Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 41 Posts

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a new residential specialty contractor here in Portland, OR. I have been in business just about a year now and, until now, have mostly done fence repairs or new installs that didn't require a permit such as anything 6 feet tall or under.

I am now starting a job where my client wants a 6 foot tall fence and gate with a trellis running along the whole top of it. The trellis would be up around 8 feet tall, and I understand that anything over 6 feet requires a building permit.

My permit was approved for the project, but only if I use 6x6 posts and dig holes 18" in diameter and 3ft deep. This seems excessive to me, and I'm curious what other contractors' experiences are with this sort of situation. I see many fences around town over 6ft with 4x4 posts, and while I would always put the posts down at least 3ft, 18" in diameter seems huge! What is standard for this kind of work? Did I just get an exceptionally demanding guy at the permit office? He said that they don't get many requests for fence permits, just decks - which seems odd.

I just called 2 different locations of a large fence company and posed as a homeowner. The first guy, at the Vancouver location said, yes, anything over 6 feet tall needs to be 6x6 posts and permitted. The second guy, at the Gresham location said, they just use their custom 5x5 posts and that's fine. When I asked him about the fact that the permit office told me they had to be 6x6s he kind of backtracked and said, look, we'll build you whatever you want and it's up to you, as the homeowner, if you get a permit or not. You, as the homeowner, are responsible for the permit and permits are really only needed if someone turns you in. If you get turned in, it's on the homeowner and not on us (the contractor). Is that right? It was my understanding from the CCB that the contractor can get fined up to $5,000 dollars for building without a required permit. Is it the homeowner that gets fined and nothing happens to us contractors?
 

·
Love me some Concrete
Joined
·
1,834 Posts
Wrong here in Iowa, the person in trouble is the one building it!!!

If you build it, it's up to you to have the permit. Permits are cheap really and save a big arse headache in the end. Get to know you're inspector and I have 1 of them that actually helps me frame on off days and weekends, so he never "inspects" my work.

If you want to make a bad name for yourself, buck heads with the city. They will always win, more than likely you will need a permit again and they will hassle you. Call the inspector office, get what he wants and follow it.
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, I am just shocked by the number of fences I see that are taller than 6 feet with 4x4 posts. Nice fences, high dollar, well designed and built by large fence companies that have employees that specifically get permits everyday for decks anyway. Why would they build illegal fences?

I read stuff on here all the time where different inspectors let some things slide while others do not. I was wondering if it's the same with the permits department. Maybe once they know you, they will give you a permit to build a 8 foot fence with 4x4s instead of asking the structural engineer and coming back with 6x6s only.

It's a bummer that because my client hired me and I'm honest, she can't have a fence like the ones she sees all over town.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,855 Posts
I suggest you stop splitting hairs and price out the job according to the township's specifications/requirements and move forward.

Every township is different. You do have the option #2, with some "smaller" townships of informally and formally having your plans approved even if they are contrary to their requirements. I had that experience. The township required one thing. I respectfully requested another. They agreed and signed off on my permit. That was Evesham Twp, NJ.
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I will definitely not build this fence without a permit and will do it as they say I need to. It is probably going to be a deal breaker, though because the permit is $435 and 6x6s are $200 each vs $40 each for 4x4s. I bid this job $1500 dollars thinking the permit would be a couple hundred dollars at most and not knowing I would have to use 6x6s.

There's a good chance my client will just go with someone else that will do it without a permit. She may even think I'm just trying to get another $1500 dollars out of her by effectively doubling my original estimate.

I understand it's not worth it but it's still a bummer.

Thanks so much for all your responses. It's very helpful to have experienced people to get answers and perspectives from.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,855 Posts
You really need to rethink that.

In my opinion, your potential client has two options, get a fence installed, with a permit, according to twp's requirements. Or, skip the job altogether.

If I went through the trouble of quoting this job, I'm not sure I would allow the fence to go up without a permit.

Just sayin', is all.
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I understand what you're saying.

