Know Your Manufacturer

Know Your Manufacturer

When receiving fence installation estimates, it is common to see vague job descriptions such as “100 feet of vinyl privacy fence.” Seems pretty straight-forward, but the lack of information provided can be dangerous to the consumer. It is extremely important for you as a customer to know the manufacturer's information on the material you are having installed. Not knowing can put you in a financial pinch down the road.

Without the manufacturer's information being provided, you can’t research the material on your own. It’s common for salespeople to upsell their products. This is a very common practice in the fence industry, as many consumers aren’t aware of the different grades and materials available on the market. Often, installers buy the cheapest material available, make big claims for it, and sell it at a large markup. Without the manufacturer's information, your only choice is to trust the installer's claims, although you will probably be purchasing fence panels from Home Depot at a higher price.

The false claims made by salespeople is a very sticky area. Right now, “Made in USA” products are very hot, as they are higher quality and support our economy. It’s common for claims to be made that your aluminum fence is American aluminum, but chances are, it came from China. Without manufacturer information, there is no way to know what you are paying for. Even when information is provided, it’s a good idea to verify that the materials are American made before paying for American products. Again, it’s common for installers to purchase cheaper Chinese made products and sell them at a large markup.

Not receiving the manufacturer's information also means that you are missing out on the manufacturer's warranty. Installers may provide a short craftsmanship warranty, but a manufacturer will often provide a 10-20 year warranty on their products. However, if the installer is using poor-quality cheap materials, they may not want to provide the manufacturer information because there is not one.

Regardless of the company or installer you choose, be sure to get your proposal in writing before committing to an install. Be sure that it is written as a contract, and that you maintain a copy. Check that the contract specifies the manufacturer of the material. That way, if you need to reach out to the manufacturer and find out that they in fact did not produce your fence, you will have legal leverage against the installer of your fence.

How to Choose the Right Fence Company

How to Choose the Right Fence Company

So you want to get a fence in the Central Florida area. One Google search pulls up hundreds of options, so how do you choose? It's hard to make a good decision when so many companies are just looking for a quick buck. Every year we are called out to multiple homes, where we are asked to repair or replace fences that had been recently installed by someone who doesn't care about the consumer. So many times we are told, "I wish I'd called you first!"

We can't install every fence in Orlando, but we can help the consumers make an educated choice when choosing a contractor and fence type. Read below for tips on choosing the right contractor for your job:

  1. Read Reviews- Use credible sources such as Google Business Listings, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), or Angie’s List. Trust the consumers, it is much more likely for good reviews to be faked than bad reviews. A company with one hundred 5-Star reviews and one 1-Star review isn’t bad. A company with 50/50 reviews is. Look elsewhere.

 

  1. Choose a real company- Sure a handyman or independent contractor will be cheaper upfront, but you get what you pay for. Bypassing a company will create issues- you likely won’t get a warranty on the fence, and it probably won’t be permitted. An un-permitted fence probably does not meet local building requirements and can result in code enforcement charges. Un-permitted fences also won’t be covered by insurance if any damage occurs.

 

  1. Schedule multiple estimates- It’s best to shop around. Some companies will try to scalp you, while others are dirt-cheap. During an estimate, do not pay any sort of deposit or down-payment for a fence. This is a common scam. Fence estimates should be free. If the company is charging for the quote, don’t have them come out. Ask questions during the estimate- do they have the answers?

 

  1. Do your own research- Don’t blindly listen to someone who is selling to you. Look for educational resources online and do your own research beforehand. Keep in mind your geographical location while researching. This plays an important part in fence installation – such as not using concrete on fences in Florida.

 

  1. Check for licenses- Once you’ve chosen your company, check if they are licensed. Go to Sunbiz, and search either the company name or contractor's name. If they are listed as “inactive”, they are not currently licensed. Additionally, ask for the company's or contractors' insurance information. If they are not insured and you allow them onto your property, that is a recipe for disaster. If possible, look for a company or contractor who is insured and bonded. The difference here is that the bond works as second insurance and protects the property owner.

 

  1. Get it in writing- Don’t agree to a project when you don’t know all the terms and conditions. Make sure you receive a written estimate that clearly lays out any warranty or material information. Be sure to ask the company what brand of fence material is used- this is important for manufacturer warranties. A fence install should come with both a craftsmanship and manufacturer warranty.

