Part Two – How to choose a company to install a fence around your yard

You’re ready to invest thousands of dollars in a new fence. Doesn’t it make sense to learn some of the common mistakes fence installers make? In Part 1 of this series, we discussed what to look for when selecting a fence company in Atlanta. In Part 2, we’ll examine a few shortcuts fencing contractors might take that you need to protect yourself from. Eddie Clark, CFP of Accent Fence, has generously helped us by sharing these tips.

It's important to choose a contractor you can trust when you're having a fence built.

Do they recommend that you FIRST get a survey before beginning?

“Folks will tell you ‘Just put the fence HERE.’ Then the neighbor will often get a survey done and the fence winds up in the wrong place. Only work with a professional installer that tells you to get a survey done. I will often tell people when giving them a free quote that I don’t see their property lines. They will tell me that they have been mowing their lawn for many years and they know where it is. I always ask…are you sure?”

We asked Eddie if he had a story to tell about property lines. “Yes! A friend swore to me that he knew where the lines were since he had been mowing his lawn for ten years. I asked him if he was sure, and he answered yes. Thankfully, before we began the job, he called me to tell me that he pulled out his plot and he was wrong!”

Don’t trust your sod line. You want to see the actual original plot pins in your yard. If you don’t see them, then pull out your copy of the plot to see where the line is before building a fence. If you don’t have a copy of the plot, then hire a land surveyor. Eddie told us that this will cost you between $300 – $500. This is cheap insurance for you. Don’t fret about the extra money either. Having to relocate a fence later will cost you many thousands of dollars, so you’re doing yourself a favor.

Do they tell you where to put the fence?

If a fence guy tells you to put the fence here…run. No professional fence installer will ever tell you where to install your fence. Instead, they should educate you on the importance of getting a survey first before beginning.

Do they mix the cement up in the hole or in a bucket?

This might not seem to make a difference to you. However, listen to what Eddie told us: “Many installers will use Quikcrete to set their fence posts. The thing is that the instructions on the bag tell us to NOT mix it in the hole. When someone tries to cut corners this way, a poor mix is the result. For example, the top of the cement will get hard. The sides of the hole will get hard, too. Unfortunately, though, the most important cement that’s next to the actual pole will be powdery and chalk-like.”

Shortcuts cause the cement molecules to not bond together properly. This means loose fence posts down the road. Make sure that your contractor is planning on mixing the cement outside of the hole.

How do they buy their wood?

Do they buy it at the cheapest place? Or do they buy it in bulk so that they can control the quality of the lumber used in your fence?

Make sure that you're happy with the wood being used for your fence.

Does the fencing company have workers’ compensation and liability insurance?

“Don’t simply take their word on it,” Eddie said. “A salesman can simply say yes to brush you off. So, are they willing to show you a current certificate of insurance? They should be tickled to death to show it off, especially if they pay as much as I do.”

What if they don’t have a copy to show you? “If they hem and haw, then run like the wind,” Eddie said. “If they lie about this, what else are they lying about?” Why is insurance so important? “Nobody plans on getting hurt on the job. You should want something to stand between you and a lawsuit besides a contractor that you really don’t know much about,” Eddie said.

If they don’t show you current proof of insurance with their name on it, cross them off your list of companies to get fence quotes from.

Do they use the wrong kind of nails?

 Just suppose you were having a wooden privacy fence installed around your home. Eddie told us that the type of nails they use can make a difference in how your fence looks and how long it lasts for. “Pressure treated lumber is very acidic,” Eddie explained. “That’s why the manufacturers suggest that you only use ring-shanked hot-dipped galvanized nails. These galvanized steel nails are dipped in zinc. This means they will last longer without rusting.

“Some guys will try to save money and only carry one kind of nail on their trucks,” Eddie continued. “For example, they may only carry aluminum nails for red cedar. However, you should never use these on pine. They’re not strong enough. In twelve months, the boards will expand, contract, and twist. They’ll cause the nails to loosen up. They also will cause it to rust later on. You’ll see black stains dripping down from the nail holes. This is known as weeping.”

Find out what kind of nails your contractor uses. Insist on ring-shanked hot-dipped galvanized nails for your privacy pine fence. If you don’t, your fence will look great for the first few months – but by the twelfth month, you’ll no longer be happy with it.”

Are the post holes deep enough?

The Quikcrete website says that the diameter of the hole should be three times the width of the post. So, for a 4-inch wide post, you’d need a 12-inch wide hole. The depth of the hole should be one-third to one-half of the height of the post above ground. So, for a 6-foot high fence, you’d need a hole that’s at least two feet, ideally three, deep.

Are the fence post holes deep enough?

How much cement should they use per post?

That will depend on the diameter of the post and the depth of the hole. Using our example above, a 6-foot privacy fence with a 4″ wooden post would take 3 bags of 50 lb Quikcrete. There’s even a spiffy little calculator here at the Quickcrete website.

Find the answer to this question ahead of time. Some fence contractors will only use one or two bags to try and save money. This will compromise the sturdiness of your fence posts years down the road.

We hope you found this two-part series on how to pick an Atlanta fence company helpful. Buying a new fence will cost you thousands of your hard-earned dollars. You deserve to have a reliable installer to work with. We want to thank Eddie for his time in giving us these helpful tips. If you have any questions feel free to contact him his website here. And please remember, Atlanta Insurance encourages you to only choose a fencing contractor that has the proper insurance so that you are protected.

Speaking of insurance, do you need home insurance? Renters insurance? Life insurance? Car insurance? We’d be happy to help you out with that! We can discuss your coverage options with you and get you a free quote.