The first question most people ask when taking on a fence project is "what is my price per foot?" Unfortunately, this price can vary significantly from one installer to another. The first thing you must always check is if your contractor is licensed. Unlicensed contracts will charge much less because they do not have to bear the risks if any damages occur while on the job (you do). You can read more about these risks here.
Once you get that out of the way, you will see other variations from one quote to another. When comparing quotes between contractors it's important to understand the elements that were included or excluded in the price per foot calculation. Here are some of the main factors that impact the price per foot that you should consider when looking at your quotes.
The material used plays a big role in determining the overall cost. Some common options for fence materials include chain link, wood, and hybrid wood + metal. Chain link fences are the most affordable, durable, and long-lasting with little maintenance.
Different types of wood will have varied prices. Common wood types for fencing include pine, cedar, and redwood. The material cost of Redwood is generally higher than pine or cedar, however with proper maintenance it is more durable than other woods. The availability of certain types of woods to suppliers will also play into their relative price.
Hybrid fences use wood posts and frames combined with thin metal to keep out wildlife. The price per foot will vary based on the type of wood and metal combination used.
Treating a fence makes it more durable and resistant to damage from weather or insects. Add-ons like special coatings on chain links or wood staining will also increase the price per foot.
The average labor rate for fence installation will vary from state to state and even city to city.
Factors on your property like sloped ground, vegetation and obstacles near the fence line can cause further complications during the installation. These factors may mean hand digging or cutting into existing concrete to set posts.
The more complications there are on your property, the more additional labor charges you will see reflected in your cost per foot.
When it comes to dimensions, anything that deviates from the standard will increase the price per foot because more material is required. More labor and custom dimensions often means the contractor will need to source non-standard parts.
Some fence styles require more material and labor than others. For example, the picture frame style (top) features additional wood boards around the perimeter, versus a nail up style (bottom).
For a picture frame style, the fence pickets are fitted inside the frame, which is a different technique requiring more labor than the more straightforward nail up style that simply has the pickets nailed to the frame from one side.
Your property could have any number of factors present that make building a fence more complex and therefore more costly.
The takeaway: make sure you know what to look for when comparing different price per foot quotes. Ask your contractor what exactly is included in the price per foot they quote you. Is your 'quote' a rough estimate based on the standard options and no add-ons or complications, or is it customized to your requirements.
If you're interested in pricing out your fence project without the guesswork, try the online fence calculator. This online tool lets you virtually browse different fence types to see what style fits your property and your budget. It also will create a free custom quote that is specific to your property and project specifications.
All of our quotes provide a detailed breakdown so you can get a sense of all the elements that make up that price per foot.
For each side of the fence, we note the length, material, style, height, dimensions, and a few more details that you can see above.