Don’t stay on the fence—hire a contractor with confidence
A fence is a gateway to your home, framing your house from the street and providing what is often the first glimpse of your home that visitors will get. Because of that, when adding a new fence, you want to ensure the job is done correctly and be confident that the beautiful fence style you selected will be built to last. With plenty of other projects on your plate, how can you be sure to choose a reliable contractor who is suited to install the best fence for your yard?
Read on to find out how to research fence contractors, understand your options, and choose the right company for the needs of your home landscape.
Common Projects to Use a Fence Contractor For
Whether you’re looking for a white picket fence or your privacy fence needs repair, a fencing contractor can help.
Here’s a look at the various projects a fence contractor can handle:
Fencing design and material recommendations based on your needs
Fence building and installation
Permits for building and zoning requirements
Fence and gate maintenance and repairs
Boundary and utility marking
Fence gate design, building, and installation
How to Find a Fence Contractor
Before you start evaluating potential fence contractors, do your research to gain a fuller understanding of the options in your area.
Search sites like Angi to read reviews and recommendations of local fence contractors. Talk to friends and family to get feedback on contractors they’ve worked with and recommend. You can even drive around your neighborhood and look for homes with the kind of fences you’d like for your yard, including a possible chain link fence. Many newly installed fences feature badges with the company's name that installed them. You can also ask around at your local hardware store.
Don’t be afraid to cast a wide net. When possible, it’s a good move to hire a contractor who specializes in fencing so that you know they have plenty of the right kind of experience. But if the options for fence contractors in your area are somewhat sparse, other kinds of pros can install your fence. As you compile your options, look into local general contractors and nearby licensed handyperson services. You might also consider landscapers in your area, especially if the job will require re-grading land or moving a lot of dirt.
Before Hiring a Fence Contractor
There are a few steps you should take while evaluating different fence contractors and before making your decision.
Figure Out if You Need Permits
In many jurisdictions, installing or altering a fence requires a building permit. Understand everything that your local codes require so that you can confirm your contractor will be handling the necessary permit applications and will coordinate with inspectors.
Check the Building Site
The total cost of your fence installation depends, to a large degree, on the nature of the land where it will be built.
Factors that may increase the price of adding a fence include trees, boulders, and uneven grading. You should also consider access to the site: Will workers have a difficult time hauling large and heavy equipment to the area from where they park? If so, your costs will probably rise a bit.
Make Sure They’ve Got the Right Qualifications
Before hiring a fence contractor, make sure they have the right qualifications for your project.
Credentials: Check with your state’s licensing requirements to ensure the contractor is qualified to build and install your new fence, as well as offer repairs and maintenance. Often, states will require a fencing contractor to hold a general contractor’s license, but it varies.
Education: While a college degree isn’t a requirement to become a fencing contractor, many contractors get training through trade schools and on-the-job experience.
Insurance: Your fencing contractor should have general liability insurance to ensure you won’t be held liable for any problems that may arise during installation.
Ongoing training: Find out whether the contractor belongs to any trade groups, like the American Fence Association, so you can be confident they’re keeping up with the latest developments and best practices in the field.
Understand the Average Costs
Before soliciting quotes from contractors in your area, it’s helpful to understand the average costs of installing fencing. Homeowners typically pay between $1,500 and $8,000 to install a fence, depending on a variety of factors.
One of the most significant considerations is the total length of the fence, with most materials sold by the linear foot. The average costs differ considerably depending on the material. For example, the cost of vinyl fencing typically falls between $10 to $35 per linear foot, while barbed wire fencing goes for a price between $1 to $6 per linear foot.
Nationally, fencing contractors charge an average of $50 per hour for labor, with most jobs requiring between 24 and 72 labor hours.
Get Multiple Estimates
As with other types of major home improvement hires, getting estimates from multiple different fence contractors is a good idea. This strategy is the best way to get a reliable and detailed sense of the average cost range and to better understand the various tradeoffs between quality, convenience, and cost.
