Fences make good neighbors, or so the saying goes. Whether you want a fence to contain the dog or you need a fence to make it easier to ignore the neighbors; building it yourself can allow you to save a small fortune. Fencing in a simple tenth of an acre can cost upwards of $5,000 for a basic wood fence if you bring in the professionals. Here is what you need to know about costs if you decide to install the fence yourself.

Determining Property Lines

Fences can make good neighbors but they can also destroy friendships if someone feels like you are encroaching on their land. When property is surveyed, the surveyor will usually leave a metal marker in the ground at the corners of the property. See if you can find those markers with a metal detector before constructing your fence.

Some cities allow homeowners to re-build a fence that is falling down. If you already have a fence in place and are just replacing it, you can use the same line to avoid having the land surveyed.

In the absence of markers or an existing fence, you will have to have a survey done. The property surveys received when taking out a mortgage are notoriously inaccurate and should not be relied on. If a survey is required, plan on paying at least $500.


Don’t even consider installing a fence without getting the necessary permits. Permits are required to ensure that the fence is built to code, can withstand the frosts that may come and will last for a few years to come. This is a highly visible project, so don’t take chances on being fined for not getting a permit. Plan on paying anywhere from $35 to $200 for this important item.


There are certain tools you must have to install a fence, but most of them are basic. There are also some tools you will want to rent to simplify the installation.

Post-hole digger – You can buy a manual one for less than $20, and you will get a serious workout digging all those holes. Remember, most cities want fence posts buried at least 3 feet deep to get below the frost line. A better option is to spend less than $100 renting an electric post-hole digger that will do the dirty work for you.

Circular saw and Drill – Fences can be nailed, but installing the fence with screws is faster and easier. If you do not have these basic tools, plan on spending about $250 to pick up some nice ones.

There are also some basic tools that should be part of every homeowner’s garage. Investing in the following items that are needed for your fence will not cost any more than $40. They will, however, prove to be extremely handy over the coming years. Here are the tools you should pick up for your fence.

Carpenter’s square
Tape measure


Fences range in height from 3 feet to 6 feet. They can be constructed from pre-built panels or you can buy individual pickets and do your own. Panels are fine for land that is reasonably level, but if you have a hill you may want to use the individual panels.

Vinyl fences never require painting, but they can be broken and damaged should someone or something strike them. Wood fences are sturdier than vinyl but will require regular maintenance. Metal picket fences are sturdy and long lasting, although they may also require some regular maintenance.

Expect to purchase about 32 panels that are each 8 feet wide to fence 250 linear feet of property. Wood has some of the least expensive options, with panels as low as $26 a piece. Metal panels are available for as little as $50 each while vinyl panels will run in excess of $80 each. Expect to pay a little over $800 for your wood fence panels, $1600 for metal and more than $2500 for vinyl.

The cost for building a wood fence using individual pickets will be slightly higher, but the finished look is consistent and highly attractive. You will also have more flexibility of fence design and can space the pickets further out if you desire. Homeowners should plan on spending closer to $1000 for individual pickets if you go that route.


Wood and vinyl fences both require standard 4×4 wood supports. You can expect so spend another $300 on the supports for your fence if you should choose wood or vinyl. The cost for vinyl can go up to $900 should you decide to add vinyl covers to the post. Metal posts will run about $1000 for the fence.


A fence can be a hassle if gates are not thought out. Most people put a single gate on one side, but for more flexibility you should have gates on either side of the house. You should plan on spending at least $100 on each gate for the hardware and other supplies.

You can build a basic, wooden privacy fence for as little as $1500. This is assuming that the only tool you need is a rented post-hole digger, that the property lines are established and permits in your area are on the low side. On the other end, a vinyl fence that requires a survey and new tools can run closer to $4700. The choice is yours. Just keep in mind that a fence that is well-built will provide many years of privacy while also increasing property value.

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