Installing a new fence increases the value of your property in more ways than just adding to your privacy, safety and the aesthetics of your landscape. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, professionally landscaped homes fetch up to 20 percent more at the time of resales than properties with less attractive landscapes. To avoid hiring any amateur nearby who cannot deliver this value addition to your property, here are the questions to ask to find the most qualified fence installation contractor near you.
Are You A Licensed Fence Installation Contractor?
Typically, fence installation contractors hold a general or home improvement contractor license. The requirements for this licensure differ by state, usually depending on the contract size and may include passing an exam, insurance, bonding, and registration. For states like Kansas, Kentucky, New York, and Pennsylvania where a state-level license is not required, county or city authorities determine the license requirements for general contractors working in their area. However, after fulfilling all the requirements for a general contractor license, California has a specific exam fence erectors must pass to obtain the license to practice in the state. To be sure of the requirements in your state, county, or city, contact the local consumer protection or licensing agency. Ensure to ask your fence contractor for a copy of their required license to practice in your jurisdiction.
Note, many professional landscapers include fence installation as an additional service offering, and landscapers are required to be licensed in all 50 states. Similarly, your fence builder may hold a certification from the industry leading American Fence Association to attest to their mastery of fence installation. If your fence installer claims membership of these associations, always ask for a copy of their certification.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Fence Installation Contractor?
All occupations are vulnerable to injuries some of which can prove fatal. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 5,333 fatal occupational injuries, 1,088 of which happened in the construction industry-the highest incidences since 2007. In the same year, the Bureau recorded over 888,000 nonfatal occupational injuries across all industries.
As such, if you hire any contractor near you who does not have proper insurance, you will not be protected from any liability if an accident occurs during the job. Both general liability and workers' compensation insurance documentation must be acquired by every contractor. While the former protects the owner's property against any damage, the latter protects the owner from any liability of employee injury. You should ask the contractor if they have both paperwork and insist on seeing them before hiring.
In addition to being insured, a professional fence contractor should also be bonded. A bond offers you financial protection if the contractor defaults on the job, meaning that you will get due compensation if your fence installation contractor fails to complete the job as agreed. Bonding requirements vary by state; hence, you should contact the local consumer protection agency to find out the specific requirements for your locality.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
There are several reasons why you may want a fence installed. It can be for the plain old reason of erecting a barrier around your property. It could also help showcase or enhance the look of your yard. There are different types of fence installations that can help meet various purposes. You need to get good value for your money by hiring a contractor nearby who specializes in the type of fence you intend to install.
The following are common types of fence installation:
- Aluminum Fence: Aluminum fences have a wrought iron look, elegant, and simple. They add beautiful lines to your landscaping and are easy to install
- Bamboo Fence: More suited to warmer climes, bamboo fences are eco-friendly and attractive. It adds style, privacy, and a bit of security to your property.
- Chain Link Fence: Inexpensive, durable, and a low-maintenance option, chain link fences are ideal for pet enclosures and yard fencing if you want to mark a border and give your yard a bit of structure.
- Eco-Stone Fence: Eco-stone fence looks like a precast stone wall and is made of 25% recycled materials. It helps reduce carbon footprint.
- Farm Fence: Largely decorative, a farm fence adds a simple outline to your yard and useful for keeping horses and cows in. It is expensive to install and maintain and may need replacing after some years.
- PVC White-Picket Fence: PVC fences are inexpensive and are designed to look like wood pickets and posts. However, they are designed with wood inside the posts to make them sturdier. It may not be the best option for security but is ideal for privacy and can withstand adverse weather conditions.
- Vinyl White-Picket Fence: Compared to PVC, vinyl fences are sturdier but more expensive to install. It lasts for a long time and can be painted.
- Wood Fence: This is the most popular type of fence. Made of wood, it can be made in various looks and painted. Depending on the type of wood used, some might need replacing after seven years.
- Wrought Iron: Wrought iron fences have black stakes with elegantly designed and unique pieces at the tops. It is typically see-through and sturdy. It is expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. It needs to be sanded for rust and painted often to keep it looking nice.
Who Will Do the Work?
It is important to ask any contractor you intend to hire how many people will be involved in your fence installation job. Typically, the number of persons involved will depend on the scale of the project at hand. Therefore, accurately communicating with your contractor the extent of the work to be done will go a long way in getting the correct answer to the question. Generally, the higher the number of persons involved in the project, the higher the cost estimate. In addition, ensure that all persons working on the job are insured and bonded. This will save you from financial liabilities if any injuries or fatalities occur during the project.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
A warranty is a guarantee given to the customer by the provider of a service or product, validating the integrity and durability of the service or product purchased. Warranties can be implied, oral, or written. It is advisable to obtain warranties in written form. Any professional fence installer near you will be willing to give a warranty for their workmanship.
