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The more information that is provided, the more you know about what exactly you are being provided with.

Oh sure most fence estimates start the same basic way. First, you, the customer, calls a fence company and arranges to have someone come out on site to discuss the fence you are looking to have installed. Once an estimator arrives, a layout is discussed and measured. This can be preceded or followed by the discussion of product and feasibility, installation nuances and challenges that may apply to your particular fence installation. As with anything there are varying degrees of preference, differentiation and methodology, some better than others, some worse.

For the time being the the different or preferred methodologies and whether it is better to have your estimate quoted using linear foot pricing versus pricing tailored for your job will be left for another conversation (by the way nothing beats tailored). So, for the purpose of this discussion we will skip to the point where you have your written proposal in hand.

For this insight, we will use two actual fence estimates that were kindly donated to us. We have blacked out or removed any identifying traits from these estimates, as well as customer and pricing information as they are not relavant to the discussion. We also want you to know that we are not making any commentary as to the ability of these companies to execute installation, their estimating practices and policies or their overall company philosphy.

So, here is estimate number one. It is for a pool fence. The format of the proposal is common to the industry. Company information on top, an area for customer and job information and then the area for scope of work. This is followed by legalese, proposal acceptance, terms of acceptance, more legalese and signatures. It is a fairly generic, standard fence industry proposal. 

It is the scope of work we really want to take a close look at as this is where you can see exactly what you are getting.

Here is the scope of work:  "Furnish and install 210' of black aluminum fence (style name here) by (manufacturer name here). Price includes one 5' walk gate, one 6' walk gate and concrete footings for all posts."

 

contract1

What We Know:

  • Total footage.
  • Manufacturer.
  • Style of chosen section.
  • Color and Height of fence.
  • That we have (1) - 5' gate and (1) - 6' gate
  • That the posts shall have concrete footings.

 

What We Do Not Know:

  • What grade of fence is this?...Residential?... Commercial?...Industrial?
  • What size posts are being used?
  • What is the wall thickness of the posts being used?
  • Are there different size and weight posts being used for gates?
  • What kind of gate hinges are being used?...self closing?..adjustable?
  • What kind of gate latches are being used?...lockable?...self latching?...child safety?
  • What is the layout for this job?...One straight line?...a Box?...a triangle?
  • The concrete footing....is it being properly mixed in with water prior to being placed in the post hole, or are they filling the hole with dry Quickrete and then adding water?

With this written proposal, there are more questions and unknown items than known items and answered questions. All of the items listed under "What We Do Not Know" ...you should know, and should be part of a well written proposal.

Here is a PDF of Our Proposal for the same job. You will notice that all material specifications have been placed on the proposal in an easy to read format, as well as any notes specific to this installations and additional options. We also provide a layout for your installation, and while not to scale it gives you, and us, a working knowledge on the placement of the fence. The last page contains the terms and conditions of service.

 


 

Now here is an estimate for a vinyl vence. Back in the day, many an estimate was done right there in the field, pricing presented to the customer on-site based on a linear foot price. The design and stucture of this particular proposal brings back memories of those days.  It attempts to be the all-purpose proposal addressing the most common of job needs with check boxes, some pertinent to the job and what you need to know, some not.

For the purpose of simplicity, we will assume the whole fence is one style of fence, New York Stye. OK...let's get to it.

 

Infinity_Fence_Contract_2

What We Know:

  • Total footage.
  • Style of chosen section.
  • Color and Height of fence.
  • That we have 2 - 4' wide gates.
  • The color of the gate hardware.
  • That the posts are 5" x 5"
  • The height of the rails.
  • The fact that the rails have an aluminum insert.
  • That the posts shall have concrete footings.
  • That there is fence removal (take down) and carting (remove)
  • That the excavated dirt shall be raked along the fence line.
  • That the fence will be level on top.

So, right off, we can see that this estimate is more thorough than the first one we took a look at, though we must say it is not well organized and difficult to read. Too, one can assume, but not be confidently sure what they mean by "Level on Top" as that could refer to a stepped installation or the fact the top stays level from start to finish of fence line.

 

What We Do Not Know:

  • What is the wall thickness of the posts? .130? .135? .150? .270?
  • Do we get post tops?
  • Do we have any kind of internal support for the gate posts?
  • How wide are the rails and what are their wall thicknesses and are there any support inserts?
  • Do we get pickets?...and are they tongue adn groove?...and how thick are there walls? .040? .050? .070?
  • How are the gate frames made?....Socket?...Welded?....Riveted?
  • And while the hardware is black, what kind of hardware are you getting?
  • And again....The concrete footing....is it being properly mixed in with water prior to being placed in the post hole, or are they filling the hole with dry Quickrete and then adding water?

As you can see, while this proposal looks to be more specific and complete, it too leaves one with more questions than it should.

Here is a PDF of Our Proposal for the same job. You will notice that once again, all material specifications have been placed on the proposal in an easy to read format, as well as any notes specific to this installations and additional options. We also provide a layout for your installation, and while not to scale it gives you, and us, a working knowledge on the placement of the fence. The last page contains the terms and conditions of service.

As you can see, a poorly written proposal can leave you with fence products and installation you may not have been expecting. A properly detailed and written proposal will guarantee you know what you are getting a price for, and know what is supposed to be installed. Never assume, for if it is not specified, it can be anything.

If you have any questions or would like more information on this Infinity Fence Insight, please feel free to contact us.