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Hello,
I would really appreciate some feedback about a cedar fence that we had built. We are very happy with the way it looks but are a little concerned about whether it is structurally strong, long term.
I hope my pictures attached.

Our fence is 6ft but kind of steps down..(sorry I am not sure of the correct term). Anyway, we have posts and one stringer attached to the bottom and that is it. There is not a second stringer meeting the post horizontally. There is one stringer at the very top of the fence, part of the reason being so that there could be a cap on top.
Anyway, I feel the fence is wobbly in places, especially the taller sloping downward parts. I feel there should be a another stringer meeting the post?

Can you please help by looking at my pictures to let me know if I should have another stringer, 2 total across the posts? I just am not totally experienced with this kind of thing and would like to talk with builder sooner than later about this issue. It makes me nervous.

Thank you so much.
The wife....of David Hay
 

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I hope the PVC pie is not a post

That 2" PVC pipe is not rigid enough to be a post for a fence. It should be replaced with a 4 x 4 post in each case. Whose idea was that? If you need or want to use PVC then a 4" shedule 40 wall thickness is what I would recommend at a minimum. I've built a whole lot of fences and gates, never used PVC for a post yet. :no:
 

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metal? , that's better!

The post are metal posts. Isn't PVC plastic?
I would appreciate any further feedback...please help.
Thank you so much.
It's hard to tell in the photo, but PVC is white also so I assumed it was.... :blink:

I still wonder if that pipe is rigid enough. If you can move the fence at the top easily 1" or more, then it's probably not the right material or method. My preference would be a 4 x 4 post Cedar or pressure treated. It can run right up to the horizontal rather then all the way to the top. That last 15" or so won't matter ...JMO. The verticals are what make the fence resistant to movement...wobble proof, not the horizontals. A real professional would notch out the post for the horizontal, running it all the way to the top for appearance sake.
So, you make be "stuck" with metal posts I donno? but not my preference. They're kinda ugly. :thumbdown:
 

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Posts do not need to be 4x4, unless they are made from wood. If they are made of plastic, they better be mated with something stronger. If they are made of steel pipe, like I assume these are, they should be just fine, as long as they are plenty deep (below the frost line or at least a couple of feet if the frost line is not that deep), and anchored in concrete.

My concern is with your stringers. I don't know if you need 2 or 3, but they should connect to the post. The purpose of the stringer is to support the individual fence boards and transfer that load to the posts. The bottom ones may be ok, because it appears that they are attached to the fence boards close to the posts. But, it would be better to provide a stronger connection to the posts. The top stringers are so far from the posts that the fence board is essentially working as the post. And, it is a little less than the 4x4 required for a wood post. This is even worse where the fence steps down, because the two stringers do not line up. This wouldn't be a problem if they were attached to a sturdy post, but they are not, so it is. I am also guessing that the top of the high side is further from top of the post where it steps down, which would also make it weaker there than on the flat parts.

My last concern is whether or not there is anything keeping it from sliding down the post besides friction. This won't show up as a problem now, but could as the fence ages. Once things loosen up so the fence can slide down, you will get an uneven look at the top and the fence boards in contact with the ground will begin to rot.

Here is my recommendation on how I would fix it.

First, I would add some brackets that screwed into both the posts and the bottom stringers.

Second, I would address the top stringers. You probably can't get them connected to the posts without it ruining the look of the fence or completely re-building it. But, I would at least make a better connection between the stringers where it steps down. At a minimum, I would add a piece of the stringer going straight down between them to add strength to the fence board they are attached to. I might also add an angled piece going up from the low stringer to the high stringer.

Third, I would get some attached to the top of the posts. Depending on how it looked, I might try a piece of stringer going from the top stringers straight down to the top of the post and use a bracket to attach the two together. But, this probably is not sufficient, so I would add a third row of stringers at the top of the posts or slightly lower and attach them like the bottom stringers. Where the fence steps, you can either run them straight from the top of the lower post, or you could angle them up from the top of the lower post to the top of the higher post. This may not give you the look you, but at this point, it is probably the best option. Based on how tall the fence is, it may have needed a third rail anyway.
 

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lot's of unknowns here

The climate may not freeze...California for example, so no need for a frost depth post of 4ft. The metal pipe may be set in concrete? That should be plenty rigid if 24" or so deep and 8" in diameter. The fence is "wobbly" at the top. OK, where does it bend from.... the base of the pipe at ground level? If so, that's a big problem and they have to come out. Replace them with full length 4" x 4" as suggested many times above.

Another solution involving less work or tear out would be to box in around the existing pipe using fence boards and notching for the rails, giving more rigidity to the verticals, which is the source of the wobble. Adding stringers/horizontals will not solve the wobble issue. If the pipe is NOT set in concrete and just driven into the soil that's the main problem, since the 2" round pipe will just compress the soil around it with no resistance to movement.

We need some answers to be more helpful. And who will be doing the rework if need? The contractor or yourself? The might be a issue in dealing with an inexperienced contractor....which in this case appears to be the case....I hope not. :smile:
 

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I agree with woodnthings on the posts. If the posts are not anchored in concrete they have to come out, no matter what material is used for the post. The 4x4 post covering the steel post is a good approach as long as it is done right and the pipes are not part of the look you are going for. The 4x4 top part would need to be rigidly connected to the pipe and the bottom half would need to done in a way to blend it in with the top. The best way would be to notch out the back of a single 4x4 to go around the post. This assumes you have the tools and patience to do this. You would still need to make sure it was securely attached.
 

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If I may let me summarize what has been said in 5 words. You need to start over. Take it all down and put in proper posts and sufficient stringers. Posts to match the boards would be best. However, whatever is used must go to the top. Three (3) stringers are needed. What you have there now does not look good, regardless of strength.

George
 

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I think the posts are inadequate. Any fence I've seen done they used 2 3/4" posts with 1/4" sidewall and as tall as the fence set in concrete. I think an additional horizontal 2x4 in the center would help. The fence will probably last until you get substantial straight line winds. Since it's built I would wait until then and replace the posts.
 
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