Fence installation contractors usually give separate warranties on the labor, wood materials, chain link materials, and the PVC materials used. Typically, you will get 2-5 years warranties on the actual fence installation. Manufacturers of vinyl fencing generally offer limited lifetime warranties on their products. You can even get transferable warranties that can be reassigned to a new owner if you sell your house. Warranties have terms and conditions. Ensure all appropriate warranty information is included, clearly stated, and understood.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
If a contractor builds your fence without pulling a permit on the property, you could face fines, be forced to tear it down, and have a lot of trouble selling the property in the future. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your contractor has all the necessary permits before beginning any job. Note that you can also obtain these permits by yourself. Contact the local building department office near you to obtain necessary permits.
Many municipalities enforce zoning laws that regulate fence heights, materials used, and the style of fence to be erected. In many localities, where you live, where on your land you intend to install the fence, and how tall the fence would be, are crucial factors that determine whether you are required to obtain a permit for fence installation. For example, in Austin, Texas, you cannot build a "solid" fence higher than eight feet while in the City of West Fargo, North Dakota fences are not allowed with electrified barbed wire or spiked materials.
Will You Provide References?
Most professional fence installation contractors will provide you with previous references as either part of their professional portfolio or proposal. It is recommended that you ask for a minimum of three references; you request for contact details of clients near you. This portfolio will help you determine if your fence builder has the expertise in erecting the type of fence you planned.
Note, you are at liberty to contact your contractor's previous clients to find out if they were satisfied with the installer's services. Alternatively, you may conduct an online search for the contractor you wish to hire and lookup customer reviews. You can use third-party websites such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Better Business Bureau.
Do You Have a Business License?
Any business that intends to operate legally in the United States must obtain a business license. Many contractors have acquired business licenses that permit them to operate in a particular geographic jurisdiction. Do not mistake a business license for a contractor's license. A contractor's license certifies competency in a particular field and is issued to an individual. It is estimated that there are over 30 million registered small businesses in America.
Make sure to hire a contractor near you that has a valid business license. You can contact the Office of the Secretary of State in your state of residence to verify the authenticity of the business license provided by your contractor.
What Are Common Fence Installation Problems?
Fence installation problems usually arise due to a lack of experience in installation or installing too quickly. Listed below are common fence installation problems:
- Depth Issues: When making holes for fence posts, it is important to maintain consistency and to ensure they are deep enough. Making holes too shallow can weaken a fence. If the holes are not deep enough, the fence may begin to tilt and eventually fall over.
- Insufficient Concrete: To ensure a durable and long-lasting fence, the quick-drying concrete poured into the fence post holes must be sufficient for sturdiness. If the concrete used is not enough, the post will not be set correctly.
- Yard Elevation Issues: One of the most exigent tasks in installing a fence is accounting for small changes in elevation when setting the posts. In order to maintain a completely straight line, you need to calculate the difference in rise and fall for individual sections of your yard.
- Misjudged Property Line: This is more common with fences installed by handymen or DIY installations. It occurs when you mistakenly place your fence on what is technically your neighbor's yard. If that happens, your neighbor could well ask you to remove the fence.
- Gate Installation Issues: A challenging part of installing a fence is fitting the gate yard. Since gate panels have more moving parts than standard fence panels, they tend to give installers trouble. Also, pool fences and gates have specific legal requirements that must be followed.
How Much Does Fence Installation Cost?
Typical costs for installing a fence ranges between $1,665 and $4,058 with the average cost about $2,818. For most common installation materials, the cost is between $13 - $50 per linear foot, inclusive of professional installation. Labor and materials each make up about 50% of total estimates. Labor may run up to $30 - $80 per hour if you purchase your own materials.
Privacy fence costs typically range from $1,500 - $8,250 for a 150-foot privacy fence. In total, it costs $10-$15 per linear foot. Labor costs $750 - $2,250 and materials cost $750 - $6,000. Removing old fencing costs $3 - $5 per linear foot. Wood privacy fences cost $1,000 - $4,500 for 150 linear feet. Vinyl and composite privacy fence costs $3,000 - $6,000 for 150 linear feet.
