Purchasing a fence can be confusing. One doesn’t buy a fence very often, but when you do, you want your fence to last a long time and look great for years to come. Most people are unaware of the many variables that go into the building and installation of a fence. The less you know, the more likely you are to pay more for an inferior product that may not even last long. Protect yourself up front by understanding what is important, what to demand, and what to avoid at all costs. These tips will help you to manage your expectations for your project.
- What do I need to know to make a smart buying decision?
Although there is a lot to know about what goes into making smart decisions in purchasing a fence, it comes down to the quality and variety of materials. It also prudent to compare construction and installation techniques, competitive pricing, and the experience of the company to ensure that you get the fence that is right for you at the right price.
- How do you know if the company has the proper experience?
A good fence company will spend time with you before you make your decision. The company should answer any questions you have, make you aware of the many options that exist, and help you determine exactly what you want in a fence so that you end up with the product that is best for you. They should also have a good working knowledge of the neighborhood or subdivision where you live, so that they are aware of all local codes. They should also be familiar with the soil density and rock content of the area to help anticipate any possible needs his crews will have when installing your fence in your yard.
- How do I know what fence is best for me?
Different fences have many different functions, and there are different styles to meet different needs. Some styles of fences provide greater levels of security than others. Other styles provide more privacy. Still other styles will look better with some types of houses than others. A good fence company will be able to offer any style of fence you might desire, can answer any questions you have about it, and can install it with trained and experienced crews.
- What do I need to know to look for in a quality fence?
A quality fence is made up of the finest materials, combined with an installation process that produces a straight, level, and sturdy fence. The higher quality of the materials and installation can give you at least 12 to 15 years of service and peace of mind! The better the materials and installation techniques used, the longer your fence will last.
- How can I tell if the fencing company is using the proper materials?
It can be hard to tell sometimes. Often when you ask for specifics, you will be given general information about types and grade of wood that you might not understand. A competent fencing company will want to share with you the specifics of the materials they are using and why they are the best available. For example, if you were considering a wood fence, you would want to know that your fence would be constructed of Premium Grade Cedar or Redwood. These types are the best wood materials to use because of their slower growth rates, which make them stronger with fewer knots.
- What do I need to know about the installation process?
The installation process can impact your satisfaction with your new fence long after the installation is finished. How deep are the fence posts sunk in the ground? If they are not at least 2 feet below the surface and cemented in, your fence is much more likely to wobble and go off line before it should. How do they ensure that every run is level and true? We use the time tested dual string line (or laser) that is set on a predetermined fence lot line after pre-dig for buried utilities have been marked, ensuring that the fence run is straight and level every time.
- What is the biggest problem I need to watch out for with a wood fence?
The gates on most wood fences sag and stick within 90 days of the installation. That is why many fence companies will only warranty their gates for 90 days. We warranty ours for a full year and use a patented “no sag” gate kit.
- How do I know what a fence should cost?
It will vary by type of fence you will order, but the cost of a fence will usually be dependent on a combination of installation time and materials. This can vary significantly from one fence company to another. An experienced fence company should be able to explain exactly what goes into fence pricing if you have questions. The least expensive fence is usually cheap for a reason. Inferior materials and a shoddy installation process may lower the cost of a fence, but will always result in an inferior product that will need to be replaced in five years or less.
- Should I haggle over price?
Not if you are working with a reputable fence company. A reputable fence company should always give you their best price first, while allowing you options to lower it with compromising quality. If they don’t, be EXTREMELY wary of any fence company that will offer you a lower price to match or beat a competitive bid. If they are willing to do this, it means they were more than willing to overcharge you up front.
- Will the final cost always match the estimate?
Typically, yes. A competent fence company will be able to provide you with a detailed estimate that will cover all anticipated costs, and some variables that may not be so easy to anticipate. For example, some subdivisions are known to have been developed on very rocky soil. If this is the case, a good fence company will put in his “estimate contingency” information that will project any possible problems the installation process may encounter with rocky soil, et cetera. Unless there are changes to the original fence plan like added gates, discovery of hard dig areas, or extreme slope, the final price should ALWAYS match the estimate. Do not go with a fencing company that will not make this guarantee!
- Does the structure of the company affect the cost of a fence?
It can. The ownership structure of any company can affect the cost of the product or service it sells based on the overhead associated with providing good paying jobs, employee benefits, and following all regulatory requirements. In addition, a well-structured company like Petersen Dean “Fences 4 America” has a vested interest in seeing that you are satisfied in the completed install as well service after the sale.
- How do I know the crew will be there when they say they will?
This is where references can be a big help. Your fence company should be able to provide references that can attest to the professionalism of the crew that will do the work and give you firsthand information regarding the details. If the installation requires more than one day, the crew should be there at the same pre-arranged time each day, no exceptions. If they cannot make it due to extreme weather or any other circumstances, you should be notified before the time they would normally get started, or at such time of delay.
- How long is a typical workday?
It varies by crew and company. The best crews like what they do, and get a sense of accomplishment by completing the jobs by working a little longer if necessary. The best companies encourage them to do just that, rather than leaving the yard until the following day for a couple hours to finish everything up.
- When the crew leaves, will the job be 100% complete?
All professional fence companies should have a procedure in place that the crew follows before leaving the job. This should include the job foreman and at least one crewmember walking the entire job site and inspecting the workmanship and the clean up. They should ensure that everything has been completed per the initial plan and intent. The final action should be a meeting with the homeowner to answer any questions, provide maintenance suggestions, and demonstrate any components like gates or removable panels. The final invoice should only be presented when the homeowner is totally satisfied with the result. We provide a Certificate of Completion “COC” with the final invoice numbers, that is signed by the installer, and customer after project is inspected and the customer is totally satisfied with the result.
- What if I don’t know exactly where to put the fence?
If you do not have clearly defined lot lines, a good fencing company will help you arrange to have a survey done for you to determine exactly where your lot ends and your neighbors’ begins. Depending on your region, there may be additional costs unless they are included in the contract. If you have questions about where the fence should be placed in the context of your home and yard, an experienced fence company will be able to give you guidance.
- I’ve seen the same types of products at large chain stores and small local contractors for a lot less. How can they sell it so cheap?
The products sold at the big box building supply stores in most cases are not the same quality you are getting from Petersen Dean “Fences 4 America.” In addition, Petersen Dean “Fences 4 America” uses American made and American grown products that adhere to FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) guidelines. We use Treated lumber that is produced to the AWPA standards for ground contact and approved by state and federal environmental guidelines. Additionally, as discussed in point #12 of this informational pamphlet, Petersen Dean “Fences 4 America” provides benefits, competitive pay, and has a reputation for excellent customer service across all its companies.
- Will my yard be a mess after the installation is complete?
When the job is complete, your yard should look the same as it did before the job started—except that you now have a nice, new fence around it! The only evidence that there was construction installation at all will be the dirt that was displaced when the postholes were dug. The dirt should be raked up neatly into piles along the perimeter of the property, unless there is a specific location that was designated for it at the start of the job.
- What else do I need to be aware of?
Don’t forget about your neighbors, even if one of the main reasons to have your fence installed is to keep them out! Installing a new fence is a disruption, and communicating with your neighbors in advance about what to expect is a basic courtesy. Look for a fence company like Petersen Dean “Fences 4 America” that understands this, and is willing to help you prepare them for what to expect. If your neighbors are informed up front of what to expect (when the installation will take place, and when it will be complete), they are much less likely to have a problem with it and sometimes will contribute to the cost.