The Fence Saga Part 1: Lakewood, Ohio Permits

In At Home by Michelle KowalskiLeave a Comment

What do you get the girl who has everything?

A fence.

That was my mom’s logic this year for my 26th birthday. So I finally moved the back fence to the right spot!


You’ve heard about the Crystal Palace’s previous owner, Crystal Linda, and her quirky paint colors. She also had quirky fence placement. Specifically, she installed the fence 3–5 feet inside the property line. And didn’t seal the wood, so it was filthy and rotting in places. Thanks, Linda! While working on this project I heard from several neighbors that she moved the fence to try to avoid taking ownership of a massive dying tree on the property. The tree fell down and destroyed a ton of stuff the year before I bought the house. Now I was left with a giant stump outside of a fence in the wrong spot. The back fence was never stained so some of the pickets were in rough shape and the color was off compared to the stained fence along the side.

Getting a permit

Figuring out the right process for moving my fence was more of a pain than I thought it would be. I needed to find out who technically owned the tree stump and where I was supposed to install the new fence. I knew I had seen a survey of my property in with my house buying documents, but my leather tote bag filing system made it hard to find the right paper. So I tried searching the Lakewood city website to try to find out where the official property line was. I emailed someone in the building department and was told that the city is not in charge of property lines or surveys, but that books of old plot maps were stored in the city hall basement. Property Lines are determined by third-party survey companies or are decided between neighbors. At this point, I didn’t know my neighbors and was worried they wouldn’t be too pleased to lose what they thought was 5′ of their backyard. I went back to digging through tote bags and found my survey which clearly shows where the property line is. I referenced any information about applying for building permits in Lakewood and over prepared by making the following documents in addition to filling out several forms:



I went to the building department in the basement of city hall and handed over my stack of papers. I learned that fence permits in Lakewood cost $25 and typically take a couple of days to be processed. I heard back the next day and went back to city hall to pick up the permits. I got several copies in order to have backups if the one I posted got ruined, but I was able to use the laminator that I impulse bought last year, so one copy lasted the whole project. Now that purchase is totally justified.

Stump Removal

Once I had the permit, I removed the section of the fence that was connected to my garage and was able to take a better look at the MASSIVE tree stump, sorry I don’t have any better pictures.


My neighbors had been hacking away at the stump for the last year, so I knew they weren’t going to pay to grind it any time soon. I called a few stump grinding companies and StumpPro came out later in the week and was able to take care of the stump right away. I learned that stump grinders are like giant remote control cars with a blade-wheel that drive over the stump multiple times until it is all chewed up. See for yourself in this video (I wasn’t sure what the safe distance was for filming, so some of this is obscured by the fence):

The whole process only took about 15 minutes and he was able to grind out another smaller stump that fell on the new fence line. After that was done, I was left with this massive pile of dirt/wood.

stump-dirt-pile stump-dirt-pile-2


I leveled it out as best I could and moved piles of dirt to a different corner of my yard to get the area ready for the new fence. Part two: staining the panels is coming up soon!

Lakewood Fence Permit Summary:

  • Lakewood property lines are determined between neighbors or by paying a third party survey company
  • Fence Permits cost $25 and you apply in the basement of City Hall at 12650 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107
  • Laminators are AWESOME
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About The Author

Michelle Kowalski

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Michelle tries things in Cleveland, Ohio.