Building your own fence

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Coolstavi
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Building your own fence

Post by Coolstavi » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:04 pm

Hello,

Has anyone had experience building a fence for their yard? Did you think it was worth it to do yourself or did you wish you had a professional doing it?

I have myself, my dad, brother-in-law and father-in-law to help. They are all very handy and have done many building projects themselves. I am not very hand but can do any lifting and grunt work necessary.

Our yard is about 100-120 ft though a company that came out measured it as 136 (don't think this is accurate....). So far our estimates have been 5100 and 7500 (!). This is why I am wondering about going it ourselves.

Any experiences to share?

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Tycoon
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Tycoon » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:08 pm

I built our fence, but I enjoy digging holes, pouring concrete, and building. I would never contract out a fence job.
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TxAg
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by TxAg » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:53 pm

It can be done. It's grunt work more than anything. I had ours done a couple years ago. 8' board on board prestained cedar with top cap and rot board. It was $37/ft if I remember correctly. My wife and I love it.

I didn't have the help you do so it would have taken me foreverrrrr plus I had them haul the old fence away.

Make sure you sink your posts 3' instead of 2' and go every 6' instead of 8'...it'll keep the fence straight and tidy looking.

Loik098
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Loik098 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:30 pm

1) How long are you planning on staying where you're at? As much as people move these days, it's an important question.
-If you're staying put for the long run, make sure you don't cheap out on the wood. Get some high quality stuff like cedar or white oak.
-If you're fairly sure you'll move in the next few years, you might consider saving a few bucks and letting a slowly-rotting fence become the next owner's problem.

2) Will this fence be on a property line? If so, make sure you do an assessment so what you think the lines are match reality. Many, many stories of neighbors causing problems after projects have been completed.

3) If you're going to stain it yourself (and if you pay to have it built, you can save a little money by doing so), my recommendation for the stain is ReadySeal. Do some research on it; I think you'll find the ease of application very much worth it.

jadedfalcons
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by jadedfalcons » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:38 pm

Depending on where you live, I have a neighbour who has a ton of experience building fences.

In the 10 or so years I've had my house, he's put up a fence at least six times. He's getting the hang of it, his last one went nearly two years before random sections started falling over.

barnaclebob
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:43 pm

Digging post holes is what would keep it from being a DIY job for me. If you could rent a tractor with an auger then that would make life a lot easier.

6bquick
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by 6bquick » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:54 pm

built my own fence last year. just me and my dad. roughly 200' total. cost ~$2500. Thats everything. the prefabbed 6x8 sections, the 28 10' 2x6's, renting the auger, hardware, concrete, etc. to have it done would have been roughly $5500. it took 80 man hours, five full days, 2 men, but we did it. my back yard slopes down; if it were flat, we'd have saved roughly 20 man hours. we had to trim the bottom of every 8' section to match the contour of that particular patch of yard. despite being a boglehead, if i had to do it again, i think i'd likely have it done. it cost me $2500 plus a week of vacation. i'd rather pay double that and have the week to do whatever. but it's in, its permanent, and my dog is in hog heaven. in the words of my father: education is expensive. as a previous poster mentioned, rent a tractor and auger if you're going to do it. the hand-held augers, even the cantilevered ones, are a b***h to manhandle.

GoldenFinch
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by GoldenFinch » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:15 pm

My husband rebuilds parts of our cedar fence every year as parts break down. Putting in new posts is the tough part because you need to be able to use a post hole digger. It really is hard work and I've tried to help but find that I am pretty useless. If it was just me, I would hire someone.

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Watty
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Watty » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:42 pm

Coolstavi wrote:Any experiences to share?


With the help you have it should be easy. Feed the crew well and don't break out the beer until late in the day.

If you are using eight foot fence sections that is only 16 posts for a 120 foot fence.

I have built a number of privacy fences and I always just used lumber and not the pre-made fence panels. To me this seems easier since you don't need to worry about getting everything to fit the panel size just right. I did not stain or paint the fences that I made since the weathered wood looks OK to me and that way I never need to put on a new coat of paint or stain.

