Adding fencing or a gate to your property can go a long way in terms of property value and security. But, if it’s not a project you want to undertake yourself, you’ll need to find a qualified contractor who can do the job for you. Finding the best fence or gate contractor will take some time, but it will be worth it! Read on to find out what steps you should take to find the perfect contractor for your fencing or gate needs.
Do Your Research
The easiest way to research potential fence or gate contractors is by using the internet. As you already know, you’ll be able to find out a lot about the contractors in your area just by looking at their website and any online reviews they have. Many contractors put photo portfolios of their past projects on their site. This is an easy way to identify which contractors have experience with the type of project you’re interested in.
When looking for online reviews, keep in mind that they may be several review sites out there, each with different reviews. Sites like Yelp! and the Yellow Pages will show reviews as will Google and Facebook. If you find any negative reviews for a contractor you’re seriously considering, make a note of it and ask them about it to get all the details.
Friends, family members, and neighbors can also be a great source of information as you start on your research path.
Opt for Experience & Expertise
As you begin to identify potential contractors for your fencing or gate project, you’re likely to get better results with those who have more experience. Your contractor should be an expert who has been highly trained in fencing and gate installation.
Get More Than One Quote
Narrow your list of contractors down to three and get quotes from all of them. When you call or contact them, you’ll want a contractor who will work with your schedule. If they don’t have appointments available for two or more weeks, this might be a sign that they already have too many clients.
Contractors should provide you with a free, on-site estimate. If a contractor states that he/she will give you a quote over the phone, you should take that contractor off your shortlist. There’s a lot that goes into fencing and gate projects and an accurate estimate can only be obtained from seeing the project in person.
Get a written quote from each contractor. These estimates should be straightforward and easy to understand. They should clearly identify what the quote includes and what materials are to be used. You should also find out how long the quotes are good for. Prices for fencing and gate materials will fluctuate over time, so many times, quotes will have a “shelf life.”
Most likely, all your quotes will be in the same general ballpark. However, if one is dramatically lower than the others, that should give you pause. It may reflect the quality of materials or craftsmanship that the contractor intends to use. Don’t base your decision solely on price.
Take the Time to Talk
You want to feel confident in your contractor selection, so take the time to ask questions and learn all that you can about them and your fencing/gate project. Your contractor should listen to what you want in terms of style and materials and what you need in terms of budget. Then, they can offer options or alternatives. If you feel like the contractor is being pushy or not listening to your concerns, by all means, select someone else. During this time, you should also ask for references so you can hear firsthand about the contractor’s past performance.
Questions to Ask Your Contractor
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a good starting point to help get your conversation going.
- Do you have all the appropriate types of insurance? (Usually liability and worker’s comp.)
If something happens on the job site, you don’t want to be held liable for any damages or injuries.
- Are you fully licensed to perform this type of work in this area?
Licensing requirements will vary between locations. A quick internet search will point you in the right direction when in comes to finding what licenses are required in your state. Many states also have online databases where you can find out if your contractor has everything in place.
- Will you pull all the necessary permits for me?
A good contractor will know what permits are required for your project and most times, they will be responsible for taking care of all the permit paperwork. In addition, they should also know if there are any local regulations regarding fencing to which they must adhere.
- Will you contact the utility company prior to the start of the project?
Frequently, contractors will work with the utility company to locate any underground power/water/gas lines. But if not, it is something that will need to be addressed prior to the start of any construction.
- How long will the project take and how often do you complete projects on time?
It’s a good idea to nail down project time expectations from the get-go so you have a good expectation of when everything will be completed.
- What are the payment terms? Are financing options available?
Some contractors may require a deposit up front before starting their work. Knowing when they expect payment can help you plan accordingly.
- Do you haul away old materials?
If you’re replacing a fence or gate, this question is especially important! If the contractor does not remove old material, this may be an additional expense you’ll have to shoulder.
- Are there any property preparations I need to do on my end?
Many times, these preparations involve clearing personal items from the area in question. You want to make sure that your project can start on time as scheduled.
- Will the owner/foreman be present during the job?
If any issues arise during your fencing or gate installation, you need to be able to discuss those issues with someone in a supervisory position.
- What type of maintenance do I need to do to keep my gate/fence looking and performing its best?
Maintenance and upkeep requirements will be different for every project. Knowing what you need to do on your end will help to maximize the life of your fencing/gate.
- What kind of customer service do you provide during and after the installation?
Should something break during or after installation, you need to know that you’ll be able to call your contractor and have those issues addressed appropriately.
- Are there any warranties or guarantees involved with this type of fencing/gate?
Many times, contractors will uphold any manufacturer warranties. In some cases, they might offer their own guarantees.
Ready to get started on your next gate or fencing project? Give us a call at (480) 842-5060 or contact us to schedule your free on-site estimate!