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The cost of a wood privacy fence can vary greatly depending on several factors:
- The length and height of the fence
- Do it yourself or hire a contractor?
- Installing a new fence or replacing an existing fence?
- Material costs at your location
Obviously, the size of the area to be fenced is the single biggest factor that determines the cost to install a fence (all other factors being equal). Most wood fences are installed in 8 foot sections so measure the perimeter of the property using a reel tape measure or surveyor’s wheel and divide by 8. Pace off the distance to get a rough estimate or for existing fences count the existing fence posts and measure the length of 1 panel. The height of the fence will also have a major impact on the cost – most suburban privacy fences are six foot tall picket fences in one of the many styles. Eight foot and ten foot heights are also options for additional security, to obscure eyesores or for sound control purposes.
The second biggest factor on wood fence cost are the materials selected. Homeowners typically use pressure treated 4×4 posts or galvanized steel posts, pressure treated 2x4s for the fence rails, and pine or cedar wood for the pickets. Many options exist – usually at additional cost – to change the aesthetics of the fence appearance including upgrading the wood grade and application of stains or sealants to beautify and protect the wood for longer life.
When installing a new fence, don’t overlook the cost of site preparation and digging the fence post holes. Existing growth or trees in the fence line may need to be removed to make room for the fence. Rocky soil conditions may make it difficult to dig the fence post holes and sandy or marshy soil conditions may require additional groundwork to ensure the footings will hold the fence posts securely without leaning. Installation on a grade or other difficult terrain will also increase the cost. Replacing an existing fence presents other challenges, in most cases it is advantageous to re-use the existing fence post holes which means the current posts must be removed. The Wood Post Puller makes it easier to remove fence posts with any lifting method – even broken, rotten posts set in concrete footings or in difficult clay soil.
A general rule of thumb to estimate the cost of many home improvement projects is to calculate the materials cost and double it to determine the total project cost when using a contractor. For most fence projects this method will overestimate the project cost by 10-20% so it can be used as a conservative approximation. Installing a wood privacy fence is a significant project due to the amount of work, but not too difficult for the typical homeowner and the cost savings can be substantial. The American Fence Association estimates the average cost of privacy fence installation at approximately $17 to $24 per linear foot for a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor (2013 figures). This estimate doesn’t include sales tax or permit/inspection fees that may apply in your locality.
As always when hiring a contractor, combine related projects to get better value, get multiple bids on any job, check the BBB and licensing department for complaint history, and be sure to verify references and inspect prior work before making your final selection – the lowest cost quote for the wood privacy fence installation may not save money in the long run if the job is done with poor workmanship, low quality materials, or the contractor doesn’t stand behind their work.