What to know before having a fence constructed?
Before you commit to building a fence around your property, there are a few things you need to take into consideration:
- Your city’s building codes - A quick check with your local zoning office will let you know how high and how wide your fence can be. Some cities may also have additional restrictions, such as what color or material can be used.
- Your property lines - When considering fence building, you must know exactly where your property lines are. Erecting a fence on your neighbor’s property can result in your fence being removed.
- What you want - You’ll need to decide what you want your fence to do. Is it for privacy? Is it to separate your property from others? Is it for security? Are you only fencing off part of your property? Asking yourself these questions will help you decide where you want the fence to go and what it will look like.
- The materials - White picket fences look great, but wood fences need to be sealed to withstand the weather. Other materials include aluminum, vinyl, wrought iron, chain link, steel, PVC, or a combination of these. You’ll need to choose a material that suits your needs, your sense of style, the climate where you live, and your budget.
- Hire a professional - Fence installation companies near you know their job. A good fencing installer will work with you to establish the fencing type that best suits your wants and needs and provide a warranty in the event of breakage or poor workmanship.
- Tell your neighbors - Your neighbors should know why the contractors are there, especially if they need to cross the property line to get the work done. If the fence runs along the property line, your neighbor may have grounds to have it removed if they don’t like it.
- The location of the entrances - You need to determine where the gates will be. Logically, the gates would be at the start of any path or driveway leading to your home.
- Customizing your fence - Your fence is a reflection of your personal style, so you should consider whether you’ll include decorative accents and what color you’ll choose to paint it.
- Your budget - Ultimately, your budget will be the deciding factor in what material you choose and how much fencing there will be.
- The climate - Weather can damage fences, without even considering storms or other extreme weather. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, for example, wood fences will rot faster than they would in a more temperate climate. When choosing a material, consider the climate where you live and how it might affect your chosen material.
Why should I hire a contractor for fence construction?
Building a fence on your own has two big benefits: it’s cheaper than hiring a professional fence installer and you know exactly what kind of work has gone into the job. The cost of materials can run from $9 to $14 per square foot, making DIY fences markedly less expensive. There are significant drawbacks to doing the job yourself, though:
- Not having the proper materials or tools - Aside from buying the fencing materials you want, you’ll also need to have the right tools to dig post holes, mix and pour the concrete, level the fence, and more.
- Securing the fence - Without the benefit of experience, you may have trouble securing the fence so that it can withstand stormy weather or an intruder climbing it.
- Workmanship and breakage - If your materials break or the fence has a fault due to poor workmanship, you will be on the hook for the cost of repairs or replacement.
Building a fence yourself may be cheaper in the short term, but you can run into additional costs over time. The biggest drawback in hiring a professional fence installer is paying the labor cost - between $5 and $10 per foot - on top of the materials. There are significant benefits, however:
- Tools - A professional fence installer already has the tools they need to do the job.
- Knowledge - Fence installers know the regulations in their city or town. They can also work with you to establish the best materials and styles for your needs.
- Time span - Building a fence may take you a few weeks, but a contractor can complete the job in a few days.
- Securing the fence - A professional contractor knows how to properly secure a fence to withstand the elements or possible intruders.
- Warranty - Professional contractors will usually offer a warranty on their work in case of material breakage or poor workmanship.
How to hire a good fence contractor?
No matter what job you’re hiring a contractor for, it’s always a good idea to do some prep work and research before settling on the right company. Hiring a fencing installer is no different. Here’s a quick list of things you need to do before settling on a contractor for your fencing job:
- Prepare a list - A quick online search for “fence installation companies near me” will yield a selection of local fencing installers. Create a list of several contractors, from which you’ll ultimately choose the contractor for your fencing job.
- Questions - Write down questions you’d like to ask each contractor. You should ask about the contractor’s insurance, how much experience they have, whether the contractor handles obtaining permits, whether all materials are included in the final cost, and how the contractor locates the utilities buried in the work area.
- Contact and Interview - Start contacting the contractors on your list. In the phone interview, ask your questions and make a note of the answers. You may also want to establish a time to meet the contractor to get a proper estimate for the job.
- Get references - The interview may answer the questions you wrote down, but ultimately, previous customers' experiences can make your decision for you. If you can get references from the contractor, contact those references and ask about the job quality.
