Most companies that install fencing are independent contractors. Since you may not have a lot of experience hiring contractors to work around your house, here are some important tips to follow when selecting one to help you get your money's worth.
Communication: Be precise, so that the contractor understands exactly what you want done. Effective communication enables contractors to quote on performing the same work with the same materials.
Competitive Bids: If possible, find two or three contractors to quote on your project. This allows you to choose the one that offers you the best value. This is not necessarily the contractor with the lowest price. A company's reputation, workmanship and warranty should always be considered along with the price. Be wary if one price is significantly lower than the others. Try to determine why the cost difference is so great. Remember, you generally get what you pay for.
Insurance: Most states require contractors to have worker's compensation, liability, and property damage insurance. Some contractors try to lower their costs by not carrying insurance. This may place you at a legal risk, so make sure your contractor has all of the necessary insurance.
References: Ask for references from your contractors, along with recent installation sites. Inspect them to get a sense of the contractor's workmanship. Quality may be the main reason one contractor's price is higher (or lower) than the rest.
Contract: Get the contract in writing! It should include a full description of the job, a payment schedule, and an estimated time of completion. If you want to purchase a specific fence, make sure it is explicitly stated in the contract. Do not sign any contract which states "...-type fence will be installed." Language such as this allows the contractor to substitute generic materials without your approval.
Payment Schedule: Most contractors require a deposit before starting a job, but payment schedules vary. Some contractors ask for 50% down and 50% upon completion, while others request 1/3 down, 1/3 during installation and the balance upon completion.
Project Changes: If your project should change in any form, it is important to note this in the contract. This allows for revised prices and timetables to be set. What seems to be a minor alteration may cause the contractor to incur significant unexpected costs and delays. Try to keep changes to a minimum for this reason.
We hope that these suggestions make choosing a contractor a little easier. Remember, if you have any other questions concerning a contractor, your can contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for additional information. There are plenty of good contractors around, so try to find one that suits your needs best.