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Old 04-08-2013, 12:11 PM
 
9,233 posts, read 19,415,281 times
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I need to get the fence around my back yard replaced, and now that I'm looking for contractors, I'm very annoyed that they don't have prices on their sites. They all say "call us for an estimate!" To me, that means they size you up, see where you live, judge your income by your home, neighborhood, and car, and make up a price.

I found a site that has a cost estimator, but I have no clue if it's valid or not.
Cost to Install Wood Privacy Fence - 2013 Cost Calculator (ZipCode based)

I want a wood privacy fence, probably 6 ft tall (to replace the rotting one I have). And I have about 140 linear feet. So that site says I'll pay about $2100-$2600 total including labor, or $51.01-$19.13 per foot. I had thought it would be at least $5000 (that's just what friends and family have said, but they could be talking out of their a$$es). Since I don't want to charge it and incur debt, or use my emergency fund, I've been saving up and have about $4600 so far. But for all I know, it might be closer to $15,000.

I've had a few people tell me the companies they used, and they've given them favorable reports. Of course I didn't ask what they paid (it would be rude, plus our yards are all different sizes), but they did say they gave them a "good" price. But the company's websites have no "pricing" section.


So why don't the fence companies have a calculator like the one I posted above on their sites????
I hate companies/industries that keep their prices secret.

It should be like this: You need ____linear feet of ____ kind of fence, your price will be _________. Period.
Why can't it be that simple???? I wouldn't care if it wasn't exact, but at least a ballpark price? Is that too hard to ask? I'm sure if a company did this, they would slam their competition. Lots of us work all day and can't take a bunch of days off to have guys come over and give estimates.

What do you think I would have to pay (just ballpark)? Am I closer to $2500, $5000, $15,000?

Also, since my back yard is very shady and damp, and my old wood fence is rotted, do they sell pressure-treated-lumber fences that are rot resistant? I really want wood; I can't abide plastic.

Thanks
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Location: BNA -> HSV
1,977 posts, read 3,568,369 times
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Sounds like you need to contact some companies. It should be relatively easy for them to work you up a quote since you have an idea of how many linear feet you need. You should also be able to discuss different options with them as well.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:30 PM
 
5,571 posts, read 6,126,068 times
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Sorry that I can't help with cost estimates, but the practice of "call us for an estimate" is wide spread and far beyond fencing contractors. It includes almost any work done around your house. What you say may be correct: they will give you a price based on their "feeling". However more likely, contractors want to defend themselves against possible surprises. They also want to prevent bidding wars where you collect estimates and play one against the other. With some plummers it goes even further- they will charge you only after the job is completed!
The problem is not with contractors but rather with the public that agrees to those practices. If every potential customer would insist on written estimates in advance, things would be different.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:46 PM
 
25,627 posts, read 31,149,563 times
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No it's not annoying, it's good business.

Specifically because of people like you. Don't take it personally.

Call for written estimates. Listing all materials and labor.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:49 PM
 
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Every property is different, and they want to talk about your needs, what kinds of fencing you need, how many gates, a sort of needs analysis. We're shopping for fencing, too, and I completely understand why this is something that requires an onsite estimate. After all, they will be digging on your property. They need to take certain aspects of the property into account, like if you have a sloping area, if there are wet spots, etc. You say you have a wet spot. Maybe that's why your fence is rotted. Why would you want wood again?

I would guess that there are contractors who will post prices upfront, but they might be the ones who pad the bill with extras later on. I sure wouldn't deal with them.

Like it was mentioned above, it's good business.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:54 PM
 
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When I put in a fence several years ago the contractor told me that they do size you up and that they always ask you what other companies you are using for estimates. That way they can ball park what the other estimates might be. Tell them that if the estimate is too high you will just do it yourself.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:55 PM
 
9,233 posts, read 19,415,281 times
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I know I'll eventually have to talk to actual human beings But I tend to avoid phone calls like that, which will surely annoy me. I go into those situations with the idea in my head "this person is going to stress me out" and "this person is going to try to screw me." (I know all about cognitive therapy, be assured, but that's just me. So--apart from family, friends, and colleagues--I prefer to avoid dealing with actual people unless absolutely necessary.)

