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.

Vinyl Fences and BB Guns Do Not Mix

BB

Mr. Smith was sitting in his favorite chair when he heard a loud thunk on his daughter’s bedroom window.   He didn’t think anything of it at first but after the second thunk…  he went to his daughter's room.   There he found a small hole in the windowpane, and then looked down at the shiny-silver BB bullet resting next to his foot.  When he looked up and outside, he saw two little holes in his brand new white vinyl fence.

He ran outside.  He shouted at the kid's voices coming from beyond the fence-line.    "You darn kids. Your parents are going to pay for that".

#FenceSafetyAlert

 

With the COVID-19 crisis and school closures,  kids are hard at play in the backyards all across Florida.   Parents be forewarned it is not a wise idea to allow your kids to shoot their BB Guns or Air Soft rifles in your back yard, especially when there are white vinyl fences surrounding the perimeter.

Understand, a bee shot from a single pump BB Gun travel at 285 feet per second and airsoft rifle around an average of 350 feet per second.   Some of you are probably thinking. It is just a fence,  but let’s provide you a little perspective.   According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission about 4 deaths per year caused by BB guns or pellet rifles.   So it does not take a genius to realize, Vinyl Fences and BB Guns Do Not Mix.

Neither does your pocketbook.   Let say your kid shoot your neighbor’s vinyl fence and three pickets have to be replaced.  What does that mean to you? It simple.  Three pickets at $3, all attached to a minimum service call of $400.00.   So think twice parents…  Let’s keep it safe.

Florida Home and Garden News 96.5 FM

Check out Kip HudaKoz, The Owner of Paramount Fencing, as he explains what to do when Neighbors are not that neighborly.

Fence Permits Rules, City of Orlando

"I saw on Channel 9 News that the City of Orlando is not requiring fence permits anymore.  Is this True and Why?"  - Donna L.

Yes and No.

On Monday, April 8th, the Orlando City Council approved a resolution exempting certain types of fences from the permitting process. But there is a catch.  If your fence project meets all of the following criteria, a fence permit is not required: Remember, all the following conditions must be true:

  • Fence is located on a one or two-family residential property
  • Fence is six (6) feet or less in height (All heights shall be measured from the established normal building site grade)
  • Fence materials are one of the following: wood, plastic/vinyl, chain-link, aluminum, wrought-iron, plant material
  • The fence must comply with Orlando Code Chapter 58 Part 5B(5) Orlando Code Chapter 58 Part 5B(5)

Here Is When a Fence Permit is Still Required:

  • If the fence is located on a commercial property, including three-unit or more residential properties.
  • If the fence is more than six feet in height. (All heights shall be measured from the established normal building site grade.)
  • If the fence materials are one of the following: concrete, masonry, or block, including posts or any reinforcement (concrete/rebar).
  • If the fence is utilized as a required pool/spa barrier.
  • If the fence is located on or near any or all public easements as depicted on a property survey.
  • If the fence includes vehicular gates or powered (electric, solar, etc) gates.
  • If the fence is associated with a demolition permit or the demolition of a structure on the property.
  • If the fence is required as part of Chapter 33 Safeguards During Construction – Florida Building Code.

Why Is It Important to Pay Attention?

As one can see, there is still room for confusion.   What is important, regardless of if you need a permit or not, is that the fence installed on your property must still comply with Orlando Code Chapter 58 Part 5B(5).   Failure to adhere to the fencing regulation defined in Chapter 58 will result in code enforcement actions.  Bottom line, know the dos and don'ts.  Don't just trust that fence contractor/company, individual, or your basic understanding of the code.  Know it.  The City of Orlando can and will make you rip down or move that fence.

 

Know How Your Property Is Zoned.

 

Land Use guide

A common mistake made by the homeowner and fence company alike is not paying attention type of property, the positioning of the home, and the location of the lot itself within the City block.  Understand, how one answers those questions above will determine how high, where, and what type of fence can be installed.  Click the photo above and for a direct explanation from the City of Orlando Permitting and Service Division.

The Cities Of Orlando's Fence Guide.

Get Your Information From The Horses Mouth.

The City of Orlando has put forth maximum focus on helping homeowners get it right. Click on the photo and it will directly take you to the City of Orlando's Fence Guide.

Know The Code

Read Between The Lines.

Remember, the fence code is more of a zoning issue than a building issue.  There is nothing in the Florida Building Code that dictates how a fence is constructed or with what type of the material.   What is important is that you understand the City of Orlando's  Code Chapter 58 Part 5B(5).