 

  1. Pend payments- Do not pay for a fence (or any project) that hasn’t been completed. Always wait until the project is complete, the inspection is passed, and you are satisfied before paying. The only exception to this is if your project requires custom materials that need to be special ordered. A standard fence project should not require pre-payment.

Once you've chosen your company, visit our Buyer's Guides for wood, vinyl, and aluminum fences.

If you have any concerns with planning your fence project, call Paramount Fencing. Our customer service and installation are superior and proven.  We are ranked number one on referral sites such as Angie's List, NextDoor, and the Better Business Bureau. Our number 1 goal is to educate the consumer regardless if they go with us or go with someone else.  That is what we do, and we will still be here for you regardless.

TO SCHEDULE A FREE ESTIMATE CALL!  (407) 341-2720 Family Owned & Operated Since 2003 Veteran Owned and Operated.

COVID-19 and its Impact on Business and Employees

COVID-19 and its Impact on Business and Employees

The Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has up-rooted many lives in 2020. First starting in Wuhan, China, there have now been confirmed cases in over 200 countries. As the world worked to stop the spread of the virus, we also slowed the global economy.

The manufacturing sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries in the world during the COVID crisis. COVID originated in China, the #1 manufacturing nation in the world, and one of the top producers of raw materials. The lockdowns at the beginning of 2020 brought the manufacturing industry to an almost standstill. More than 75% of businesses in the United States have “one or more direct or tier 1 supplier” from China.

COVID-19 SNAPSHOT

Dec 21, 2019 – Wuhan China reports a cluster of cases of pneumonia

Jan 13, 2020 – Thailand confirms the first case of COVID-19, the first reported case outside of China

Jan 21, 2020 – First case confirmed in the United States

Jan 31, 2020 – WHO issues Global Health Emergency

Fed 3, 2020 – The United States declares public health emergency

Mar 11, 2020 – WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic

Mar 19, 2020 – California issues state-wide stay at home order

Mar 24, 2020 – Stay at home orders issued in Florida for parts of Miami-Dade, Alachua, and Orange Counties

Apr 1, 2020 – Florida Governor DeSantis issues statewide stay at home order to begin later this week

Apr 13, 2020 – Osceola County begins mandatory face coverings

Apr 23, 2020 – More than one million Floridians have applied for unemployment benefits

May 4, 2020 – Florida slowly begins to re-open. Restaurants and retailers begin to open allowing limited capacity

June 5, 2020 – Universal Studios re-opens

June 11, 2020 – Seaworld re-opens

June 20, 2020 – Orange County begins mandatory face coverings

July 11, 2020 – Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom re-open

Aug 17, 2020 – Seminole County schools re-open for face-to-face learning

Aug 21, 2020 – Orange County schools re-open for face-to-face learning

Impact on the Construction Industry

With all the new workplace mandates and material shortages, it has been hard for the construction industry to maintain a steady supply of materials. Many material manufacturers are now working at 1/3 capacity to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet between employees. COVID has also required employers to stagger schedules of employees to allow for additional social distancing. This change in the workplace environment paired with the disturbances in the supply chain has continued to make manufacturing difficult.

The fencing industry specifically is having hardships as the top three building materials used in fencing are hard to come by. Tariffs, port closures, and shortages have had a heavy impact on the industry.

Lumber:

There is a severe shortage of pressure-treated lumber across the United States. This is causing issues for the construction and fencing industries. The shortage is largely due to the spike in DIY home improvement projects and working conditions in factories due to COVID-19.

Most pressure-treated wood comes from Brazil. Exports have slowed down due to shipping ports being closed. American lumber mills have also been closed or are working with reduced staff. The demand has been higher than the supply, and it’s estimated that it will be like this for a while.

Pressure-treated wood prices have skyrocketed between the months of June and July due to the lack of supply, and prices are expected to continue climbing.

 

Vinyl:

Vinyl product manufacturers are facing the same issue: working at reduced capacity. Our vinyl manufacturer is 32,000 panels backordered, putting vinyl shipments out 6-8 weeks from their ordered dates.

