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pricing for installing pasture fence-wood

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by CHF, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. CHF

    CHF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Just wondering what the going rate for installing a board fence using locust posts and oak boards would be ? We are new to the message board and are a lawn maintenance company....have gotten some request to do some fencing and wondering if its worth getting involved with it. Thanks.

    NWALAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I have been installing fences for about 5 years now, we charge between 4 and 5 dollars a LF to install fence. That is for labor only, add the price of materials to that to determine the price per LF. Depending on how much fence you are planning on installing, be careful if you don't have a bobcat or tractor with a auger for digging. With post and rail fences you are better off using longer boards that span 2 posts and stager the joints to add strength to the fence. Also use screws to fasten to all post, you can tack with a nail gun but the boards tend to twist just using nails if the owner does not seal the fence in a reasonable amount of time. You could also offer to seal the fence, we do that for about $2 LF for privacy so I would do a post a rail for about $1 LF with a good sealer like Ready-Seal or Wolman. They are easy to apply with a airless sprayer or pump up sprayer. Good luck.
  3. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    From what you are describing, I take it you are talking about horse fence. Some things to consider. Locust is the Cadillac of fence posts, look to pay around $11-15 for 3"x8"x7' posts, maybe less for 1/2 rounds or slab sided poles. White oak is the board of choice, the standard size is 1"X6"X16' look to pay a good price for that as well ($ 2 to $4 per board foot, 8 bf/16' board). My suggestion to you would be to call one of the Amish fence contractors out of southern Pa, get a quote, and mark it up. They can get better prices on the materials, as they know all of their fellow Amish, some of whom have sawmills, and have experience in this rather specialized form of fence installation. Go to a large lumber supplier and watch the puzzled expression on their faces when you ask for locust poles. If you need the holes drilled, get in touch, I have the machine to get the holes drilled, and the experience to do it right. Oh, and welcome to the site Dave:waving:
  4. mconlee

    mconlee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Agree with these folks on a lot of this - you can't do long runs without machines (read, tractors, augers, etc.). I don't know a lot about prices, but I do know about pain...watch out for trees/roots where your client wants the fence - you'll have to straddle any tree that is close to the fence line in order to miss major roots and those you don't miss, you'll have to cut through with a sharpened iron digger (by hand - you'll shear a pin in the tractor digger before you even think about getting through a large root...). If you run into a rock shelf (or just large rocks), you will either have to hammer through them with an iron digger or get a generator and use a hammer drill - not cheap and very time consuming (and yes, I've done both). There are also different designs to plank fences - old timers may want a "face" board put vertically over the joints on each post for looks. Talk them out of it - it will retain moisture and rot out the ends of your planks. Same with top "cap" boards that used to be put in at the top of these fences on a 30 degree angle (they once had a purpose before treated posts to shed water from the open tops of the posts, much as old tin caps did). Today, just pretty up your posts with a nice 20 or 30 degree chain saw cut for looks and be done with it.

    The screws (treated decking type) and white oak planks I certainly agree with, but in this day and age, I really think you want to put in treated posts which are "faced" with a flat edge for nailing/screwing. I have set many locust posts and admire the lumber, but I have to tell the truth...they are inferior to treated posts. The US Dept of the Interior has had samples of wood buried for many decades in Louisiana which they dig up periodically to test. As far as I know, two winners always come out: osage orange (aka hedgeapple) and treated posts. These two types will outlast you and your customer, assuming you buy quality - any good farm supply store should be able to tell you where to buy the treated posts (go with 1" or 2" larger than the cheapest and tell your client to foot the bill if they want a quality job (if they don't, get another client...). Finding and obtaining osage orange will probably be too costly and complicated to be practical.

    And, while we're on it, talk to the client about plank fencing in general - they should understand that with the best job that can be done, this is still an organic media you're dealing with. A natural plank fence will move with time (put in a sack of dry concrete tamped in the hole on hills - a foot below the surface - to slow it down). I have honestly put a fence in to a tolerance of 1/8" on the face posts, knowing Mother Earth will not allow that to exist long over time. Likewise, white oak will twist less than her sisters, but some boards will definitely warp in a couple of years - explain to the client they must live with it or pay to replace it at a later time. (By the way, the best boards I have ever used in KY are poplar fencing planks which were pressure treated by a custom plant here...a decade of service with no warping or rot, but I do not think you can find this solution commonly available. Also, since this type of fencing typically comes from a sawmill, one trick I have found is to order 16 foot planks (since 8 foot centers is the standard), but to put them in on 7 foot centers. This allows you to cut off the ends of the 16 foot planks to 14 foot and takes off the split and sometimes rough ends for a much more polished look and a considerably stronger fence in general...but more posts. Costs a little more, but it's worth it for a quality job. Oh, by the way, anchor your corners with a larger round post (an "end" post - normally, 9 foot long and about 9-10" at the tops - it will set off your corners and make the fence look right - your line posts will normally be about 7 1/2 feet long...but I like eight foot). For your corners, you can butt the boards together on the inside for a polished look.

    Last, but not least, some advice from an old farmer around here (with a degree in physics and I assume the arts) - the most pleasing form to the human eye is a curve - never articulate your fencing, or allow sharp bends in the "line" - sweep the entire fence in gentle lines, if you want your client to be pleased (and yourself). Look at the land - that may require some minor grading to do it right. Frankly, put in properly, a good plank fence may well outlast the owner, but they've got to be willing to pay for the job and the materials...

    Best of luck ... but, if you've never done it, you're in for some long days to do the job right.

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