How to Choose a Fence Company in the Chicago Metro Area
While some homeowners skilled at general construction choose to build their own fences as a DIY project, most property owners don’t have those skills or the time required to do the job. In every suburban city in Chicagoland, there are multiple building contractors who install fences as their main specialty. Hiring a well-qualified, reliable local company for the job ensures a high-quality installation, done efficiently and to the standards required by your community. It’s the least complicated way to add a fence to your property. However, not all fence companies are the same. Finding the right installer is an important element in your planning process. Before signing a contract, you should get answers to the following questions and do some research on any contractor you’re considering for the job:
Is the Company Licensed or Registered in Your Community?
In Chicago and almost every suburban city, a fence company must be licensed or registered in that specific community. This restriction exists to protect homeowners from unlicensed, unqualified or disreputable contractors who are not known to the city’s building department. Most large builders maintain licenses or are registered in several communities, so you may be able to hire a Chicago contractor wherever you live in Cook County. Smaller, local companies may only have a license in one city. Ask to see proof of that licensing.
Does Your Contractor Have Liability and Worker Compensation Insurance?
Anytime someone works on your property, there is a chance that they might cause damage there or to neighboring property. Unless they carry liability insurance, you might be financially responsible for that damage. Similarly, if a worker is injured while working on your property, worker’s compensation insurance protects you from liability. Legitimate construction companies carry both types of insurance and will be happy to show you the proof.
Will Your Builder Handle All Permit Application and Inspection Issues?
Dealing with your city’s building or community development department can be complicated and takes time. The fence company you hire should obtain any necessary permits and schedule any required inspections for you. If they’re not willing to do that, you may have to make trips to City Hall and deal with unfamiliar forms and procedures. Most established builders handle these details as a matter of course. Be skeptical if yours does not.
What Will the Total Cost of the Project Be? Will There Be Additional Costs?
Your cost estimate should be based on the decisions you’ve made on materials and include all labor and other costs. The total on the contract you sign should be the total amount you will pay. If unexpected complications arise that increase that amount, the contractor should agree to discuss them with you and get your approval before continuing. If you make changes, costs may increase, but you should be informed of those increases and agree to them.
When Will Construction Start and When Will It Be Completed?
Any reputable builder should be able to tell you when the project can be scheduled and accurately estimate how long it will take. Naturally, bad weather or other problems can cause minor delays, but you should expect that the fence will be installed efficiently and that work will be done without unnecessary delays. Often, more than one crew will work on your fence. One crew may handle posthole digging and setting of posts, while a different crew may finish up the installation. You should expect a timeline for all work.
Ask Friends and Neighbors for Recommendations
If neighbors or other people you know have had an attractive fence installed, ask them what company built it and how satisfied they were with the experience. If they have high praise for a contractor they have hired, you may have found an ideal company to contact. If they have complaints or had problems with scheduling and work completion, they’ll be sure to tell you about those, too.
Check Your Contractor’s Reputation Before You Make Your Choice
Even before you call a fence company for a cost estimate, check with your local Better Business Bureau for the company’s rating. Visit the company’s website. Look for internet feedback about the company by searching online reviews. Do your own research in advance and contact only those that meet your standards.
Look at Examples of the Contractor’s Work
After contacting a builder, ask them for addresses in your community where they have installed fences. Drive by those locations and look at the work they have done. Fences they have installed should be straight, even in appearance and attractive, regardless of the materials used. High-quality work always looks professionally done, so you should see no obvious problems.
Get More Than One Estimate and Compare before Hiring a Fence Company
Any time you hire a builder to do work of any kind at your home, it’s always best to get at least two estimates for the same work. Take the steps listed above for any company you’re considering. Compare the total prices quoted for your project and factor in your opinion about the professionalism and service provided during your consultation. Typically, price quotes for the same project with the same materials should be quite similar between any two qualified contractors. If not, ask why they are different. Be wary of any company that is deceptive or tries to use high-pressure sales tactics. Use your best judgment, and hire the one you trust most.