There have also been PVC shortages. PVC is a plastic polymer that can be used for many applications. Many manufacturers began using PVC to make PPE for frontline workers during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. PVC is being used to make face masks and face shields.

Prices on European PVC exports have risen by 8.5%, Indian PVC export prices have increased as well. Plant closures across the US have greatly slowed down vinyl production and distribution. The shortage of available vinyl products is causing prices to rise across the board, imported or domestic.

 

Aluminum:

The construction and automotive industries have been heavily hit by COVID-19. American made metal manufacturers are affected by the virus, as well as external factors, such as the Asian metal market. China is already the world leader for steel, and in 2017 it produced more than half of the world’s aluminum.

The construction and automotive industries are facing tariffs on imported materials, as well as long waiting periods to receive supplies.

Impact on Employees

At Paramount Fencing, we are keeping a “worker-first” mindset. Throughout the pandemic, employees from every sector are finding themselves overworked and stressed. COVID is affecting people emotionally, financially, and psychologically as well as physically. According to an article by the “Human Resource Executive”, 88% of surveyed employed individuals reported moderate to severe stress levels.

Across America, many employees are feeling stress over being exposed to the virus, their families’ needs, their children’s distance learning, financial hardships, uncertainty about employment, and learning curves with new work policies, workspaces, or schedules.

Prior to COVID-19, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. reported having a mental illness. There has been an increase in mental health issues due to social isolation and stress. Studies have shown that adults who already suffered from depression or other mental health issues have remained more resilient while social distancing while those who had no reported mental illnesses prior have now a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression, especially adults over the age of 60. 47% of those sheltering in place reported negative mental effects.

We spoke with Kip HudaKoz, the owner of Paramount Fencing, who says “No fence is more important than individuals being able to return safely to their families. We have COVID- but our workers are also over-worked and stressed. We are working hard. I have been in the field daily assisting with installs. The situation is tough- but so are we.”

Living in Harmony With Black Bears in Central Florida

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Black Bears and Fencing

Central Florida is no stranger to black bears, especially if you live in the Longwood, Wekiva Springs, or any Seminole County area. It is not uncommon for a homeowner to see a bear sitting in the backyard next to the pool or a few cubs resting high in a tree. Regardless of where we see those bears, it can create awkward hello when we let the dog out into that backyard.

For those of us living in these areas, it is important to know that black bears are protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Homeowners can live in harmony with black bears by following some guidelines from the FWC:

 

  1. Do not feed black bears. Bears that are fed by humans can become habituated and begin moving into residential areas. Bears in neighborhoods can become a public safety threat, resulting in relocation or even death of bears. The best thing to remember is “A fed bear is a dead bear”

 

  1. Eliminate food sources accessible to bears such as garbage cans, compost bins, ripe fruit or vegetables on plants, or pet and livestock foods. Bears will not stay in areas with no easily accessible food sources and will move elsewhere to find food. Protect beehives, gardens, and livestock with electric fencing. Homeowners can find wildlife-resistant garbage cans (like a bear-resistant container or caddy ) to help keep bears away from their homes. Put garbage out in the morning rather than the night before.

 

  1. If a bear is causing issues on your property, use a bear spray to repel or scare the bear away. Black bears are protected in the State of Florida, and it is illegal to shoot one without a FWC permit, unless you are protecting a human life.

 

  1. If you encounter a black bear on your property or in any residential area, it’s best to slowly back away and enter a safe location such as a house, business, or vehicle. Do not run, as this could trigger the nears natural instincts, and black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour.

 

  1. And remember, black bears are very non-confrontational and will most likely not attach. Most black bear attacks result from a bear protecting itself, its young, or its food.

 

So, before you install a new fence, or repair a fence, we at Custom Fence Orlando encourage you to remember two simple concepts:

  • First, most homeowners who live in bear territory simply do not think about bears when they are looking for a fence.
  • Second, most fence companies in Central Florida aren’t thinking about bears either.  They just focus on the exchange.

Ask that fence company how the proposed fence can assist in avoiding those awkward bear meetings. Understand, vinyl fences are flexible. They are not bear resistant. A bear can take one paw, apply pressure, and that vinyl picket will pop right out. To a bear, that cheap prefabricated wood fence is like a thin piece of balsa-wood in a human's hands. A fence is only a deterrent when it comes to bears. Some work better than others.

