Wood fencing questions

I recently had a cedar fence installed. The contract was for a 5 foot high fence built using 1 x 6 cedar boards. The land has a gentle slope and the contractor told me I had a choice between stairstepping the sections OR easing each board down a little to accommodate for the slope. He suggested steps would look better. I agreed. What I have now is a fence which is less than 5 feet at some points as he has cut the bottoms of the boards to fit the contour of the land and then cut the top so it is level. Somehow I thought he would use longer boards so when cut to fit the land, they would still retain a five foot level top. He says I should have asked for a 6 foot fence in that case. Keep in mind that he *did* see the area prior to ordering his wood. I have told him I expect the 'finished product' to be 5 feet at all points. Am I wrong here?
Also, the 1 x 6 boards are only 1/2 inch thick. Isn't the common measurement 3/4 of an inch? I called the lumber company that he ordered the wood from and asked them what dimensions I could expect from their fence boards. They confirmed the 3/4 inch thickness. Any ideas on how to approach this?
Many thanks, Steve
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How much less than 5 ft did he make it. Was 3/4 specified, does 1/4 more make a difference.
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standard 1x is 3/4" thick
regarding the "what does '5 foot' mean" problem... I hate to point out the silliness of modern-day culture, where it's a necessity to hire a billion experts and lawyers just to receive the quality any rational person would assume.
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Sweat=@rocksinmyhead.com, No one can assume anything, can they ,or they are plain ol dumb. Is it 1/4 " below five feet ? 3/4 standard ? show me that in writing, pleease do. Thats why you write a contracts specifications out completely . 1/2" may be what this fencer uses normaly and feels is correct. If this guy " assumed" 3/4 , well tough.
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Steve,
You don't say how much you spent on this fence but I think you may have a small claims case. Are the deficiencies in the fence worth pursuing? First do your homework. Did you have a written contract? What exactly does it say? On the matter of the 1X6 boards I've never heard of 1 inch boards drying to only 1/2 inch. Is that a common or accepted practice where you live? Check the dimensions of 1X6 at several local lumber yards. Also, is there any chance that he planed these boards prior to use? As to the height of the fence you don't say whether 5 ft. was the minimum or maximum height. Clearly you believe that it is a minimum height but the contract should be clear on this. If not then the person who drew up the contract is liable for any confusion. If there was no written contract find out whether written contracts are required for such work. I think that you strongest complaint is that the contractor did not use 1X6 boards. If the fence seems adequate try to get some money back. If the fence seems flimsy have the fence replaced.
Good luck, Dave M.
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I called around to a bunch of lumber stores today, including the location where the contractor purchased the wood. One place did have 1x6 boards which were 3/4 thickness. All the others sold fence boards as 1x6s which actually measured 9/16 or 5/8. This was explained by several salesmen as being due to the 'fence board' name. If I asked for 1x6 *lumber* I could expect the extra quarter inch. Fence boards are made cheap, blah blah blah and are usually formed by spliting a larger board in two rather than forming them individually from a larger chunk of tree. Maybe I have no basis for a complaint.
The contract says 'a five foot fence.' The slope of the land is very slight. There seem to be a few methods he could have used to maintain a constant height. I will be speaking to him tomorrow about my findings and giving him an option of fixing the flaws and being paid the agreed price. Or leaving it as is and taking a pay cut. Thanks for all the advice. Next time I'm doin' it myself!
S.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Me) wrote in message

If you ever do it your self and order 2 x 4 lumber, you had better measure it carefully before delivery. TB
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The trouble with doing it yourself is, if you screw up you have no one to complain to! And, if you call in sick, you know damn well you;re lying!
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I wouldnt make much of a fuss about this point. It aint like your trying to keep elephants in is it?

What was the flaws? was the fence less than 5' ? if possible I alway try to have a flat angular fence, aesteticly it looks so much nicer than a steped fence. sometimes you may lose a few inches here and there to accomadate this look. does your fence look good? will it serve its purpose?
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Thanks for the comments. The contract says a 5 foot high fence. About 20% of the current structure is 6-9 inches lower. I've called around to a number of lumber stores and they have all said their 1 x 6 fence boards are 3/4 thick.
The estimate was in the mid-range of the quotes I got, a short step down from what Home Depot quoted for the job.
I realize that nothing about the contract should be assumed, but lawyers aside (that is not the direction I would like to take this) a five foot fence should be five feet.
I would welcome additional comments from folks who have had similar experiences or have professional knowledge of what constitutes a professional fencing job. I am more curious about standards than possible loopholes or negotiations.
S.
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If your contract says 5 ft and its 6-9 lower you hold all the cards. If you don't like it and cant live with it then you have options from not paying till its fixed , a price reduction or living with it. But these hills you talk about make it more difficult without seeing it. Seems like the guy may have just bad judgement and not bad intentions. Mistakes happen from misscommunication. Post a photo.
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I agree with Ransley here, a 6-9" difference in only about 20% of the fence is probably due to the impossibility of ensuring an exact 5' height based on the changing grade, and was probably done more to suit field conditions than to put one over on the homeowner.
However; the 1/2" thich boards are inexcusable. Dimensional standards dictate that a 1 x 6 fencing board is no less than 3/4" and that's where the contractor screwed you.
I would find out the cost difference between the boards used and the ones you wanted, and lop that off your final payment, I'm sure you can live with the missing few inches of height.
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I'm not a pro, but some fences on grades look good and natural, others look hideous. Given the grade situation and the method of handling it that you chose, there has to be some compromise in the height. Put the ruler away for a minute and look at the fence. Is the appearance good or does it look rather choppy at the grade? Would using a combination of cut down 6' boards make it look better or worse? If you were given the option of spending more $$ to use some 6 footers, would you have chosen that option?
As for the thickness of the boards, that is another matter. 1" rough cut usually finishes to about 3/4" You called the lumber yard that supplied the material. What did they sell to the fencing contractor? What was ordered? Of course the installer should have known if he was cheated but is there a change the supplier screwed up too? Is 1/2" available? I'd go after the price difference it there is an error in the material. Hard to dispute of all the others are 1/4" thicker that what you have. Go buy a board for "show and tell" and then talk to the installer. Ed
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