With the world of information on the internet- including videos, tutorials and endless online forums- there’s been a rise in interest around “Do It Yourself” or DIY projects.
There are certain home projects that lend themselves to DIY quite nicely… but there are many reasons why fence construction is not one of them.
While a DIY fence may seem attractive and potentially cost-saving at first, there are important considerations to keep in mind before endeavoring to repair or replace your fence yourself.
The first and perhaps most important reason that DIY fencing is a bad idea is that fence construction can pose serious safety risks. Fence installation requires activities that, for those that are inexperienced in construction, can be dangerous. Fence panels are often a minimum of 6ft tall and have 6-8 ft. wide sections. That means you’ll need more than one person to assist with the installation- and even so- there’s a risk for personal injury. Installation requires knowledge in various trades and a variety of power tools. Between things like heavy lifting, the use of power tools, and more- there’s a lot of room for dangerous errors. Additionally, those without knowledge of fence building may not be familiar with how to obtain a dig permit. Dig permits in California are essential to avoid accidentally hitting a buried utility or water line and potentially causing personal injury and expensive property damage.
Licensed contractors are familiar with dig permits and often have systems in place for contacting underground service providers. You may feel like this is a process you can figure out on your own, but be aware that you could be fined thousands of dollars for not having your property marked and inspected before your fence installation. Many people also share at least part of a property line (and therefore a fence) with a neighbor. Understanding the logistics for shared property fences is important- and something that a licensed fence contractor can help with. Also bear in mind that each area, city, HOA, etc. will have its own codes when it comes to your fence. The regulations will often specify the acceptable height and materials for fencing in your area. If you start a project without the proper knowledge of local regulations- you may end up having to start all over again with your project- an unfortunate waste of time and money.
If you choose to build a fence yourself, it won’t be covered by a warranty. That means that you’re financially on the hook for any issues with your fence in the future. To make matters worse, since you’re an unlicensed contractor it’s unlikely that your insurance will help you if your fence is damaged from something like a storm. In contrast, by law licensed contractors in California must offer a warranty - and if you use a licensed contractor, you can often use your insurance to pay for damage to it down the line.
Fence construction can be complex, oftentimes requiring an arsenal of professional tools. If you have an existing fence, you’ll need to demolish it before new construction can start- and that’s not an easy feat. Power tools are needed to properly and completely demolish and remove an existing fence and tools like post hole diggers, nail guns, levels and more are needed for fence construction. This is all for a standard fence build; more specialized tools and labor techniques may be needed depending on factors on the property like slope, vegetation, the need for retaining walls or kickboards, soil type, etc. In all likelihood, the average person doesn’t own the necessary tools- let alone know how to properly use them.
Not only are the tools complicated to use and potentially dangerous, they are expensive if you don’t own them. If you're buying them for this singular purpose the expenses add up. Also given the volatility of lumber supply right now, it can be extremely difficult to find and source building materials. Most experienced contractors have been dealing with this volatility for over a year now, and have made the necessary adjustments and preparations in the supply chain.
Like any skill or project, mastering fence construction takes time. If it’s your first venture into fence building, it will take large amounts of time to adequately prepare yourself for the project (to read up on permits and regulations, buy the necessary tools, research how to build a fence and what type to build, etc.) and large amounts of time to execute the project itself. Many people really value the time saved by using licensed contractors who are already experts in this area and can complete the project sooner (often times in one or two days!) Another consideration is: while you may have extra time to devote to a DIY fence project- going without a fence for extended periods of time can be inconvenient. Waiting days or even weeks for your DIY project to be complete can have implications for pets or children you’re trying to keep within a yard, privacy concerns, and even your neighbors who may share the property line.
Chances are, if you’re reading up about fence projects you care about your home. A fence is an important part of your property- and often the first impression that others will have of it. Investing in a fence that is built by licensed contractors will help you have peace of mind in it’s quality and longevity. Many contractors will feature images of their past projects- so you can see for yourself the styles and overall appeal of different fences- which is preferable to going in blind trying to figure things all out on your own.
Ultimately, it’s your property- so you should decide whether you feel comfortable and confident enough for a DIY fence. However, we hope this article has helped you consider some of the factors you may not have before.
If you’re still “on the fence” about whether to hire a contractor or to DIY your new fence, reach out for a totally free online custom quote. Our team will gladly answer any questions you have.