We strongly recommend that you get three or more estimates before choosing a fence company. Why so many estimates, you might ask?
You want to make sure that you get multiple estimates because, after all, you're trying to get the highest quality fence at the most affordable price. You're going to see very quickly that each fence company is going to give you a different price. You might even be shocked to see the price gap between the lowest and most expensive estimates you receive. Also, you want to keep in mind that most fence companies are using similar materials and labor practices, yet they're all going to be charging different amounts for almost the same fences. Why is that?
Well, there are a variety of reasons fence companies charge differently. One of the main reasons is how busy the fence company is at the time of getting your estimate. Especially during the height of the season, during the spring and summer months, fence companies will raise their prices to match the level of demand they are seeing from potential customers in the market. Other reasons include factors that are exclusive to each company, like their overall cost of doing business, such as the cost of material, labor, payroll, etc. You will also notice some correlation between prices and online reputations of fence companies. Generally, but not always, the higher-rated fence companies will charge a premium for their services.
Not all fence companies are created equal. As we mentioned above, each company will have an individual online reputation on websites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp. You want to spend time reading online reviews because they give you insight into how the company operates, especially after the fence installation is complete. By and large, most fence companies get negative online reviews because when something goes awry during the fence installation process, and the customer needs help, the company provides poor customer service after the fact. You want to make sure you work with a fence company that is going to return your phone calls promptly when you need them most.
While, for the most part, all local fence companies are using almost identical materials and installation methods, each company will have its unique selling proposition. Sometimes referred to as a "USP" in marketing, a unique selling proposition is a particular reason why you should do business with a company. Some companies will boast of being the largest company that has installed the most fences over the years. Others will emphasize that they are family owned and operated, thus giving you a more personal customer service experience. A lot of times, these claims are unverifiable, so we recommend that you take them with a grain of salt.
The bottom line is, by getting multiple fence estimates, you are going to be in the best position to make a well-informed decision on your next project.
Are you thinking about installing a fence yourself? We should tell you at the outset; installing a fence is one of the most significant "do-it-yourself" (DIY) backyard projects that you will ever attempt to tackle as a homeowner. You're probably thinking, "I will do it myself, how hard can it be, right?" The idea here is that by doing it yourself, you're going to save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
But what people fail to realize is the significant amount of time that is required to install a fence properly. A project of this magnitude might take you weeks, even months, when most local fence companies can complete the project in 1-2 days, depending on the size of the yard. Not to mention, you are going to have to enlist the help of friends, family, maybe even neighbors to be able to complete this project in a reasonable amount of time.
While installing a fence is not rocket science by any means, there are still best practices and industry-standard methods that need to be used to make sure your fence will last the test of time. From ordering the right materials, setting posts in concrete, to putting the finishing touches on your new fence, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. When problems do arise during the fence installation process, this inevitably leads to more time and money invested in your project.
After installing thousands of fences in the greater Chicagoland area over the last few decades, we can tell you with certainty that most homeowners prefer to have professional fence companies install fences on their behalf, as opposed to doing the project themselves. While you might be able to save some money doing it yourself, it is not a project for the faint of heart. Most homeowners that install a fence vow never to install another fence again. We recommend that if you are in the market for a new fence, that its a better idea to hand the project off to a professional.
With a quick online search, you will see that there are dozens of local fence companies that you can hire to install your next fence. We would recommend, however, that you hire an "actual" fence company, as opposed to a landscaping contractor or local handyman. With so many different fence companies competing for your business, and with the arrival of online public reviews from companies like Google, Yelp, and Facebook, it may be harder than you think to choose the right fence company.
You want to make sure during this process that you are asking all the right questions so that you can make a well-informed decision on your next fence purchase. Below is a list of the eight most important questions that you should ask each fence company when they are giving you a formal fence estimate:
Depending on the city you live in, there are rules and regulations, one of which requires you to get a fence permit. It's important to note that most municipalities require that you obtain the permit before any work begins. In some cities, they also require that you complete a final inspection as well to make sure that your new fence meets the city's codes. You want to talk with each fence company and determine if this will is your responsibility or if the fence company will handle this process for you. And not only who will handle it but who will pay for it. Is the permit processing fee included in the final estimate for the fence, or will this be an additional out of pocket expense for you?
