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Are you looking to save BIG MONEY building a new fence? We were able to knock 350ft. of fence in a weekend, saving thousands of dollars in labor and materials by doing it ourselves.
Here’s my top tips to save money building a fence!
Table of Contents
Start With a Plan
If there’s one major theme to any project or activity you decide to do, it’s that you must start with a plan. Your project will go 1000x smoother if you break it down and plan out each phase. You will also save yourself TIME AND MONEY!
Draw It Out
For our fence, we started by plotting out our current fence on paper, counting how many sections we had and writing down a rough estimate measurement of each side.
Pick A Design
We then discussed what we wanted our new fence to look like. We actually started by looking at fences on Pinterest.com (this has been a great resource for us planning many of our projects!)
We were able to see what fence we liked and my wife would pin those to her board. We could then compare them side-by-side to see which one we liked best. We decided instead of 1×4 boards we wanted 1×6 boards. And we wanted to have a 2×4 on the top of the boards for protection and style.
Once we had our pattern selected, it was time to put together a list of tool & materials.
Build a “Tools Needed” List
Having the right tools will make the difference between accomplishing your project on time or giving up in frustration and having your project drag on for months.
We got most of our list by watching a “how-to” build a fence video from Home Depot. They started by showing all of the suggested tools need to complete the job.
We copied this down and then started to ask people who had built fences if there was anything else we needed.
This was a HUGE help because it came straight from people with experience doing exactly what we were about to do. Not only did they help us complete our tools list, but they also had time-saving tips and tricks to help us complete our project with less hassles!
Here’s an example list of what you will need for your project. You can get most of these on Amazon, and have them show up on your doorstep this week!
- Tape measure (Stanley makes a quality tape measure)
- Carpenter Pencils
- Post Hole Digger
- Power Auger (Rent this tool from Home Depot)
- Chalk line and chalk (100ft., comes with chalk)
- String Line (for setting your fence line)
- Line Level (a MUST HAVE to keep your fence level)
- Work Gloves (flexible & durable)
- Hammers (Simple hammer, get a few of these)
- Power Drill (I like Milwaukee personally)
- Drill Bits (for holes and screws)
- Sledge Hammer (helps with DEMO [and setting stakes])
- Post Level (MUST HAVE for keeping posts straight)
- Standard 3ft. Level (to level the boards)
- Circular Saw (I use a high-quality Makita)
- Miter Saw (I use a Dewalt 12″ saw)
Hint: This list of tools is not only what you need for the fence project, but a GREAT starter list of tools for almost ANY household DIY project you have have in the future.
It’s an investment that will save you THOUSANDS during home-ownership, and will help you become a CONFIDENT D.I.Y. enthusiast for years to come!
Don’t CHEAP OUT on the tools. Especially the POWER tools. You want these to LAST, and make your life a whole lot EASIER, so make sure you get QUALITY brand power tools.
Build A List Of Materials
We took our new pattern and broke it down into 8ft. sections to start our materials list. We figured out how many boards and posts we needed and then multiplied that by how many 8ft. sections we were going to need. We then added in the gate hardware to finish off our materials list.
Here’s an example list you can order from Home Depot:
- Treated 4×4 Posts (8ft. tall)
- 1×6 Fence Boards (6ft. tall)
- Treated 2×4 (8ft. long)
- 2×4 metal hangers
- Gravel (for post drainage)
- Post Caps
- Deck Screws
- Box Nails (or nails for a Nail Gun)
- Bagged Conrete (to set posts)
- Wood Stain (to stain fence after)
Hint: Always over-order the amount of materials you will need for a project, especially building a fence. Make sure to check with your lumber supplier, but you should be able to return any extra pieces that you didn’t use or that were bad.
I suggest ordering 10-15% more than you need and returning what you do not use. This will ensure you have enough GOOD MATERIALS to finish and you can still get your money back for the extras.
Set a Budget For Your Project
Of course I had to bring it back to budgets! You need to do this BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING for your project.
If you start gather tools and materials only to find that you don’t have enough money to complete the project, you will either end up in debt or live in a construction zone indefinitely. AND NOBODY WANTS THAT!
We simply took the materials list above and searched for pricing at the big hardware stores (Lowes and Home Depot). This gave us a rough estimate of the fence budget.
We took that number and added about 15% to make sure we had a little wiggle room. We already had savings for this project, so we set aside the amount we needed and started to purchase the materials.
We ended up buying everything but the cedar boards from my dad’s old lumber company (family discounts!) and purchasing the cedar from Home Depot. We also rented the post-hole auger and nail guns from Home Depot as well.
I recommend shopping all lumber prices by Home Depot to make sure you’re not overpaying.
Plan Out Labor and Time
My suggestion for getting something like our fence project done in one weekend is as follows:
- Be born into a family with big dudes who can carry stuff
- Marry into a family that also has big dudes who can carry stuff
- Pizza and beer
We were fortunate enough to have family and friends who were ready to help and had some construction know-how.
Find Strong Friends!
They also happened to be big, strong dudes. This is great when hauling heavy wood posts and 60lb. bags of concrete all over the yard.
To ensure they were available, I sent out invites over Facebook about a month in advance of the project.
I then verbally confirmed several times with each of them to make sure they were still on board. We ended up having 6 people each day to help get this project done.
I suggest that you find some good friends/family that are willing to do anything for pizza and beer and that love you enough to just want to help.
Set A Realistic Timeline
You should also plan our your activities on a realistic timeline.
We had planned to have our old fence down and posts set the first day, then to nail up the boards on the second day.
Hint: I suggest watching a few “how-to” videos online to train yourself for your upcoming project. We went through about 5 of them and gleaned what we needed to feel confident in our skills to complete this project.
Also, make sure to TALK TO PEOPLE who have done this to gain from their experience. The most valuable information we received was ‘what not to do” and “what to watch out for” when building a fence.
We ended up having our old fence down in 50 minutes and then set posts the rest of the day. Setting posts took a lot longer than I anticipated, so I was glad we had almost all day to get it done.
We also got a late start the next day, but it was less labor-intensive so we were able to finish nailing up the boards by evening.
Hint: Make sure you plan time for contingencies in your original timeline. Nailing up the boards we much slower than expected due to uneven ground and not being able to find the right nails for a while.
Luckily I had the whole day open just for nailing boards. If I had planned the trim work and hanging gates as well, we would have not reached our goal and would have been stressed out the entire time. Make sure to leave room for adjustments to your schedule.
Build Your Fence!
You’re now ready to take our your next home project. I hope my experience has helped some of you see how planning a project properly can save your time, your wallet and your sanity!
Comments: Does anyone have any fun upcoming home projects? Anyone just finish a home project? Anyone still living in a construction zone due to poor planning? Let me know your experiences and how you saved money on YOUR project!