Powered post hole diggers can be dangerous so be sure to take the time to learn to use them correctly. Don't underestimate this risk. Whenever I use power tools outside I make sure that I have my cell phone with me if I need to call for help and I try not to use them when I am alone.

If you are lucky and your soil is not too hard or rocky digging post holes with a manual post hole digger(not a shovel) is not all that bad. Ask around and try to borrow a couple because some will work a lot easier with your conditions.

How difficult it is to dig the post holes in your soil will be a big factor in how difficult the project is. You also have to consider if there are any trees in the way that will need to be worked around or taken out.

If the area is real accessible you may be able to hire someone to come in with a tractor with an auger attachment and drill the post holes.

A couple of things;

1) Find out where all your utility lines are. There is likely a local number that you can call to have someone come out and mark them for free.

2) Know your local zoning and HOA retirements and if any permits are needed.

3) Even if you are sure where your property lines are be sure to talk with your neighbors to make sure that they agree. Consider how the fence will affect your neighbors view from their house since you want to keep on good terms with your neighbors.

4) If the fence is to keep a dog in then be sure to research how to make it dog proof so that they can't dig under it get caught on the top of it if it tries to jump over it the fence.

5) If it will be obstructing access to a back yard make sure any gates way bigger than you expect to need or have easily removable sections of fence. You may have situations where you need get a pickup truck or tree removal equipment into the back yard.
Last edited by Watty on Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nicolas
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Nicolas » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:48 pm

I put up a chain link fence around our back yard in 1980. I bought the materials from JC Penney. I couldn't afford to hire anyone at that time so I never even considered that option. Today my situation is just the opposite.

hightower
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by hightower » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:36 pm

If its a small job do it yourself. Its a lot of physical labor so if you have a lot of ground to cover its worth it to pay someone else to do it. They will send a low wage worker out to do all the grunt work.

chemocean
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by chemocean » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:15 am

I replaced the posts on 20 panels and now have problems with four of my back disk. When you plant the posts make a special effort to keep dirt off the concrete and away from the posts. I added a retaining wall to the adjacent garden to isolate dirt from the posts. Wet dirt around the post is what rots them. Consider extra concrete above ground and perhaps concrete forms to the bottom cross piece to minimize rot.

2comma
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by 2comma » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:16 am

I redid about 120' of fence, by myself - new boards and mostly new 2x4's cross members but kept most of the existing posts. Nothing very difficult about it, like most construction, but it is hard work. I figure you can DIY for roughly 1/2 the cost of paying someone but it's still expensive. I've read that cedar probably lasts about twice as long as pressure treated but is around twice the cost. I went with pressure treated the last time, it's lasted about 20 years but it's time to do it again and I'll probably replace the old posts this time and go with cedar boards. Actually, I have another 50' that desperately needs to be replaced, including posts, so I'm going to try that first and then decide if I'm up for the rest. I actually get some sense of accomplishment from most jobs but I admit as my fortunes have grown and my body has aged it's not so much fun anymore.

I have an air compressor so I saved a lot of time using a nail gun to put it together; you want to use galvanized ring-shark or spiral nails. If you don't have rocks/roots I understand a two man gas powered post hole digger will save you a lot of work but you don't want to be hanging onto it if it hits an immovable object.
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runner9
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by runner9 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:04 am

A few years ago I helped a neighbor do 9 holes with a 2 person auger in clay. It was horrible, back hurt for days. I'd rent a bigger machine you don't have to actually hold if doing again.

Coolstavi
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Coolstavi » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:36 am

Thanks for all the replies.

We are going to go with vinyl instead of wood since I don't want to deal with staining and rotting. Since we are saving money and don't have a huge yard, I think it's worth it. We plan to live at this place for 10-15 years more at least.

Renting a machine to dig the holes is something we are very likely to do. Both of my brothers in law have experience digging fence post holes and building a fence so I am fairly confident we can do this job over a weekend.