- Choose and hire - Once you have gone through all the previous steps, the final step is to make a choice. Once you agree on the price and timeline, you’ll want to draw up and sign a contract that outlines what is expected of you both, the price, the timeline, and any other pertinent information.
What are the pros and cons of fence material options?
Each type of fencing material has its pros and cons. When choosing what material to use, you should consider whether it works for the climate you live in and how it stacks up against other material options.
- Wood fencing is easy to customize and makes a great privacy barrier. The price range of wood fencing varies depending on the type of wood you want, from $8 to $13 per linear foot. Wood is pretty and inexpensive, but it is not as durable as other material options.
- Aluminum fencing offers high durability that can stand up to intruders, and whatever Mother Nature can dish out. The aluminum fencing costs between $19 to $28 per linear foot, depending on height and material quality. The downside of aluminum fencing is that it doesn’t work well for privacy fences.
- Chain link fencing is one of the least expensive options, and it can be virtually any height. The price range for chain link fencing is between $8 to $16 per linear foot, depending on height, wire gauge, and whether the chain link has a vinyl coating on it. This fencing is quick to install, but uncoated chain links will rust over time.
- Vinyl fencing is highly durable and comes in many design options. The average cost of vinyl fencing ranges between $10 and $16 per linear foot, depending on design, height, and material quality. Vinyl fencing is a low-maintenance option, but it does tend to be susceptible to algae, mold, and mildew, depending on the climate.
- Wrought iron fencing can be beautiful, lending extra curb appeal to your home. As a primarily decorative option, wrought iron ranges between $8 to $13 per linear foot, depending on height, design, and material quality. This fencing is best suited for drier climates, as it tends to rust over time. An application of rust-proofing paint such as Rust-Oleum Stops Rust will help.
- PVC fencing averages between $18 and $35 per linear foot, but it offers a high level of durability and aesthetics. PVC fencing can be designed to look like wood or virtually any other material, and it’s resistant to rot. Aside from the cost, the biggest downside of PVC fencing is that it can become brittle over time.
- Steel fencing offers a high level of durability at an average cost of $19 to $31 per linear foot. Steel is a strong material that resists corrosion and is well suited to areas with extreme weather. Where DIY installation is optional for many fencing types, professional installation is necessary for steel fencing due to its heavy weight.
How much does it cost to hire someone to build a fence?
When you hire a fencing installer, you aren’t just paying the labor cost. You are paying to benefit from their years of experience, knowledge of the job, city building codes, equipment, warranty, and insurance coverage. When you decide on a contractor, ensure they’re well-reviewed and adequately insured. After all, accidents can happen no matter how good a person is at their work.
All these factors, including where you live, contribute to the cost of hiring a professional for your fencing project. It’s important to note that fencing installers charge for labor according to how long the required fence is, rather than a flat rate. With that in mind, you can expect to pay between $5 and $25 for labor per linear foot, depending on the material, the height, and the project's complexity. So, 100 feet of fencing could cost you between $500 and $2500 for labor in addition to the material cost.
What fence lasts the longest?
Durability is probably the most important part of choosing the right material when building a fence. Aside from the cost and the design, you’ll want to know how long you can expect your fence to last. Wrought iron fencing, for example, is one of the most durable materials you can buy. A properly maintained wrought iron fence can be expected to last a lifetime as long as it’s not in a wet climate.
Even under ideal circumstances, wood fencing will show signs of rotting after 15 years. So, a homeowner needs to know how durable they can expect their choice to be, under various climate conditions, along with what is required to maintain it.
What is the best type of wood fence?
There are so many different types and styles of wood fencing, so it’s hard to say which is best. Each type of wood has its characteristics, so choosing the “best” type boils down to personal choice. Here are a few of the most popular woods:
- Cedar - A softwood, cedar fencing typically has a lifespan of over 30 years. Since cedar is naturally resistant to insects and rot, it’s a good choice for fencing. The downside of cedar is that you’ll need several coats if you want to paint it. The natural color of cedar is difficult to paint over.
- Pine - Pine is naturally resistant to shock and easier to work with than other wood types. It’s cheaper than cedar, but it tends to get damaged much easier.
- Oak - A light-colored hardwood, oak has a wavy grain and visible knots that give it a distinctive look. Natural finishes are best for oak fencing since stains darken the wood and create a two-tone appearance.
- Redwood - Although redwood is costly, it’s one of the most common woods used for fencing. Redwood resists decay and insects, but the elements can damage the wood if it’s not properly sealed.