Fence installation is a competitive field, so most contractors will be prepared to make and provide an estimate relatively quickly. The best, most reliable estimates will involve a home visit from the contractor to survey the site. Since it’s an exterior job, this can often happen while you’re not home, but if you’re interviewing them as well, you can do both of these tasks at once.
Make sure to get the estimate in writing. A contractor who will only offer a handshake agreement isn’t worth it. You should also ask how long the estimate is good for so you know how much time you have to weigh your options.
Questions to Ask a Fencing Contractor
After you’ve narrowed your list down to the most likely candidates, call each potential contractor to ask the important questions.
Can I see a portfolio of your work? Most fence contractors should have a portfolio on hand that should provide reliable evidence of the range of work they can do.
Can you provide references? A good contractor should be able to point you to satisfied clients who can provide a reference. Aim to get around three.
Do you take care of permits? Installing a fence typically requires a building permit, and if you’re paying a contractor, you want one who will take care of this complicated, expensive process.
Will you locate all utilities? Whenever you’re digging into the ground, you need to make sure that you’re aware of all the utility lines—electricity, water, natural gas, cable—that may lie beneath. Find out whether the contract will take care of this process or if you need to call 811 first.
How does zoning affect the installation? Local zoning regulations may stipulate certain requirements or limitations for adding a fence to your home. Even if you’ve already done the necessary research, this question offers a good opportunity to better understand the contractors’ knowledge and experience.
Will you handle grading? If your yard slopes in places you want to install your fence, the project may require some initial landscaping work. Is this something the fence contractor can do, or does it need to be taken care of separately?
How will you install the fence? Ask for details of their installation process and find out how they plan to proceed through each step of the process. Do they plan to set the posts in concrete? If so, how deep? Do they install dirt domes around each post? Are gates and hardware included as part of the fee, or will they require an additional charge? Will they take care of waste removal and hauling, or do you need to make separate arrangements?
How large is your crew? Discuss how many additional workers will be joining the contractor for the installation. Do they hire subcontractors for any part of the job, or is it all done by employees? Will the owner of the company or a foreman be on-site?
What’s the timeline? Find out how long the contractor anticipates the job will take.
How do you structure your fees? Figure out whether they’ll offer a flat rate for the job or whether they’ll charge by the hour. Do they provide a written contract? Do they require a deposit? When is payment due?
What to Do Before Your Fencing Project Begins
Congrats! You’ve combed through the estimates and made your decision. You’re one step closer to surrounding your house with the stylish wood lattice fence of your dreams, but there are still a few more things to do.
Get Details on the Warranty
Before work begins, make sure you fully understand the warranty provided by the contractor. Does it cover materials in addition to labor? Do the materials come with their own manufacturer’s warranty?
Most crucial is the length of the term. A fence should last a long time, and the warranty should too. Three years is the industry standard, but some contractors offer warranties that last as long as nine.
Keep in mind that if you’re working with a handyperson, they are unlikely to provide a warranty.
Prepare for Their Arrival
Before the contractor and their crew show up to begin work on the fence installation, make sure you’ve done everything required to get them off to a smooth start. Ensure that your pets are locked away from the areas where the contractor will be working. Clear the yard of hoses, toys, tools, and any other debris that might be in the way.
Set yourself up somewhere you are accessible to ask any questions that may arise, but where you’re not in the way of the crew trying to get your job done as efficiently as possible.
After the Fence Contractor Has Finished
Your fence has been installed, and hopefully, it’s even more stunning than you hoped. You’re almost totally done.
Make Your Payment
Most home improvement contractors receive payment after the work has been completed (or the bulk of payment at least, since you will have presumably paid a deposit). Keep up your end of the bargain and show the contractor your appreciation for their good work by making payment promptly in the time agreed.
Leave Reviews and Tell Your Friends
Now you know better than anyone all the work required to find a solid fence contractor. Save friends, neighbors, and even strangers all that trouble by spreading the good word about the contractor you worked with—and show your thanks to the contractor for a job well done. Leave a review and share the contractor’s details with all who ask.