I should also note we can only do a 4 foot fence due to HOA rules.

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DaleMaley
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by DaleMaley » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:59 am

back in 2011, my son and I built a couple hundred feet of cedar fence at his Bolingbrook house. He had to get a building permit, and follow the fence design rules.

What made his job so difficult was the gravel and big rocks, that started just 6 inches below the surface. He refused to follow my advice to pay somebody to dig the holes, so we rented the 2-man auger, which should be called "man beaters". They are supposed to have a clutch that kicks out when you hit a big rock, but the ones we rented kicked the bar into your thigh.........I think I have still have bruises from that episode!

Image

I like building stuff, so the fence building was fine.........in retrospect, we should have hired somebody to dig the holes, or rented a truck towed cantilevered digger.

My daughter's fence was a lot easier. It was only about 100 ft.long. We dug the post holes by hand because there were not to many, about 12.

Image

After I did my daughter's fence, I rented a truck towed cantilevered auger from my Local Ace Hardware. I love this thing for digging holes. You still have to man-handle it on rough terrain to get it in proper position.

I told my kids they get 1 fence per lifetime from me...........so hopefully I am done fence building for them :D
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lazydavid
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by lazydavid » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:10 am

I helped my dad and grandfather put up the fence at their old house in Naperville. It's still standing almost 30 years later. A couple of years ago, we replaced the rotted wooden fence at our house in Schaumburg with a vinyl one. My wife asked me if that was something I could do. Remembering the previous experience, I said "yes, but I'm not going to", and went to get the checkbook. :mrgreen:

It took a crew of 4 guys two days to get it done, which I take to mean 2-3 weeks to do it myself. No thank you. We also had one panel damaged early last year, perhaps by a rock thrown from a lawnmower. They came out and replaced the panel at no charge under their lifetime warranty. That would have been additional expense and another lost weekend if I had done it myself.

Smurf
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Smurf » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:17 am

As said earlier, with the help you have it's most definitely a do it yourself job and likely cost less than 50% of quoted prices. It will be tough work, but as with most things it will make you appreciate it more. Every time you go out back you'll look at the fence and have some sense if internal pride. I have put up several fences from split rail to aluminum. It's all grunt work except for making sure it's straight. Make sure every post is a perfect as possible along the fence line so there is no zig zag. I've used two methods for this including a string line run end to end as well as a rifle scope mounted on a tripod (pro tip: remove the scope from the rifle first or your neighbors get nervous). :)

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lthenderson
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by lthenderson » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:18 am

If I had to guess, I've probably built somewhere around 5 miles of fence. But most of that was the barbed wire kind which I'm guessing you aren't interested in.

Building a fence is one of the many things that isn't terribly difficult physical wise but there are many things you can do to screw things up and make it difficult as you go on. These days there are many videos online that point out the rights and wrongs of fence building and I would recommend watching those before you start.

On a side note, whenever I grab a pair of jobbers for digging post holes, I find it very therapeutic. If you let the jobbers do the work, it isn't terribly physical though if you dig all the post holes in one day, you'll be feeling it by the end in your arms and shoulders. But just digging out the dirt I'm free to let my mind roam and think and I kind of enjoy that. My first fence I ever did was a half mile long and I did every single hole by hand using a pair of jobbers. I think it took me a couple months in all.

Even if you rent a fence post digger, I would recommend you buy or rent a pair of jobbers to clean out the holes, straighten crooked holes, etc. There is no other substitute unless you have a skinny fellow you can lower by the ankles. Also, the secret to a fence post that lasts a long time it to tamp the dirt back in as you back fill the hole around the post. My dad said the sign of a well tamped hole is if all the dirt you dug out can fit back into the hole with the post in place. This helps keep moisture away from the post and also makes it rock solid.

likegarden
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by likegarden » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:23 am

Ah, how to build a fence! I had a fencing company put a cedar fence towards the front. Most of sides to neighbors and back towards the woods got chain link. I never had a problem with the chain link fence, but the cedar fence started to rot in spite me staining it every 2 years - what a pain. After 10 years I started filling in rotted holes of horizontal cedar fence with styrofoam out of a can, what a pain. After 20 years I got the cedar fence replaced with a good looking aluminum fence and never had a problem in the last 10 years. My fence is now no-maintenance probably forever.

