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?
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
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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