August 07 2015 0Comment

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Fence Contractor

Over the years, we’ve been asked a lot of questions but from time to time we feel as though some homeowners forget to ask some pretty important ones.  We put our heads together and came up with a list of questions we think you should ask before hiring a fence company in Minneapolis.

Do you use sub-contractors?

The use of sub-contractors is a pretty common practice.  It’s important for you to know who will be at your home installing your fence.

The difference between a company that uses a sub-contractor and one that doesn’t can show up in the quality of the work done.  Sub-contractors are paid by the foot for fence installation so the focus becomes installing the work quickly.  The faster they can complete a job and move on to the next, the more money the sub-contractor makes.

What we have seen is that companies that use sub-contractors run the risk of having unreliable work.  A sub-contractor might not be a seasoned fence installer.  Even when a company has been in business for a long time, the quality of work is dependent upon those who install it.

For more information on sub-contractors, see our post “What to know about fencing sub-contractors”.

What kind of lumber do you use?

It may not have crossed your mind that the quality of lumber can affect the overall beauty and longevity of your wood fence, but, it definitely can. The highest grades of lumber are intended for applications where beauty and aesthetics matter.  The lowest grades are useful when your budget is a necessary driver.  Trying to compare proposals without knowing about the products can leave you with an undesirable end result.

Therefore, understanding the difference between “Clear Board” and “#1 Board” can make a big difference in the overall aesthetics you are looking to achieve.

How quickly can you start?

This is a necessary question to make sure you know the timelines of the company bidding out the project. Often we see sub-contractors bid out jobs they hope they can get to and the homeowner is left feeling uninformed or the end result is a quick installation with less focus on quality.

No one can control factors that cause delays like Minnesota weather, but, having a time estimate upfront will definitely help you plan along the way.

How long will it take to complete the project?

The last thing you want is a yard that is dug up for weeks on end.  Make sure to know the amount of time estimated to complete the project.

Who moves the dirt?

We are serious with this one!  To dig post holes for a new fence we will take out a lot of dirt. By not asking this question, you can end up with a pile of dirt you don’t want or don’t know what to do with. If you ask a company to move it after the fact, they can charge an extra fee to do so.

If we hire you, how does the process work from beginning to end?

Understanding the process from beginning to end will help you make sure the company you are hiring can provide the service you need and the timelines you expect.  Asking this question will allow insight into the scheduling and crew management of the business and reduce the likelihood of unexpected surprises.

Who will I work with throughout the project?

It’s important to understand who you’ll be working with on your project.  Typically you will meet or talk with the following people throughout a Dakota Unlimited project:

  1.  Experienced Sales Professional – They will help to identify what kind of fence design you need, create your proposal and determine necessary permits or city restrictions.
  2.  Scheduler – They will coordinate dates for site inspection and installation start
  3.  Foreman – This person is in charge of the installation crew.  You should see them on-site throughout the process to check for quality installation and timely work.
  4.  Owners – Dakota Unlimited’s owner, Tom Engelmeier, stops by on nearly every job to ensure that the project was completed and that we have happy customers in the end.

Do you have any referrals or where can I see more examples of your work?

Always ask!  A company should be proud to provide you with happy customers and examples of high-quality work.  You might want to even ask for referrals from customers who have hired them for multiple projects.

How and when do I pay?

Understanding how much a deposit has to be or what payments are required throughout a project will help you plan.  Some companies offer financing and it’s important to understand how this can help you complete, and pay for, a project.

What unexpected costs could arise?

This is always an important question to have answered.  A company with lots of experience would be able to tell you what the most likely unexpected costs you could face with the project, your land, and the experience they’ve had before.