My neighbor put in a pressure treated wood fence, never stained it, and never had a problem in 25 years. Stay away from cedar fences, except when you love permanent maintenance and replacement. I have a deck made out of pressure treated wood for 30 years, also never had a problem, except painting it every 3 years for appearance.
Good luck!

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mrc
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by mrc » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:36 am

I would and have done several fences DIY. It's not rocket science, but it can be hard work digging the post holes. And you'll need some tools.

If you DIY, be sure to call 811 prior to mark any underground utilities. And if you contract out, be sure the contractor does.
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lthenderson
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by lthenderson » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:39 am

likegarden wrote:Ah, how to build a fence! I had a fencing company put a cedar fence towards the front. Most of sides to neighbors and back towards the woods got chain link. I never had a problem with the chain link fence, but the cedar fence started to rot in spite me staining it every 2 years - what a pain. After 10 years I started filling in rotted holes of horizontal cedar fence with styrofoam out of a can, what a pain. After 20 years I got the cedar fence replaced with a good looking aluminum fence and never had a problem in the last 10 years. My fence is now no-maintenance probably forever.

My neighbor put in a pressure treated wood fence, never stained it, and never had a problem in 25 years. Stay away from cedar fences, except when you love permanent maintenance and replacement. I have a deck made out of pressure treated wood for 30 years, also never had a problem, except painting it every 3 years for appearance.
Good luck!


Not all cedar is rot resistant. What makes cedar rot resistant are resins called extractives found in the heartwood. Much of the cedar lumber sold in large box home improvement stores these days is sapwood which is low in extractives and thus prone to rotting much much faster. I have cedar fence posts (that include the whole limb, heartwood and sapwood) that are still intact and standing firmly after four decades. The sapwood on the outside it well rotted but the heartwood interior is still solid.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:45 am

My wife and I put up a fence in front of our first house in response to neighborhood teenagers cutting through our lawn with their go karts and dirt bikes. The fence was delivered from the company as posts with the section between posts fully built. I dug holes, put in posts and sections while my wife painted. Took one Saturday. 100 feet. No big deal at all. No more kids cutting through after that.
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rebellovw
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:58 am

I've built a bunch.

I recommend you dig the holes first - line them up with tight string - and use those paper cement tubes along with Simpsons Strong Ties - sink the steel ties into the concrete tubes - ensure the string is perfectly centered - then bolt up your posts and level them in all directions.

With the ties you can adjust and replace the wood several years later vs being stuck with a rotted post in a chunk of concrete.

jeep5ter
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by jeep5ter » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:19 am

Building a fence is pretty straightforward as a DIY project. I agree with the tips here, one important one not mentioned is that when setting wood posts, ensure that the concrete for the post completely fills the hole around the post and is slightly above finished grade level, and sloping away from the posts. This helps minimize water contact with the post, so the fence will last longer.

Jimmie
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Jimmie » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:44 am

I especially agree with:

1) Checking that the fence location is legal (and your neighbor agrees)
2) Getting the appropriate permits
3) Having the utilities properly checked and marked prior to digging

These are often overlooked while concentrating on the actual building of the fence.

onmyway33
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by onmyway33 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:48 am

I am just finishing a wooden fence project at my residence. To assist in digging 30 post holes, I rented a hydraulic auger post hole digger and used a spud bar to break up the clay and rocks that I encountered as I dug down about 36". Be sure to dig your holes deep enough (at least below the frost line if you are in an area with winter weather) and be prepared with a reciprocating saw if you are near trees and encounter thin roots. If building a fence using wooden posts, I would recommend putting ~ 6 inches of gravel at the bottom of the hole to allow for water drainage away from the bottom of the post. Also, I coated the wood that has ground contact with a wood preservative (such as Woodlife Coppercoat) to hopefully prevent wood rot. Lastly, be sure to look into any of your city's rules around setbacks and permits needed before you start digging. My city required a four corner property survey performed (~$600) to issue a permit (~$150), and I still set the fence back about 6 inches from the property line just to be sure I don't have any disputes with neighbors. Good luck and happy fence building!

ddurrett896
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:14 pm

Did ours - nothing hard, just grunt work!