I'll call the inspector on Tuesday and talk to him about it since it seems like he's the last word. I'm thinking maybe I should submit new drawings to see if I can use metal posts and clad them with cedar. That would keep the cost down, look nice, and be very solid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
For a fence permit in my area, you do not need a building permit. But you do need to apply through the town and there is no inspections.
I am a little disturbed about your 6'' x 6'' pricing being so high! $200? Whew!
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ya, $200 is a hefty price for a 6x6 but they are 12 feet long and really beautiful western red cedar. That's a big chunk of tree. And the place is milling all the sides down smooth for me.

I am new though so I'm sure I will make better connections and eventually get better prices.
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Are you getting the property surveyed?
I am not getting the property surveyed or at least wasn't planning on it. Maybe I should?

Oh, are you talking about locating underground utilities? If so, then yes - always.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,855 Posts
No. Talking about defining property lines. How would you know where to put the fence without knowing the property lines?

I recently replaced a chain-link fence
that was a little over 320 linier feet with vinyl. After I had the property surveyed it was discovered that the fence I was replacing was just under 3' from the property line. So, after the install the customer gained that space.

I mean this with respect, I really do, you may want to pass on this job. It just doesn't seem like you have the experience necessary. I think you should gain some of that first.

Or, bring in a partner on this job who had more experience.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
24,650 Posts
Ya, $200 is a hefty price for a 6x6 but they are 12 feet long and really beautiful western red cedar. That's a big chunk of tree. And the place is milling all the sides down smooth for me.

I am new though so I'm sure I will make better connections and eventually get better prices.
I am not getting the property surveyed or at least wasn't planning on it. Maybe I should?

Oh, are you talking about locating underground utilities? If so, then yes - always.
No knowledge of permitting process, or familiarity with local codes...

Material knowledge is lacking....

A fence of this size & NO Survey....you nucking futs....

You sound more like a HO in disguise....:laughing:
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ah, I see what you are saying about property lines. And, yes, if the fence was establishing property lines, I would make sure to find out exactly where they were.

This fence is just going across the top of their driveway and sectioning off a small privacy space in front of their converted garage.

I appreciate your candor and your upfront show of respect. And I'll definitely consider bringing someone more experienced in on future jobs that I have so many questions about.

I feel very confident about my fence building experience and skills. I overbuild everything and do really detailed work. I, luckily, don't have to advertise anymore because I always go the extra mile and get lots of referrals. It's everything else besides actual construction where I lack the experience and I'm seeing that is a huge part of this business.

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,977 Posts
masonbee said:
Yes, I am just shocked by the number of fences I see that are taller than 6 feet with 4x4 posts. Nice fences, high dollar, well designed and built by large fence companies that have employees that specifically get permits everyday for decks anyway. Why would they build illegal fences? .
that's done around here a lot too, I see a lot of 6'6" fences done illegally. A 6' fence is usually a tad short, it's just low enough to where your neighbors can peak over it so they like to cheat and add 6". An 8' illegal fence I think is going too far, 6'6" maybe. From what I gather talking to the building officials, seems they don't really even care when someone builds an illegal fence too tall, but if a neighbor ever complained they would have to force the person to lower it. I've never heard of the 6x6 rule for tall fences, around here most cities don't even allow a fence over 6'. My guess is they are concerned about wind load in your area, but for a trellace I agree I think they are going over board.
 

·
Mason Bee Woodcraft, LLC
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
No knowledge of permitting process, or familiarity with local codes...

Material knowledge is lacking....

A fence of this size & NO Survey....you nucking futs....

You sound more like a HO in disguise....:laughing:
That's very upfront of you and nicely covered in superiority. I am a HO and a very experienced professional woodworker and metalworker, as well.

Like I said, I'm new to the contractor business and still learning. The fence is only about 11 feet in length and isn't on the property line. This is my first project that isn't just a custom gate or short fence replacement.

It's a little disappointing that new people aren't allowed to not know everything right off the bat.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
24,650 Posts
Go spend some time at your Planning/Bldg Dept. and become VERY familiar with their fence building codes and their permitting process.

Contractor is always liable for permits.

On your current project try non-incised PT posts...way cheaper

That Cedar is a bit overkill unless there is a HUGE aesthetic issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,855 Posts
Griz, if he went with another wood and stained it a cedar tone, should he use an oil base or water base stain?

I wish I new the difference

LMFAO
 
1 - 20 of 41 Posts
Top