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What to Look for in Fence Contracting  

In this profession, not all contractors are created equal. This article will help you determine the differences in services, products and their effect on the price and appearance of a project. 

Fence Installer of Wood Pickets

SUBMITTED:       Pro Fence Design

POSTED:                January 2022

Though your Google or Angi search produced a good slate, your work is just beginning. Generally speaking, the caliber of contractor can be divided into;

  • Handyman

  • Landscape Contractor

  • Fence Contractor or Fence Design Firm

From whichever you receive an estimate, there are several product and service differentiators to consider.  Below are the important ones to evaluate before, during, and after your fence is in the ground.

Handyman or Landscape Contractor vs. Fence Contractor

These professionals’ tools of their trade may be similar, but there are many which a fence contractor has the most experience. Your landscaper may have a post hole digger, but not carry the power tools to cut, trim and customize fence materials to deliver the best results. Other tools that may be short in their repertoire include laser and sight levels, fence line reels, diamond core drill bits, line markers and tape...just to name a few.  From a workmanship standpoint, a fence contractor's primary expertise is to set dead-plumb posts in the ground and then create precise cuts of materials to ensure fence panels are built, fastened, leveled, and installed properly.  Ask a fence contractor how many times they had to reset fence installed by a landscaper or handyman and you are bound to hear a double-digit response.

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Fence Contactor vs. Fence Contractor / Design Firm

With your group of estimates now in hand, you probably have one high, one low and maybe one in the middle. The market price for a professional fence panel is fairly standard thus the differences you will find in pricing tend to come down to several, very important considerations.


Licensed, Bonded, Insured, Warrantied, Associated or "NOT"

These critical approbations are part of the cost structure of a contractor business and are essential to limit the liability you may incur with the team installing your fence. If you do not see or hear of them, proceed with caution.

A bonded contractor has a performance bond which prevents them from using monies paid by you for anything but your project. This fiduciary responsibility also protects your down-payment should, for whatever reason, the contractor cannot fulfill the installation. In the event such ever occurs, reputable businesses return the deposit with interest.

Warranties are also important to consider as in the initial year after your install, normal shifting of the soil my require a fix in your fence. A warrantied contractor will not only meet this 1-3 year workmanship repair, they will also extend to you the  product warranties they get from factories. This can be from 2-years for wood, to 20+ years for vinyl.

Associations such as the Better Business Bureau and industry group membership including the AFA (American Fence Association) are also indicative of a business dedicated to their trade. 


Material Quality

Materials make a difference. Even between professionals, there are variations in all materials that can be price-reducing in the short term, but cost much more down the line.

  • Wood rails can be very cheap 2"x3” (Home Center) or the professional 2"x4” standard. Cedar boards can also be obtained more cheaply as ¾” x 3 1/2” vs. the standard 1X4”. The thicker the wood the better

  • Chain-link installs may try to save costs by using 1 5/8” line posts as gate and corner posts – again, thicker means better as the standard is 2” for ends and up to 3” for gate posts

  • Cheap vinyl will be glossy, and very shiny vs. a nicer looking, matte finish that will not glare in the sun - read more on this here

  • Weak vinyl gates can be screwed together with a bar-tensioned back instead of crossmember and trussed - read more on this here 

  • Aluminum posts can also be sourced cheaper to cut costs by using lesser diameter posts and spray painted, vs. powder coated materials

For whichever material, make sure you are getting the right spec and the warranties you deserve.

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Install Quality and Oversight

A good install team is driven to do the best job the first time around and avoid coming back out to fix any shortcuts taken during install. Thankfully, these are not numerous, but they have an effect on the project’s price.

Wet vs. Dry set Cement and Number of Bags Used

There are those may want to cut costs but using little to no cement for each hole. The highest market standard is 80# of wet- mix concrete pre hole.  Some contractors skip this step and simply pour in a bag of dry cement into hole and add water which inevitably causes problems in the Northeast. Other groups may use 50# bags vs. 80# bags and some will not use any at all.


Job Oversight

Certain companies don’t allocate time and talent for the job to be coordinated by the company owner or design engineer. It is important for customers to have immediate access the person ultimately responsible for your project. You should expect this level of engagement and attention.


Securing Sections

Cheaper, less quantity, or no fasteners to secure your fence panels into posts is yet another cost saving measure. Some products use click-tabs to connect fence components which can leave the fence shaky or misaligned. These systems will reduce a project’s price, but not keep your fence up for very long.


Post Setting

Good contractors make sure each fence post is set sturdily into the ground. The right amount of cement is important, but the depth the posts is essential. Contractors that do not maintain this standard or do not have a core hole drill in-hand may save on this cost, but they will not set your post hole to the necessary depth.

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For more information like this, click below to go to our posts.
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Speak with a Pro 

Speaking with an experienced fence designer or installer can answer a number of questions ahead of any fence or railing project. Get input on material choices, fence types, models, regulations and project timelines from one of our pros.

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