My way of buying anything big is to research, look at prices online, maybe look at customer reviews, maybe look something up in Consumer Reports, compare, and hit a button and pay. Boom. Done. I love that there are so many ways to buy stuff these days without having to go to stores and talk to people!

It just ticks me off that consumers have allowed certain industries to keep their pricing a "secret" until you meet with them (and they get their hooks into you) for a "free estimate." It's not like when you go to buy a car, TV, even a house, you don't know at least the ballpark price ahead of time. You don't walk into a restaurant and have to go into a back room to get an estimate on your dinner. Sure with a car or house you might haggle, and it'll go up or down a little, but you at least have a number to start with.

This is also my current annoyance with buying long term care insurance, but that's a whole other story....
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:06 PM
 
9,233 posts, read 19,415,281 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Every property is different, and they want to talk about your needs, what kinds of fencing you need, how many gates, a sort of needs analysis. We're shopping for fencing, too, and I completely understand why this is something that requires an onsite estimate. After all, they will be digging on your property. They need to take certain aspects of the property into account, like if you have a sloping area, if there are wet spots, etc. You say you have a wet spot. Maybe that's why your fence is rotted. Why would you want wood again?
.
My property is totally flat, and it's replacing an existing fence, not building a new one. So there shouldn't be any digging. The posts are evidently some sort of treated wood, and they aren't rotted, so they are fine. But again, they could at least put approximate ballpark figures on their websites and add a caveat that some factors in your yard might mean a higher cost. I'd be totally fine with that. I just want to know if I'm looking at closer to 3 grand or closer to 15 grand. huge difference.

The whole yard is damp. Not actual wet spots (maybe some puddles if we get lots of rain at once) but it just doesn't dry once it gets wet, since it's so shady. My deck gets fuzzy and green every two years and I have to power wash it and re-seal it. My shed is covered in moss (looks pretty and hobbit-like, so I keep it that way).

I definitely want wood. I loathe those white plastic fences that so many people have today. I know some people love them, they're even more expensive, they have less upkeep, and they come in lovely colors now, blah, blah, blah, but I can't stand them. My house looks old-fashioned and needs a good old-fashioned wood fence. Apart from the rotting wood, I like my current fence. It's darkened over the years and has ivy growing all over parts of it. I know already that I'll be a little annoyed at "fresh" yellow wood being there when I get a new fence. But I know it'll darken and weather in a few years. I'll have to figure out how to re-train the ivy to grow all over my new fence
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:10 PM
 
25,627 posts, read 31,149,563 times
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Thank lawyers, government and insurance industry.

Now get on the phone or punch in your info on their Web sites for a quote.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:42 PM
 
5,571 posts, read 6,126,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Every property is different, and they want to talk about your needs, what kinds of fencing you need, how many gates, a sort of needs analysis. We're shopping for fencing, too, and I completely understand why this is something that requires an onsite estimate. After all, they will be digging on your property. They need to take certain aspects of the property into account, like if you have a sloping area, if there are wet spots, etc. You say you have a wet spot. Maybe that's why your fence is rotted. Why would you want wood again?

I would guess that there are contractors who will post prices upfront, but they might be the ones who pad the bill with extras later on. I sure wouldn't deal with them.

Like it was mentioned above, it's good business.
Yeah, but really, many are so expensive and if they post their prices, nobody would call. Simple like that.
Here in the US, labor is extremely expensive compared to other countries where materials are often the major expense. Even if the fence is on a slope, how does it change the cost? If there are wetlands, the contractor will not perform the job anyway, so what's the point? Above all, they want to have you in their database to spam you with "promotions". As I said, the public accepts it and so it goes.

Last edited by oberon_1; 04-08-2013 at 04:17 PM..
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