A fence is meant to border the home and help define spaces on the property. A fence can act as a barrier between you and your neighbor or create an outline designating patio or yard space. Some fencing renovations are DIY, such as painting or staining your existing fence. But building a fence on your property can be time-consuming and contain zoning regulations, so it may be in your best interest to hire a professional. No matter how large or small your fencing project is, a contract protects both you and the fencing contractor against misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and “he said, she said” accusations.

A contract can be defined as an agreement between two parties, in the form of a written and signed document. If a lawsuit ensues over poor workmanship, substandard materials, incomplete work, or injuries, the contract provides you the upper hand in court.

Choosing a fencing contractor

Before you get as far as choosing what to put in a fencing contract, you need to select a local, recommended, and qualified fencing contractor. Ask friends, neighbors, or trusted others who have recently remodeled their own fence. Consult local building supply companies. They often will give referrals. If you are unfamiliar with interviewing a fencing contractor, consider asking whether they have a portfolio of completed fencing jobs, guarantee quality of work, along with information on the company or business integrity. A positive answer to questions such as those will identify who you want to work with. You can search for fencing contractors in your area by searching on Porch

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What should the contract contain?

You can create your own contract and can find examples of contracts online. When it comes to fencing construction your contract may include various elements that a standard contract may not. Remember to include specifics from the amount of digging to be done on your property, fencing building permits, and any soil type or wet spots that may cause issues such as rotting the wood of your fence. Another aspect of a fencing project is your property line. Contacting a surveyor to map out your property and have corners staked will help make sure you don’t run into any legal troubles with your city or neighbors. Be sure you have your underground utilities marked. Fencing companies may not be responsible for damage to underground utilities, so make sure you take the responsibility to call your local utility company.

An accurate contract is detailed and leaves nothing to interpretation. Your fencing contract should include:

  • Contractor’s full business name and contact information
  • Description of entire scope of project with start and completion dates
  • Note of details regarding location, perimeter, height of fence, etc.
  • Total payment to contractor, either lump sum upon completion or payment at each checkpoint
  • Material use with specific amount, brand, order number, supplier, and cost
  • Payment responsibility of owner, or contractor to be later reimbursed
  • Extra cost additions from hiring more workers to unwarranted delays
  • Consequences for missed checkpoint dates
  • Consequences for incomplete project and improper cleanup post completion
  • Proof of necessary permits and that contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured

Can changes be made to a contract?

After both parties have gone over the contract elements and signed the document, this does not mean that you can’t make any changes. Some changes may be made with regards to materials, scope of work or timeframe.  If you feel any changes must be made, you can submit a “Change Order” form. This form must be signed by the contractor to agree on the changes you have made.

Can a contract be cancelled?

Canceling your contract can be difficult; you’ll want to consult the fine print on your contract regarding cancellations. Some contracts may have a designated length of time for canceling your contract. This can range from hours to days after signing a contract with a company. Be sure to read the fine print of your contract. If you find your contractor is breaking your agreement in any way, whether it be theft, delays, or dangerous activity, consider consulting an attorney before voiding your fencing contract.

Top Image Credit: Brooks Kolb LLC