So, when it comes to bears and fences, remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Bears, more often than not, are attracted to something in the backyard. Follow the FWC guidelines to living with bears to protect your home, family, and fence from black bears, and to help protect bears as well.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

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A guide to choosing a reputable fence contractor in the Central Florida market

Let's be honest.  Let's be real.  Most businesses in the Central Florida marketplace are flat-out disappointing.  We’re often forced to settle or accept substandard customer service, product, workmanship, and even scams.  Rarely are customers left satisfied.

As our owner always says, “Don’t trust all that you hear, but trust 100% of what you see”, which is especially true when it comes to the fencing industry. It’s impossible to drive through any given neighborhood and not find that 80% of the existing fences are falling, warping, wiggling, or discolored. Is this what fences are supposed to do? Should I need to replace my investment every 5 years? These issues bring up many questions, but there’s only one answer.

We noticed potential customers in the Central Florida Market place were starved for information. It did not matter if it was fencing or some other service. All the customer wanted was information. Information beyond what a company’s marketing materials could provide or what a likable sales person could present. What they wanted was a real conversation with a real person who understood their industry, service, and products. Simply put, they wanted the ability to make a well-informed decision.

That is often difficult to come across in todays market, so we have made it our company’s goal to educate the consumer so that they do not make costly mistakes. This article will cover red flags in the industry that may lead to subpar products or loss of money entirely. Follow these crucial steps when choosing a contractor to help yourself make the best-informed decision possible.

  1. The first step that many people skip is checking the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, or other trusted sites. It is quite common for companies to use fake reviews on Google or Facebook to help boost their ratings, and the 5-star reviews may drown the 1-stars, but don’t let that blind you. Read those 1-star reviews and take them into consideration. Some sites, such as the BBB, allow the company or contractor to reply to their reviews. Do they own up to their mistakes and try to make it right, or do they argue with the customer? A company who argues with their customer is a red flag.
  2. Look for reviews from customer’s neighbors. It is common to see reviews from neighbors about messes left on lawns, or landscaping that was destroyed. If a company does not respect a neighboring yard, they won’t respect yours.
  3. Look for reviews of bad communications with the company. You may see some that say, “the salesman was responsive and attentive until we signed, and now we can’t reach anyone!” That is a surefire red flag. It is common for fence companies to ask for large “material deposits” (50-60% of total bill), and then disappear, leaving the homeowner out thousands of dollars.
  4. Ask questions about the materials being used. Many companies will advertise high quality products and provide economy grade materials upon installation, leaving homeowners paying a huge markup for a fence that will need replacement in 3-5 years. A reputable company should be able to provide you with manufacturer and warranty information. Look online for reviews on the material quality before you sign a contract.
  5. Check that the company or contractor you want to work with are licensed. Go to Sunbiz, and search either the company name or contractors name. If they are listed as “inactive”, they are not currently licensed. Additionally, ask for the company or contractors insurance information. If they are not insured and you allow them onto your property, that is a recipe for disaster. If possible, look for a company or contractor who is insured and bonded. The difference here is that the bond works as a second insurance and protects the property owner.
  6. Sunbiz will show you how often a contractor has closed and re-opened as another company name every year or two. That is a sign of a scam company. It makes them more difficult to trace. Additionally, look for a contractor with a storefront or physical address.
  7. Lastly, watch out for bogus awards. “Best of Orlando Fences 2018” a company will boast online. It looks great, but is it real? If legitimate, the company should appear when searching the award name online. Chances are, “Frank’s Fencing” is not the number one rated fence company in your city.

When in doubt, call Paramount Fencing. Our customer service and installation are superior and proven.  We are ranked number one on referral sites such as Angie's List, NextDoor, and the Better Business Bureau. Our number 1 goal is to educate the consumer regardless if they go with us or go with someone else.  That is what we do, and we will still be here for you regardless.

TO SCHEDULE A FREE ESTIMATE CALL!  (407) 341-2720 Family Owned & Operated Since 2003 Veteran Owned and Operated.