Check out OZ fence post brackets. They allow you to use a chain link fence post with a wooden fence. We're never selling this house and only want to dig holes once!

corysold
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by corysold » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:29 pm

It is a DIY project as mentioned above.

If you are doing the 4 foot vinyl sections, be sure to have a good layout of the fence ahead of time if your yard has any slope to it. Decide if you want it to follow the slope or be even across. This depends on how much slop you have. But with the sections, you can't modify it a few boards at a time.

Our old neighbors did this type of fence and didn't plan it out very well. It looked pretty terrible as it was going up and down all down the side, had no flow to it at all.

Jimmie
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Jimmie » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:33 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:Did ours - nothing hard, just grunt work!

Check out OZ fence post brackets. They allow you to use a chain link fence post with a wooden fence. We're never selling this house and only want to dig holes once!

If you never move from that house, eventually you WILL need to dig holes a second time. :-(

ddurrett896
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:47 pm

Jimmie wrote:If you never move from that house, eventually you WILL need to dig holes a second time. :-(


The poles are galvanized so I rust or rot.

dadu007
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by dadu007 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:42 pm

I built about a 20 foot fence on the edge of our backyard at our old house. (It was shrubbery and on the other side was a 6' drop off...cut down the shrubs and put in a fence for safety.)
I built it with pressure treated lumber and didn't care if it was going discolor over time...No paint.
I know everybody and their brother typically anchor wood posts using concrete. However, in cold climates like where I live, heaving in the ground from the freeze/thaw cycle can cause those concrete jackets to move, throwing a line of fence in to a off-kilter mess. Also, the always present moisture in outdoor concrete will rot the post over time (gonna take a long time, I admit). The third consideration is that I wanted the next owner to be be able to "undo" my fence project. Digging out big hunks of concrete is no party; but pea gravel is easily removed. :-)
I did a lot of research online for different anchoring methods to avoid the heaving problem, and found a great enthusiasm for a method using pea gravel. So I dug my post holes by hand and put about 6'' of pea gravel in the bottom of the hole, then put the post in and (while braced) back-filled the rest of the hole with more pea gravel (the hole was probably 2' deep), continually tamping it down while adding it.. The pea gravel allows any moisture to drain away and you'd be surprised at how immovable the posts are with this method. And they won't move due to thawing/freezing.
Last edited by dadu007 on Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jimmie
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by Jimmie » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:44 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:
Jimmie wrote:If you never move from that house, eventually you WILL need to dig holes a second time. :-(


The poles are galvanized so I rust or rot.

My lame attempt at dark humor was lost on those eager to stick to the original post.

squirm
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by squirm » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:23 pm

Just make sure you do it when the ground is soft. Done many fences, not a big deal. Go to home depot and get some day laborers if you need to and rent an auger.

ddurrett896
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:04 pm

Jimmie wrote:
ddurrett896 wrote:
Jimmie wrote:If you never move from that house, eventually you WILL need to dig holes a second time. :-(


The poles are galvanized so I rust or rot.

My lame attempt at dark humor was lost on those eager to stick to the original post.


lol kinda thought that, but the YOU will dig threw me off. Too literal I guess - it's been a long week!

samtex
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Re: Building your own fence

Post by samtex » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:01 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Jimmie wrote:If you never move from that house, eventually you WILL need to dig holes a second time. :-(


The poles are galvanized so I rust or rot.



That's what I thought when I installed one to mount a tv dish on. It lasted about 9 years, then it broke off flush with the concrete.

Samtex

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