Julie Bawden-Davis | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011
Besides providing privacy and a safe haven for pets and children, fencing adds a decorative element to the exterior of the home. Enjoying a well-designed and constructed new fence requires hiring a top-quality contractor who knows his way around the structural and legal details.
What to expect of fence contractors
In addition to possessing the technical skills necessary to design, build and install high-quality, long-lasting structures, fencing contractors help you determine the best type for your landscape needs. Such professionals handle all of the details for your new fence, from materials to permits to determining property lines and consulting with utility companies, regarding nearby electrical and gas lines.
4 favored fencing materials
- Wood is the most common material, because of its beauty and ability to provide privacy. As a natural product, it can be stained in the color of your choice and new installation methods that include metal help decrease the likelihood of warping. Wood requires occasional application of sealants.
- Vinyl made of PVC is maintenance-free and inexpensive. This material doesn't warp or rot and requires no painting.
- Wrought iron endures the test of time and allows you to make a decorative statement in the landscape. This fencing material on its own is generally not the best choice, when it comes to privacy.
- Aluminum and metal offer a more affordable alternative to wrought iron. They don't rust and require little maintenance.
Permits and contracts
Zoning ordinances exist in most communities, specifying restrictions on types and maximum heights. In most cases, permits are required. Before construction begins, a contractor will present your local building department with plans and obtain the necessary clearance and paperwork.
Expect a detailed contract that lists key information, such as materials and services to be provided. The document should also state if there is a warranty, and what it entails. Many contractors cover the workmanship and materials for a specified period of time, such as a year.
Budgeting and buying a new fence
Costs vary by materials used, structure type, height and length. Some contractors charge by the foot--for instance $15 to $45 per foot for standard wood fencing, while others bill by the hour, which may range from $31 to $47.
Ask for references from neighbors, inquire at local building supply merchants and professional organizations, such as the American Fence Association (AFA). Or, simply fill out the form on this page to get quotes from fence contractors in your area.