Identifying A Need

My wife and I have been considering having a fence built in our backyard ever since we moved into our house about three years ago.  Our side yard is on the main road of our neighborhood and we’re new parents so getting the fence made sense, but we were afraid it was going to be uber expensive! 

The example I’ll use for the rest of this post is an outdoor privacy fence, but the concepts are transferable to other projects! 

Do Your Homework

Before you start any outdoor project, it’s urgent you ensure you’re working within your property lines. Your county recorder can give you a plot plan in most instances. Once I identified the property lines, I met with each neighbor to confirm they interpreted the dimensions the same way as me.

You still have to live next to the people on the other side of the fence, so be nice to them throughout the process as best you can!

Fence Company Research

I researched fencing companies and asked for recommendations of companies in our area.  I used Facebook for a lot of this.  Local Facebook groups usually called chatter groups are awesome for finding service providers.  If you are a service provider and you’re not tearing up your local Facebook groups, you ought to be!

I ended up with 3 full-service quotes and based on what we wanted and what our neighborhood requires and the best priced proposal I received was $7850.

All three quotes just had lump sum, total costs on the bottom of the numbers.  I asked the companies afterward if they would separate the proposals into material costs and labor costs.  Two of the companies told me they don’t break down their costs that way when they estimate (they’re lying) and one company told me it was roughly half materials and half labor.

Well, those answers weren’t good enough for me, and I knew there had to be a better way!

Buy Materials Yourself!

I have some construction experience, so I generally knew all the materials needed to build a fence.  In case you do not have construction experience, there are tons of sources on the internet explaining what materials you’ll need. 

As an additional idea, the pro desks at the big box home improvement stores will help you put a quote together for materials

For our fence style, we needed concrete, 4×4 posts, 2×4 rails, 1×6 pickets, fasteners, hardware, and scrap wood to keep the posts upright while the concrete set, etc.

All three of the major home improvement stores in my area show their prices on their website, so it was easy to see I would save money buying some things at each store.  As a heads up, price matching gets complicated with building materials because all the companies have different suppliers and different costs. 

For example, I tried to get Lowes to price match pickets based on the Menards price so I would only have to pay one delivery fee and I was told no because they would lose money.  I ended up buying some materials from each of the big box stores in my area. 

Even with 2 deliveries, I was still able to schedule both deliveries for the same day.

Then Find Labor

On the labor, consider this your public service announcement that the gig economy is alive and well!  If you jump on Facebook Marketplace and type the word “fence” you’ll find several posts from folks looking to provide services with pictures of their work serving as preliminary references.  Pro tip: search the word “fence” in English, Spanish, maybe even French to increase your potential results.  This is a great time to mention that if you have a skill that others might need, posting your skill to Facebook Marketplace is a great way to moonlight or side hustle!

Negotiate! 

I brought out 3 crews to give me labor quotes and those ranged from $2,300 to $3,700.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate.  I ultimately chose that $3,700 contractor, he and I agreed on an install price of $2,500.  Now before anyone blasts me with hate mail, I ran the calc after they were done and the 2-man crew made about $40 an hour.  Everybody won here.

So with all the pricing combined, I was able to get my costs down to $5,634.08.  Included in that price is the savings from a 10% off coupon from Lowes.  Watch last week’s video and you’ll see how to score one of those! 

Additional Savings

If you know you’ll be making a large spend soon, consider looking at those credit card offers you see online and in your mailbox.  This concept is commonly referred to as credit card hacking.  I’ll do a whole video on this soon.  I used the material purchases to hit the minimum spend for the promotion and got a $500 cash back redemption the following month.

That credit card I used also gave 1.5% cash back naturally as an ongoing benefit for that card.  That saved an extra $47. 

The fence pickets I bought at Menards came with an 11% mail in rebate that I received back in about 3 weeks for $240.

I also had a secret savings of almost $25 and I’ll dedicate a future video to that soon!

Finally, a friend of mine bought my leftover concrete bags from me.  It was cheaper to buy an entire pallet of concrete bags rather than the precise number of bags I needed, so I sold them for $40 which is the discounted price I paid for them.

All the savings above totals about $850.

As with all credit card purchases, the benefits are only realized when you pay the card off completely every month.  Please do not forget that!

Grand Total

When I back the $850 in savings from the $5,634, I ultimately spent $4783 and change on a fence, saving over $2500 as compared to the cheapest fence company quotes

Until Next Time

I hope you were able to take something useful away from this post!  Be sure to comment below and subscribe to be notified about future topics I’ll cover soon.  And if you know someone who could benefit from seeing this post, it would mean the world to me if you would please share it with that person!

The YouTube video corresponding to this post can be found on my channel:

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