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Choosing the right fencer

Last updated 25th Apr 2017

When choosing the right fencing specialist, there are some key issues you need to think about. In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.

  • Arm yourself with some basic knowledge first
  • Choose a fencing specialist rather than a general handyman
  • Avoid tradesmen who are only experienced in erecting one type of fencing
  • Get a detailed quote from each tradesman you’re considering
  • Never hire a tradesman who demands the full cost of the job upfront
  • Ask about materials early on
  • Ask who will actually be doing the work

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.

Arm yourself with some basic knowledge first

Before you speak to any tradesmen, find out about the types of fencing typically used for domestic projects in the UK. This will help you understand what each specialist is telling you when he does arrive to quote on your project - and work out which approach is most appropriate for your situation.

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Choose a fencing specialist rather than a general handyman

Fencing jobs vary dramatically - from the erection of industrial security barriers to agricultural fencing for livestock and more delicate, traditional trellis work around private gardens.

Each type of project requires a different skills set, so it’s important you choose a tradesman who has plenty of recent experience of doing your sort of job. The more specific a tradesman’s experience, the more likely it is they will be able to quickly and efficiently deal with any snags that arise.

MyBuilder member James Tibbles - of J&M Fencing - has specialised in fencing for over ten years and has a fantastic customer feedback rating. He explains:

It’s a good idea to choose someone who specialises in their trade. If you go to a landscape company that does drives, fencing, everything else - they aren’t likely to be as skilled at your particular job.

People sometimes get handymen to do their fencing, because they think it will be cheaper. But someone who doesn’t have the right tools or experience can end up taking twice as long - and if they’re charging on a per-day basis, this means the homeowner ends up paying more overall.

James Tibbles of J&M Fencing

As well as reviews, ask to see photos of previous fencing work that a tradesman has done, and speak to one or two of their previous customers. As well as the quality of their workmanship, this will allow you to find out what they’re like to have around your property.

For example, did the person’s neighbours raise any boundary issues with them? How did they deal with that?

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Avoid tradesmen who are only experienced in erecting one type of fencing

Michael Dunning of MD Fencing has been in the trade for over 15 years, and has fantastic MyBuilder customer feedback. He explains that while it’s good to hire a fencing specialist, it’s best to avoid tradesmen who are only experienced in erecting a single type of fencing:

A decent fencer should be able to fit pretty much every style of fencing out there, so look through their photos to make sure they have recent experience of this.

A lot of customers tend to want the wooden panels with the concrete fence posts. However, these aren’t right for every situation, so a tradesman needs to have the skill to properly fit alternative types of fencing if need be.

Michael Dunning of MD Fencing

In the case of domestic fencing projects, key issues typically include the pros and cons of timber posts and concrete posts, how long different types of fencing will last, how each type of fencing should be maintained during its lifetime, and who (you or your neighbours) is responsible for maintaining which sections of fence.

A good tradesman should be happy to answer questions you have about any of these topics.

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Get a detailed quote from each tradesman you’re considering

If possible, try to get at least three tradesmen to look at your job, and ask each of them to give you a detailed quote, in writing, that breaks everything down. That way, you’ll be able to compare like with like, and see exactly where your money is going. Michael explains:

The cheapest quote isn’t always the right one to go for. If someone is offering to do the job at a really low price, I’d suggest you ask them, in detail, what their process is going to be. Then you can compare that description to what other tradesmen are offering to do.

Michael Dunning of MD Fencing

As well as covering materials and labour, the quote should also highlight any possible additional expenses - like parking charges or the disposal of waste.

Never hire a tradesman who demands the full cost of the job upfront

For large projects a fencing specialist might ask for a deposit at the beginning of a project, to contribute to the cost of materials.

However, full payment shouldn’t be made until the project is completely finished, and you’ve thoroughly inspected all the work. Never hire a tradesman who demands the full cost of the job upfront. James comments:

We don’t take any deposits off anyone. We just take payment on completion of a job. My view is, if it’s a proper business with accounts for materials and so on, you shouldn’t really be needing to take money from anyone upfront.

James Tibbles of J&M Fencing

Ask about materials early on

Make sure you ask each tradesman what their policy on materials is. James explains:

We prefer to supply all the materials ourselves. If the homeowner provides them, you tend to turn up to find the incorrect materials, or the wrong number of fence posts, or something like that. If we supply everything, we can take full responsibility if anything does go wrong.

James Tibbles of J&M Fencing

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He adds that tradesmen can often get better deals on supplies:

The quality of materials from a saw mill is often so much better than materials bought by DIYers. And we can get good deals from our suppliers, too, which saves customers money.

James Tibbles of J&M Fencing

Before you hire a tradesman, you should also check what they plan to do with old fencing materials that are removed or replaced.

Every fencing firm should be prepared to take the old fencing away with them. That should be as standard, not charged extra for. That should be clearly included as part of the written quote the tradesman gives at the beginning of the process.

Michael Dunning of MD Fencing

Ask who will actually be doing the work

When each tradesman comes to quote on your project, make sure you ask them who will actually be doing the work. You need to find out which aspects of the job will be carried out by the tradesman himself, and which elements will be undertaken by other members of his team, or sub-contractors.

Many good tradesmen subcontract out certain tasks - this is not necessarily a problem. But it’s important you find out the extent to which work will be outsourced - and crucially, who will take responsibility if there are any issues or problems.

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