses in Chicago that then and still still reports it honestly!). Community leaders suggested the fence was the problem. We had the lowest crime rate of any University in Chicagoland when we took them down. Sometimes fencing can have just the opposite the intended purpose.

Do you have drawings you can scan? Or are they digital. I would be happy to peak and see if I can think of something. I can think of some nice, decorative things to do with spanning that space! I think this aged designer could make that whole approach to the property look more appealing too. You get security and aesthetics and from a DIY forum member!

Just a nagging thing since I was too lazy look see if your license plate was showing? You might want to update your profile with general geographic information so we know where you are? Last year it did not really happen but us native MidWesterners are thinking about eating snow soon.

biggles 10-24-2012 06:50 PM

continue the fence just between the shed and garage then how about a piece of fencing between the one post and that shed the first pix shows looking out to the driveway would be blocked.definitly more then a hasp to lock that gate from the inside..that one piece on the wall will leave that patio open to the walk way

life_aquatic 10-25-2012 11:01 AM

Made some measurements last night. The post are 6' and are only .25" difference from top to bottom. They both lean away from the house at about the same rate. In the other plane they're level. Over the distance of a 2' level there about a .25" gap. I think I'd make gate/fence about 5' tall. So I guess to level the gate there would be a .625" difference between the top and bottom, relative to the post?

Would that amout even be noticable? Or since both posts lean the same would I mount it square with the post, so it lines up with the other post better? Could it be concealed with the slats in some way?

The idea of putting a fence straight across from the shed to the garage, hasn't appealed to me. Maybe because of my limited design insight.

biggles 10-25-2012 12:40 PM

i was thinking it would flow into the line looking from that driveway pix and then leave the porched area open instead of boxing everything in... once thru that 6' gate breeze way between both...

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