Help me build a fence.
June 11, 2008 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for a contractor to build a wood privacy fence in Portland, Oregon. Also would appreciate advice on hidden costs, things to avoid, contractors to avoid, etc.

We're hoping to remove a rotten fence and also greatly expand our fenced yard. Total length would be 297ft with two pedestrian gates. I've found a ton of fence builders in Portland but don't know anyone who has used any of them before. I'm concerned about getting a quote but having the project cost way more than the quote. I'd also like to avoid any shady contractors who might leave the job half finished, use poor materials, or in some other manner screw me over.
posted by J-Garr to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I'd go to - it's worked for me a few times, and I like the peace of mind I've gotten from being able to read consumer reviews of the individual contractors.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2008

After a year of horrors with a contractor all I can say (no I must SCREAM IT OUT at the top of my lungs) is this:

Firm-Fixed-Price contract.

In other words: contract price is the price bid, with no incentives or fees added. Cost responsibility is placed wholly on the contractor.

Don't leave home without it.
posted by zenpop at 4:06 PM on June 11, 2008

Ask any potential contractor to show you completed samples of his/her work, and ask to speak to the home-owner as well.
Check with the BBB as well.
posted by Dizzy at 4:09 PM on June 11, 2008

I had a much shorter fence built by Matt McCune (, along with some deck work, about five years ago, and it's proven to be excellent. Cool guy, architect, builds wacky things for Burning Man... I give him two thumbs up.
posted by mumkin at 4:56 PM on June 11, 2008

Ugh, sorry. I hate unlinked URLs. I meant to say Matt McCune.
posted by mumkin at 4:58 PM on June 11, 2008

The LongFence company (I believe they're nationwide) won't "leave the job half finished, use poor materials, or in some other manner screw [you] over", but they will employ high-pressure sales and charge you way more than the going rate.

If you're okay with firm "no"s, then have them come out and do a free estimate, cut that number by at least a third, and you'll have a starting number to work with other contractors.

Or if you have lots of money and just want peace of mind, I've heard good things about the work they do.
posted by GardenGal at 7:23 PM on June 11, 2008

I did this myself, first thing I ever tried to build outdoors, and it turned out damn nice, if I say so myself. The Lowe's contract desk made a package of materials for me based on the measurements of the yard and it was delivered. I rented a hole-driller and sunk the posts over one leisurely weekend, then did all the in-betweening the next. Since the lumber was all right-sized there was very little cutting needed (I had to work around a tree, but other than that it was pretty much "assembly" rather than real construction.

I have even seen eight foot fence "panels" -- sections of entire fence. I didn't use these, but I imagine that would make things even faster and simpler, and perfectly uniform.

Was great fun, out in the summertime and all. I wish all home/garden work was that pleasant.

But if you do go the pro route, I'd actually walk around the neighborhood and find fences that you like, then ask the homeowners who made them. I did that while "designing" mine, then I emulated what looked like best-practices to me (a garbage door, cement footings, etc.)
posted by rokusan at 9:21 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

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