Aluminum privacy fencing costs $30 - $40 per linear foot. Other aluminum types may cost less. Labor costs $5 to $15 per linear foot for installation. Powder coating costs $2 - $5 square foot.
Below is a breakdown of expected costs for each major material used in fence installation:
What are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Fence Installation Contractor?
Installing a fence can be an enormous project. However, several factors determine what the cost will be. These include:
- Materials: Materials used in fence installation include fence posts, pickets, rails, hardware, and sealants. The cost of these materials varies and can add up to strongly influence the total cost.
- Length and Shape: Cost increases in direct proportion with the length of fences. Polygonal fences that are not rectangular or square also involve additional costs associated with more posts, hardware, and labor
- Height: The height of a fence affects project costs with taller fences costing more than shorter ones.
- Gates: Gates generally cost more than standard paneling but are a useful feature for fenced areas. Gates can be decorative showpieces that enhance the appeal of a fence. As a rule of thumb, gate costs start at about 25% more than a single panel of the same material. Note that gates can be made from other materials aside from wood, such as wrought iron, chain link, or mixed materials, some of which add extra cost to the total estimate. The size of the gate is also important. A standard gate is four feet wide. Much larger gates cost more.
- Additional features: Property owners sometimes choose to fit additional features such as lattice work, post caps, fence toppers, and other popular add-on items for wooden fences to give them more flair and individuality. Of these options, fence panels and lattice work are the most expensive, Lattice work may double the price per panel. The more complex the design, the more expensive the panel will be.
- Labor Rates: Labor wages vary from one location to the other. Hence, depending on the location where a fence installation project will be carried out, the local wage rate may be high or low.
Note, hiring contractors near you help reduce associated expenses like travel, material carriage, and other logistics costs.
What Qualifications Should a Fence Installation Contractors Have?
There are no formal qualifications required of fence installers. However, employers usually prefer people with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Although most employers provide on-the-job-training, previous experience in carpentry or wood shop may be helpful for persons seeking a fence installation job with an employer. Math skills and physical stamina are also useful on the job. As a fence installation contractor, your responsibilities include surveying and measuring land, digging post holes, pouring concrete, and installing posts and fence panels.
You can also obtain certification by earning a Certified Fence Contractor (CFC) certificate from the American Fence Association (AFA). The American Fence Association benefits fence industry professionals and consumers by promoting the highest levels of professionalism, ethics, and product standards, through the education and certification of its members.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Fence Installation Contractor?
There is no one size fits all option for fence installations. Depending on your terrain, such as rockery areas or retaining wall areas, you may require a unique solution that enables you to utilize more of your yard, rather than sacrificing it for your fence. In situations like this and even for simple fence installations, to get the best value for your money, you need to hire a professional instead of any handyman near you. A handyman is unlikely to have enough experience and the tools required to handle any issues that may come up during your fence installation.
Generally, professional fence installers are also licensed, insured, and bonded. This protects you against faulty workmanship and any injuries that happen to workers on your property. A handyman is more likely to be concerned with getting the job done without considering running afoul of the local code violations.
What Are the Common Post Fence Installation Expenses?
Other than leftover dirt or debris that should be hauled away from completing an installation, homeowners may have to regularly paint or coat a fence depending on materials used for the gate. Painting or coating is a maintenance activity designed to retain the elegant look and maintain the lifespan of a fence. Although many professional fence installers will include the cost of disposing of the debris in their estimates, you should always find out from your contractor whether these fees will be included in your bill or whether you will be charged separately for them.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Fence Installation Expenses?
A standard homeowner's insurance is designed to protect your home and belongings from the unexpected. A fence is usually covered for some unexpected events such as damage due to windstorms, hail, lightning, vehicular collisions, fire and smoke, as well as vandalism. Outside of these or similar causes, your fence can only be covered by a homeowner's insurance by purchasing optional coverage options from your insurance company to add to your policy. You should always find out the perils that an insurance company covers and the amount of coverage before you purchase a homeowner's insurance policy.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Fence Installation Contractor?
Fence installer contractors near you, like most small businesses in the US today, would accept digital payment. Digital payment is a transaction carried via digital or online means with no physical exchange of money involved. Although digital payments can be done on physical premises, a larger portion of it is done using bank transfers or digital payment applications on mobile phones or computer systems. Digital payments are much more secure than conventional payment methods because they are processed by secure gateways which are hard to tamper with. Most platforms use strict regulations and protection mechanisms to keep transactions safe.