A Special Thanks

Custom Fence Orlando and Paramount Fencing would like to personally thank the City of Orlando Permitting Service Division Manager and the Head of Economic Development Department for reaching out prior to presenting the resolution to the City Council. We would also like to thank them for allowing us the opportunity of feedback prior to presenting the resolution to the City Council of Orlando.  We would like to thank Mayor Dyer for allowing Paramount Fencing to speak at the meeting on behalf of the resolutions.

 

March’s Question of The Month Replacement Vinyl Rails

 

Question: Help Please!!!    One of the larger fence companies here in Central Florida Installed my vinyl fence.    Needless to say, a tree destroyed a few sections of my fence during Irma.  I called several fence companies for estimates and was told by one company that the manufacturer no longer sold fence in Florida.  One company said that is not true.  The other company even suggested I needed to start over because 1 ½ x 5 ½ rail was the industry standard.   The best I can tell my fence rails measure 1 3/4  thick x 5 ½ deep.   What is going on?    Kathy C.

Answer:   First and foremost, great question.  The 1 ¾” x 5 ½” is a distinct premium-grade Vinyl rail system produced by Homeland Vinyl Products who is a major extruder of PVC Fence, Deck, and Rail products which are widely distributed throughout North America.   As a result, their manufacture and distribution footprints are massive, especially here in Florida.

There is a reason for that.  Homeland Vinyl is an innovative and research-based company that understands the unique geographical challenges of the U.S. climate, region by region.  As result, Homeland Vinyl has branded itself as an industry leader.  They are responsible for vinyl breakthroughs and technologies such as the ACCU-Shield.  They are endorsed as a Tier 1 manufacture by the Vinyl Manufacture Association and highly sought after by fence companies and distributors alike.  Simply put: Were they go people grow.

So Why Are You Having Trouble Finding 1 ¾” x 5 ½”  Vinyl Rail?  

Bottom line, the company who install your fence and Homeland Vinyl Products parted ways after a multi-year relationship.  This particular fence company/retailer sold to both homeowners and small fence contractors across the State of Florida.  So chances are that vinyl fence you see while driving down the street is a Homeland Vinyl Fence.

This breakup, or what we in the industry call the shuffling of manufactures, has created a lot of incorrect information within our market.   Regardless, it is business and there is nothing wrong with manufactures partnering with fence companies to bring fences to the market.  These type of agreements do a great service in helping homeowners find cost-effective fencing solutions.  The good news is these breakups create lots of new opportunities.

We did reach out to Homeland Vinyl Products at the American Fence Association National Conference in Phoenix Arizona.  They have assured Custom Fence Orlando that Homeland Vinyl Products is absolutely committed to the Florida Market.  So much so, they have already begun the process of opening another extrusion facility right here in Orlando.    They are hopeful that extrusion plant should be up and operational by late this year.

We would like to thank Homeland Vinyl Products for sharing their distributor list and fence companies who carry and sell their products.  So if you are a homeowner looking for a replacement 1 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ vinyl rail, a homeowner needing a vinyl fence, or a fence contractor needing materials, several distributors and fence companies are still selling Homeland Vinyl Product right here in Florida.  See the list below:

Distributors:                        Person To Ask For:                     Location:                                               Phone:
Orlando Steel                        Steve Lyons                                 Summerfield and Ocala                         352.347.8775
Merchant Metals                    Danny Gall                                  Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami                    813.980.0938
Paramount Fencing               Kip Hudakoz                                Orlando Florida                                      407.341.2720

On a final note, several manufacture and extruders are starting to enter into the Florida marketplace.   Heads up and word to the wise.  Not, all vinyl is created equal, nor are manufacture who extrude vinyl.  Understand, the process of extruding vinyl is technical and requires years and years of industry knowledge.  As always, purchase responsibly.  Make sure that the manufacturer is VMA certified.   New extruders pop up every day.   Few will last.

We hope this helps and now you know more then your neighbor knows.

Contributing Author…

P.S. if you sale homeland and would like to be added to the list, contact Kip@paramountfencing.com

 

Avoiding Post Rot: Concrete or Not?

QUESTION: I’ve heard both sides of the story for using cement on fence posts. How do I know which is correct? Cement with an upward slope to hold the post or no cement due to the rotting of the post?

