So, it’s time to install a fence in your home in Las Vegas. You’ve got to decide whether to hire a fence contractor for the gig or go the DIY route.
Well, since it’s mostly personal preference, at this point you may be leaning towards making this a DIY project. It’ll give your yard a nice personal touch and you can save some money at the same time.
Not a bad idea, but installing a fence is more than merely laying out fence lines, digging holes in the ground and setting posts.
There are a lot of decisions to make. And if we’re being truthful, there are few of the pitfalls to look out for.
Here at A1 Fence, you’d be surprised at the number of calls we get from home owners who start fast and get bogged down along the way.
Assuming you’re leaning towards the DIY approach, we put this article together to help you avoid some of those pitfalls.
Our goal isn’t to talk you out of your DIY project. Instead, we’ll try to help you avoid a few of the most common issues that tend to turn a fun fence project into a frustrating case of overwhelm! So, let’s jump straight in.
Fence Contractor Cost Savings for the DIYer
Now let’s state up front that if you’re challenged around hand tools, this may not be the DIY project to start with.
If on the other hand, you’re ready to try out for one of those HGTV home improvement shows you may find that this short guide is all you need.
Wherever you fall on the skills chart, one thing we know is that homeowners tend to underestimate how long a fence project will take to complete.
When you hire a Las Vegas fence contractor, you know what you’re paying for expertise, materials and the actual labor of doing the job.
Perhaps you’re going DIY so you can cut out some of those labor costs by doing it yourself. Just remember, going the DIY route, doesn’t mean you’re getting out of that labor cost. It just means you’re paying it with sweat equity instead of dollars and cents.
Common DIY Fence Installation Mistakes
At A1 Fence, we’ve been installing, removing and repairing fences across the Las Vegas Valley for more than 30 years. Like most fence contractors, there are a few perks that come with working with someone with that much time in the game.
Materials and Styles
One of the most under appreciated perks is our knowledge of fencing materials. We’re familiar with what materials and styles work where. Whether you’re in Summerlin, Moapa Valley or Boulder City, we’ve been there and are familiar with the nuances of installing in your area.
Without that experience, choosing the right materials can get a bit confusing. This will become very clear when you head to your local Big Box home improvement store for a build-it-yourself fencing project.
You may notice that their on-hand selection is usually pretty sparse. Often it’s limited to light duty materials that will last a couple of seasons or a handful of heavier materials in limited sizes.
You may need to exercise a little patience. While not ideal, be prepared to place a special order and wait. If you don’t, you may find yourself making a poor fencing decision based on what’s immediately available rather than what’s best for your project.
Paperwork can be annoying. It can even seem unnecessary when you’re planning on working on your own property. However, it’s better to do your due diligence than to find yourself getting penalized as a result of an HOA or local ordinance violation.
From pulling permits to locating underground utility lines the paperwork matters.
Mistakes in this area can range from simply having to take down the completed fence for code violations all the way to paying thousands of dollars in fines for damaging electrical lines while digging posts for your fence.
A key area where DIYers get into trouble is with fence post placement. These are the key structural elements and must be done correctly for structural integrity.
One of the most significant issues involves the hole that the post is to be placed in. A lot of homeowners make the mistake of skimping on this key element. Either they’ll dig the post holes too shallow or too narrow.
Depending on your soil makeup and the tools you’re using, digging proper post holes can pose a serious challenge. This obviously weakens the fence.
Dig post hole so diameter of the hole is 3 times the width of the post (i.e., the hole for a 4” wood post should be about 12 inches wide). The depth of the hole should be 1/3-1/2 the post height above ground (i.e., a 6-foot tall fence would require a hole depth of at least 2 feet).
Another key post placement error occurs when homeowners don’t confirm the boundary line between properties. Having to replace a fence because you built it on the property line or partially in your neighbor’s yard is not only frustrating but very avoidable. Always confirm your property line before digging the very first hole.
Other post challenges to watch out for include
- Proper spacing and leveling of posts
- Installing heavy swing gates and
- Adjusting for differences in elevation across your yard.
Hybrid DIY Approach
One step up from a full DIY project is something we like to call the Hybrid DIY. We’re mentioning it here because of the number of times we’ve been called in to fix or finish this type of fence project.
The Hybrid DIY approach is normally the result of a homeowner hiring a handyman rather than a board certified fence contractor.
What we’ve found is a lot of times when homeowners hire these handymen, they don’t realize the potential difficulties they are inviting to their project.
When cost is a factor, homeowners are very vulnerable to low bids. These normally come from handymen that are more concerned with getting done quickly so they can move onto the next project.
Selecting the right fence contractor can make or break your entire project. Your property doesn’t deserve shoddy workmanship.
Your search should always include a search to make sure the contractors on your short list are registered with the Nevada Board of Contractors for your protection.
The main reason we refer to this as a Hybrid DIY approach is because in this scenario, once again it involves one of the two Big Box stores. The handyman will be putting in the labor, but the homeowner still needs to purchase supplies or equipment to complete the job.
There are two problems with this approach: lack of expertise and cost.
Whether you or your handyman does the shopping, you may find yourself relying on the personnel at the Big Box stores to pick out the correct parts and accessories for your project.
The associates at the Big Box stores are generally a step above order takers. They aren’t very familiar with fence installation other than what they’ve seen on YouTube.
Another possible complication is the fact that they haven’t seen your location. They’ll have no idea about any special details needed to order correct materials.
The delays this can cause add to the total cost of the project. And of course, when you purchase supplies from Big Box stores, you’re paying full retail prices for the same products a fence contractor pays wholesale for. With a professional fencing contractor, you also avoid the need to buy or rent specialized tools and gadgetry.
However, if you decide that this approach is best for you, do your due diligence and make sure to be very involved on the front end when ordering parts and accessories.
The pitfalls we’ve pointed out here should help you avoid many of the classic pitfalls, homeowners run into with their DIY projects.
However, if in the future you find that you need a fence contractor to help get your project completed, consider giving us a call.
At A1 Fence LV, we strive to design and build fences that meet the homeowner’s needs and stay well within budget. We’ve been doing it for over 30 years and we’re pretty good at it. Good luck!