08 February 2024

Should I choose fences or walls when setting up a perimeter around my home? And which of these options will add value to my property? The answer depends on personal taste and preference as well as budget. Other factors that come into play can be security and the area in which you live. Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of each option and what the potential implications are for your property’s resale value.

Why fence your property?

There are a few reasons why people fence their properties. We’ll explore a few of these below…

Children and Pets

Being outdoors is not just fun, it’s healthy, but it’s impossible for parents to have eyes everywhere, all the time. Apart from ensuring that your children stay safely within the grounds of the property, a fence or short wall can also be integral to your children’s safety around the pool or other parts of the garden that could otherwise endanger young children. Similarly, fences can keep pets safely inside the property. And, if you’re a keen gardener, and your pups have a penchant for digging, fencing off parts of the garden can be essential.


The other consideration, of course, is whether the type of fence you choose also makes your property less visible from the road and neighbours. High picket fences – that can be either wood or PVC – will make it harder for someone to see into your property than a palisade fence, for example. However, some would argue that fences do not give as much privacy as walls would because people can still see into your property — however, it depends on the type of fence you choose. There are options that offer more or less privacy depending on your preference. If, for example, you are removed from neighbours and overlook beautiful views, then you might want something more transparent, like a glass balustrade fence or a short picket fence.


In South Africa, security is often the major driver behind the fencing of a property. Of course, there is an unending debate about whether walls or fences offer greater security. One of the strongest arguments for fences is that you are often better able to see what happens behind the fence. If you have a high wall, and somebody comes onto your property, nobody will see them (including neighbours who might otherwise have called for help). On the other hand, a wall tends to be a lot harder to break through than a fence would be.

Picking the perfect style boundary wall or fence

If you live in an estate where there are architectural guidelines, you’ll probably have to conform to those, and your choices will be somewhat limited. If not, however, then both aesthetics and budget come into play. Ask yourself what type of fence would enhance the aesthetics of your property and, particularly, curb appeal. If your home reflects the era in which it was built, the style of the fence or boundary wall should complement and/or be of a similar style. If that is not practical, look at the type of fencing that is most popular in the neighbourhood and use that as a guideline.

Height and other restrictions

The height of boundary fences (and walls) is regulated and in terms of the SANS regulations, on street boundaries fences generally may not be higher than 2.1m while solid walls may only be 1.8m high (roughly the same height as a door). Bear in mind that for walls, you may need planning approval because your local authority could consider it what they would dub as a ‘major build’. In addition to a boundary fence, you may need an internal fence — for example, around your pool. Increasingly, local authorities are introducing by-laws that make pool fences mandatory and these enclosures must comply with the South African National Building Standards (SANS). In this case, or if you decide to fence another part of your garden, you have more freedom in terms of your personal taste.


Most structures need some sort of maintenance and fences and boundary walls are no exception, especially as they are exposed to the elements. For example, wooden fences must be painted or treated regularly. Wrought iron and palisade fences can corrode, particularly if you’re close to the ocean. Aluminium fences, on the other hand, are generally installed with an existing weather-resistant coating, which makes them very low maintenance. Vinyl or PVC fencing is similarly low maintenance – depending on the quality. Lower-specification PVC fences – like your outdoor furniture – can be damaged by the sun’s rays and become brittle and/or cracked over time. If you want a very durable PVC fence, make sure that the product you choose contains Titanium Dioxide which is known for its sun protection qualities.

Boundary walls tend to be lower maintenance in general, but they will still require some regular maintenance. Fibrecrete walls, for example, will need to be pressure washed from time to time to avoid them looking grubby. If an external wall has been painted, you will also need to repaint it every so often.


In addition to softening the hardness of a fence, hedges can also add to privacy, help to manage noise, act as windbreaks, and add to your security. For additional security measures, plant thorny, indigenous plants, such as Kei Apples or Num-nums.

Does fencing actually improve the value of your property?

Because security is such a sought-after feature in South Africa, both fences and walls will generally improve the value of your property, but it’s hard to put a figure on it. The value has more to do with having a secure boundary and is less about which option you end up choosing. Ultimately, though, the option that adds to the home’s curb appeal and makes the home more appealing to buyers will add more value than other options. This can be subjective though and will vary from suburb to suburb and from buyer to buyer.

If you have questions about the type of fencing to choose and how it will affect the value of your property, contact your nearest RE/MAX office. As area experts, real estate agents can identify trends and let you know what buyers are looking for in your area.

Have more unanswered questions? Here are some related questions – and answers – that might help…

What type of fence lasts the longest?

Probably the most durable – and solid - fence would be an aluminium one because it withstands harsh sunlight and is the least likely to corrode.

Is vinyl (PVC) fencing cheaper than wood?

Vinyl (PVC) is not necessarily cheaper than wood as the cost will depend on the quality of vinyl and/or wood you choose. You would need to come up with a basis for comparing apples with apples, by researching the specific products in relation to durability, maintenance, installation costs, etc. to be able to answer that question.

Should I attach a fence to my house?

There is no rule that says you should not attach a fence to your house. If this is something you’re thinking about, discuss it with your chosen installer, but bear in mind that depending on how you attach it could have implications for the structural integrity of the building.

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