ANSWER: Last week, I had the honor of attending the American Fence Association’s (AFA) National Conference In Pheonix Arizona. Concrete or no Concrete was a hot topic. It did not matter if was a fence company from California, North Dakota, Taxes, or New York their answers revolved around three different factors: (1) Geographical Location, (2) Environmental Conditions, and (3) Leverage Ratios versus External Force.

Based on these three factors, the answer should be simple; but it is not. It is as complicated as the Shakes Spear Quote: “To be or not to be…” That answer is complex and possesses endless meanings just like the use of concrete. For example, let us examine the reference in the question, “Cement with an upward slope to hold the post.” On the surface, it seems like the companies response makes sense. One would think, It could prevent the post from being pushed up or down or left or right. The realistic side is the upward sloping (Doming) of the concrete is a common practice in cold weather climates that experience sustained hard freezes. It is this practice of upward sloping or doming of concrete that prevents the permafrost from pushing the post upwards, ultimately disturbing the registry of the fence.

Permafrost does not exist in Florida. The upward sloping of concrete on a post is nothing more than a marketing ploy or way to get a customer to spend more. We have seen this time and time again, and believe me, Florida Fence companies can get creative. My personal favorite was the $5.00 cement collar which is very similar to upward sloping. It is less than one pound of wet mix concrete spread in a circular manner around the base of a post. It’s a big moneymaker if you understand (1) 60 lbs of concrete only cost $3.56.

Let us address the second part of your question: Concrete and rotting. At the AFA National Convention, I heard a lot of theory as to why posts with concrete rot, but only one made the most sense. “In my state, the problem is farmers think they are fencers and fencers thank they are farmers,” said the owner of a third-generation fence company from Upstate New York. It sounded silly as I listen, but then he got technical. I soon realized he had a point, a similar point that Custom Fence Orlando and Paramount Fencing have expressed for 14 years. Simply put, everyone in Florida knows how to install a fence, they just don’t understand what they are installing. Moreover, it is not the concrete that rots the post, it is the fence companies lack knowledge. So let’s get technical.

SO WHY DO WE RECOMMEND NO CONCRETE?

This is Florida. It is not Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska, New Jersy, or California. We receive about 53.19 inches of annual precipitation a year. The majority of that precipitation occurs in a six-month span, so the question becomes where does all that rain go? The answer is it seeps downward towards the water table, which creates a normal groundwater level, just below the land surface. Depending on the geological composition of an individual’s property such as sugar sand, Florida Pan Dirt, clay, or limestone–the normal underground water level can be found within 12 inches of the surface during the rainy season and 6 feet in the dry season.

Understand, wood is no different than a sponge. If one end of a sponge is placed in water, it will eventually suck up the water saturating the whole. Unlike the sponge, water cannot be easily removed by simply squeezing or ringing the lumber out. In order to dry, wood needs 30 days of complete and aired like conditions. Neither occurs when a post is buried in the ground and surrounded by concrete. Dirt is a natural absorbent and will become the post best hope. All concrete does is trap the residual moister that was soaked up and creates a breeding ground for fungal decay which creates living organisms called rot. Yes, it is alive.

Yes. Rot is hungry/hangry living organisms. It exists and feast on a wood post in a zone approximately 4-5″ above ground level and 7- 8 inches just below ground level. Pressure-treated or not; fungal decay will eventually win because all it needs is a food source, moister, oxygen, and the perfect temperature. Here is why: The purpose of pressure treating is to make the lumber rot-resistant, not water-resistant. As a result, pressure-treated lumber will still absorb and shed moisture which leads to expanding and contracting of the post. In a nutshell, the lumber will twists, crack, bend, cus, and ultimately destroy itself. It not a question of if. It’s just a question when.

The question is how do you limit fungal decay and living rot. It is simple science. The science that has been studying by major universities such University of Florida IFAS and organization such as the American Society For Microbiology. Fungal decay is not a new topic. Science can now map the DNA of different species of fungal rot. As earlier discussed, rot is a living breathing organism that needs three key ingredients: Moisture, Oxygen, and The perfect temperature. So if you want to minimize the rotting of wood posts in the State of Florida the answer is simple? Protect the post 4 inches above the grade and 10 inches below the grade: A.K.A the zone. By protecting the zone will assist in eliminating one or two of these key factors. Remember, fungal rots needs all three to thrive.

SO HOW DOES CONCRETE HELP ELIMINATE THESE THREE KEY FACTORS?

It does not. Overall, concrete does eliminate direct contact with the soil underground; however, the pressure-treated lumber expands and contrasts with moisture. When it does, a 16th-inch gap usually develops between the wood post and the concrete. Sounds like a small and irrelevant gap, but so is dirt and microbes which are the building blocks of fungal rot.

