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Old 05-23-2011, 03:49 PM   #1
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Wood Fence - Competitive Bids and DIYer


I need to get a fence installed. I have installed my own fence in the past but life is a little busier now so having the time to do it is more difficutl. I have had a few quotes on a 6 foot privacy fence. About 120 linear feet with two 4 foot gates. I have priced up the material to do it my self and compared it to the quotes I received. There is a rather larger difference so the DIYer in me wants to jump and build the darn fence myself. Any way my DIYer estimates are materials from (insert big box store name here) and the wood the fence company is using is nominal thickness (4x4 posts and 3/4" slats) my estimates are (3.5x3.5 and 7/16" slats). I'd like to compare the costs using the same material then I will know what I am being charged for labor.
I have been searching and I cannot seem to find anywhere to buy the same lumber that the fence company is using. Can someone point me in the right direction? Has anyone else gone through this ritual?
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:47 PM   #2
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Have you ever thought that the quality of the lumber can easily affect the labor cost? A good contractor cannot afford to buy lower quality materials because than can raise the labor price.

Dick

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Old 05-23-2011, 08:09 PM   #3
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Have you checked with any lumber mills in the area if they'll custom mill you the material? I know some in my area did that years ago, but I don't remember how it compared price wise to a big box store nor if you could get a 4x4 post as an actual 4x4 post instead of 3.5x3.5 (I would imagine so though).

Update when you find out though. I'm curious to know myself.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:59 AM   #4
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You have to go to a real lumber yard, not HD.

Remember their labor cost will also include overhead such as insurance, vehicle costs, business license fee's, etc. As well as a cost to obtain the materials, and disposal of waste. These are things that a DIY'er will not think to add to a cost, a contractor will out of experience of having to deal with all the different aspects of a job. Concrete, screws, nails, supplying a mixer, etc.

I doubt if you were to phone up a random lumber yard and get a price on material you would be able to accurately break down their bid, best to get a couple different quotes and check references to ensure quality work. A good quality professional job will be done in a timely manner and is well worth money spent.

Last edited by chrisBC; 05-24-2011 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:30 AM   #5
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I used labor as the generic term. I am comparing the cost of doing it myself vs. having it done for me. One of the things I can use for comparison is the fixed cost of raw materials. Then I compare my time vs the difference dollar amout and determine if I am getting a good value. I also look at the opportunity cost from the savings to see what else I can spend that money on.

I am having a hard time finding a "real lumber yard" that's one of the reasons I made this post. Google searching lumber yard is not helping me out. Is there a different term to use?
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:48 AM   #6
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Old 05-24-2011, 10:51 AM   #7
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I'm not sure how to narrow it down more than a "real lumber yard" because that is where you will find this. Last fall I did a replacement of a rough cedar fence around 5 condo units for a strata. You do not find this stuff at your big box store, you need to go to a lumber/builder's yard. The bigger it is the more chance it will have the dimensional lumber you are looking for. By the way what you are talking about is most likely rough cedar, that comes in 2x4, 2x6 actual dimensions. The posts I can find in 4x4, 6x6, actual dimensions in PT. This is all at a local building supply store. It is not cheap either. (the rough cedar that is)

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Old 05-24-2011, 12:25 PM   #8
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Just think of the time saved by not having to dig all those holes......

I was in the same boat. I do 99% of all my own work, the 1% I actually subbed out was my fence. 240 ln ft, 32 posts, done in 2 days. I would have paid 2x's what I actually did. Looks great and has a good warranty.

If you are okay with the price of the bids, let it rip.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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Depending where you are, you may find a major fence company (installer) that also sells to its competitors and to the public (tiered pricing). They do it to increase their material buying power and maintain a good inventory of good material.

Usually only found in larger markets.

Dick
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:00 AM   #10
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Might depend on where your located, but about 18 months ago I put up my fence. 650 feet of 6 foot privacy. I used 16 foot stringers to help strengthen it, 4 X 4 posts in concrete and 1 X 6 pickets. When all was done I spend about 4,500.00.
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:02 AM   #11
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Thanks for everyones reply. After taking some advice from the board I was able to locate a place that would have comparable materials and price out my cost of building the fence.

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