You need to make sure that before any digging starts in your backyard, that a utility locator company comes out and marks any underground cables so that the fence company does not hit any during the digging process. The utility locator company comes out and basically locates the underground wires and then spray paints on your grass the exact areas where the cables are running throughout your yard. As the fence installers are working, they can easily recognize where and when they are going to have to be working around these cables. Having the wires marked helps ensure a smooth fence installation process both for the fence company and the homeowner. The good news is, most reputable fence companies have insurance in place to protect against the cost of cutting expensive cables, so the homeowners are, in most cases, never liable for cable cuts.
You may be wondering what exactly is a utility easement. It is not uncommon for a homeowner to have an area of their property that has power/cable lines and boxes in their yard. While this may be on your property, the utility companies have the right to access these areas anytime they want for any reason. The easiest way to think about it is that it's almost as if they co-own that portion of the land with you, and they have rights over it as well. These shared rights are especially important when it comes to installing a fence in an area that has a utility easement. You want to make sure that your new fence isn't going to hinder or obstruct the access of a utility company. Most cities declare in their regulations that if the utility company has trouble accessing an easement, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to remove the fence. We highly recommend that if you are installing a fence in or around an easement, that you ask the fence company to install removable section(s) so that if there is ever an access issue, you won't have to come out of pocket to have the fence temporarily removed.
What both you and fence estimator should look for is any areas of the yard that have substantial changes in the surface level of the ground throughout your yard. The reason this is important is that it can affect the technique used during the fence installation process. Depending on the level of change in the grade, there are generally two ways to handle it. If the slope is severe, most fence companies will recommend each fence panel to be stepped down along the grade of the yard. The stepped down process creates triangular spaces under the bottom of the fence, which can be a crucial issue if you have small pets, but again, depending on the severity of the slope, it may be your only option. The second option, usually used in less extreme cases, would be to have the fence follow along with the grade of the ground throughout the run of the fence. Following the grade is the most common practice used in fence installations today.
This question piggybacks off the last point. You need to keep in mind, that although you purchased a 6-foot fence, the height will vary at different parts of the yard based on the grade differences we recently discussed above. In other words, the top line of the fence will most likely not be the same height throughout the yard if there are significant grade changes. When measuring the height of the fence, make sure to measure from the grade below the area in question.
These extras or add ons, as some fence companies call them, can add up to a significant amount. Gates and hardware, for the most part, are included inside the basic fence estimate. But things such as dirt removal and removal of an old fence are usually extras. You want to make sure to ask how much they are going to cost and make sure to get that included in the final estimate so that you have an accurate price of what the whole project is going to cost you.
Warranties are a sticky subject. You will usually find a lot of fine print that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You want to ask each fence company what kind of guarantees they are offering with their fence installation. Does their warranty cover just the material used, or does it cover their labor as well? In many cases, especially with vinyl and aluminum products, there are manufacturer warranties to cover defective material. When it comes to wood, it's a more complicated issue. Wood naturally cracks, splits, and fades over time. So knowing what is covered and what is not is even more critical. What you want to make sure is that if something goes wrong, within a reasonable amount of time, the fence company is going to stand behind you and send someone out to remedy the situation.
It depends on the time of year. In the spring and summer months, you are going to find that top-rated companies are booked out for weeks and in some cases, months. But this is not a bad sign. It's a good thing to know that so many other people are signing up to use the same company. If you are hoping to have a new fence in your backyard to enjoy during the summer months, we highly recommend that you start shopping for a new fence in early March to have it ready in time. Another thing you want to find out from the fence company is how long the actual fence installation itself is going to take once the crew arrives. Depending on the size of your backyard, most fence installations take approximately 1-2 days.
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