Understand, each week landscapers and weedeaters blow around small particles of dirt and organic matter. Fiber eating fungal develops and eats the decaying matter know as grass.  Then comes the rain. Maybe it is the irrigation system or a good wind and it finds that gap.  The bad stuff seeps downward right into the “Zone”.  Mix in some oxygen, the moisture from below, the fact concrete holds a constant temperature and moisture, and those wood posts are going to prematurely rot.  No exceptions.  No mercy.  Concrete simply does not protect the “Zone.”  The only exception would be to use a post that is pressure treated with UC4B which is meant for use in stagnate water but the pressure-treating only works as long as the chemicals remain.   Chances are you would not find UBC4B treated post on the shelf at the local lumber yards or home improvement store.  All they normally stock is UC4A which is meant for a rapid watershed. UC4A is just cheaper to bring to the market.

SO WHY DO FENCE COMPANIES US CONCRETE ON WOOD POST IN FLORIDA?  

It’s not to prevent rot. Most use concrete to create leverage. The main reason is the post length of choice for fence companies is often a 4″ x 4″ x 8′.  As a result, the fence post is only two feet in the ground on a six-foot in height wood fence.  Hence the use of concrete.  What they do not realize is if it is the leverage that they desire, then all they need to do is purchase a longer post.  After all, a 4″ x 4″ x 10′ is the same cost as 4″ x 4″ x 8′ and a bag of concrete combined.

SO WHAT DOES CUSTOM FENCE ORLANDO RECOMMEND?

We suggest two approaches.  The first approach is simple; do nothing.  Let the dirt, when it is dry, do what it does best–absorb the moisture from the post.  Then let the soil’s thermal property go to work as it absorbs the sun’s heat during the dry season.  It will assist in creating irregular temperature within the zone.   The only that remains is oxygen exposure.  Keep in mind, this approach is still vulnerable should we have a wet and muggy year; but overall the post should last 12-14 years.  It is the most cost-effective way for Central Florida homeowners.

The second approach protects the Zone.   There are several products on the market that can completely protect this “Zone” against the three key factors which contribute to fungal decay.  Simply put, the wood post will not long be a food source.   These products are commonly known as “PostSavers.”  They come in all different variations and sizes, but they can get expensive.  Our weapon of choice is a post sever sleeve produced by Postsaver Europe Ltd out of England.  It is a unique and cost-effective way to accomplish the mission.

Best of all, PostSavers are cost-effective.  Overall, the average cost per foot only increases approximately .43 cents.   Considering the Postsaver will extend the life of the post for up to 25 years, that is a small price.   Remember, in the State of Florida we often replace Wood fences every 10-12 years. It’s not because of the runners and pickets.  It because the post rots at grade or in the zone.   For more details on how Postsavers work visit our Postsaver page.

Do I Need A Permit To Building A Custom Fence In Orlando?

Yes. Yes! Yes!!  If you want to build a fence or custom fence within the City limits of Orlando, or any Central Florida municipality,  that fence must be permitted.   Yes. Permitted.  Yes. Approved by the powers to be…Don’t let anyone or custom fence company in Orlando convince you otherwise.  In fact, if a fence company says you don’t need a permit, run.  Run fast.  Don’t look back.   Chances are the fence company or individual is not licensed and insured. Chances are what is being requested will not meet local building codes.

If you are still thinking you don’t need a fence permit, think twice.   Build that custom fence in Orlando without a permit and more likely than not you will be cited and fined until you obtain one.  Then when you try to pull that fence permit, a city permit technician will utter words such as:

  • Historical District
  • Special District
  • Signed and Stamped Architectural Drawing
  • Planned Develop Agreement
  • Pool Code
  • Double Frontage Lot
  • Front Yard Set Back
  • Reverse Corner
  • Right-A-Way
  • Maximize Height Limits
  • Urban Design
  • Department of Transportation
  • Visibility Triangle
  • Corner Clip
  • Administrative Modification
  • Variance and much more…..

So Yes!!! You need a fence permit!  Visit the City of Orlando website and find out more: http://www.cityoforlando.net/permits/   When in doubt call Paramount Fencing or visit them on the web at www.paramountfencing.com 

P.S. ALL MUNICIPALITIES IN CENTRAL FLORIDA AREA REQUIRE FENCE PERMITS, even if you’re replacing. THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS UNINCORPORATED LAKE COUNTY.