Asked on Aug 07, 2014

How to correct poorly installed wood fence?

Skip Miller
by Skip Miller
How can a poorly installed 6" traditional with Cap cedar wood fence be fixed? Our contract was written for a 6" cedar wood fence traditional with wood cap. The installers started building another style of fence (shadow box/board on board?) before realizing error. The Fence poles had been set 4" per code and in cement and rails had already been attached to posts. When mistake realized the crew removed top rail and placed (same rail used) in correct position at the top of 6 foot posts. The bottom rails were not removed and placed in the correct place at the bottom of the posts. The lower rail is not in spec with the traditional with cap fence. There are gaps between pickets/fence boards and the ground providing ample room for pet to escape. The upper rails and the fence posts have multiple nails and removed nail holes. Most the rails/pole/caps are not flush. Besides ascetics and not receiving the fence we agreed to purchase, I wonder if the extra nailing will effect the quality and lifetime of the cedar wood? Is there any way to correct the problems short of removing and starting over? Any help appreciated!
Shows lower rail not in correct place at bottom of boards and gap between boards and fence.
Upper rail has been moved to top of pole and hammered over first set of nail holes.
Bottom corner shows rail in wrong place, poor cuts and not flush. This is one place there is no gap.
Opposite corner shows rail to high, gap,connection to neighbors' chain link
Nails left when rails moved.
Shows length of fence. can not see the gap or bottom rail placement here but shows the lindeof the fence.
Shows post, cap, top rails once they were removed and placed at top. Poor cuts. boards not flush. Most of posts look this way on both sides.
Good nieghbor side of fence shows hail hole from bottom rail on inside of fence. Rail was placed for another style of fence which probably would have hid these marks.
Another fence post view.
Shows post at gate with top rail nailed second time.
  13 answers
  • If you have a contract to install the fence a special way and they did not install it in that manner, They need to remove the fence and install what you paid for. However if you already paid them, in effect you acknowledged the acceptance by doing so, the result being is your going to have to chase them to get them to fix it. I have a feeling that you did pay them already for this work. Obtain the advice of a lawyer if they do not respond to your WRITTEN request to make it right. At this point extra nails will not really hurt anything other then the beauty of what should be a new fence. As far as the fence not close enough to the ground, that is a subjective concern. If in writing the agreement was to keep the fence a set distance off or into the soil, then you have some grounds for disappointment. If not your really not going to have a whole lot of luck on that. I agree that distance from the soil appears to be a bit high and the unevenness of the bottom of the boards appear to be off. But with any wood fence, the ground does go up and down and its common to have gaps under the fence bottom. The workmanship appears to be sloppy. Fence caps and posts typically extend a few inches above the fence where the cap is supposed to be slightly larger then the post. This allows water to drain off of the post preventing rot and decay. The caps are not just there for decoration So the top rail should have been down about three inches or so to make things look right. Read over the agreement you had with contractor. If you have not paid for the final job, hold the money. Speak to the contractor and put in writing a copy of what you talked about that your disappointed in the workmanship of the job and that they need to replace the wood and install the fence properly. Do a CC to you attorney so he or she is in the loop, Give the company a few days after they get the letter in the certified mail receipt to respond. If they do not, call the attorney and have them handle this. If you simply try to accept some of this poor workmanship, you will be sadly upset every time you look at the fence. If the workmanship is as poor as it looks, this fence will not last very long, And I am sure you paid a lot of money for the job.
    • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 08, 2014
      Thank you for your reply! Great help very appreciated. I will post results of how the fence fixing comes along.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Aug 08, 2014
    That is why I always have someone at home when projects are done! It is a easier to stop a wrong project than have them come back and redo it!
    • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 08, 2014
      So true! Live and learn. I am thankful for all the folks here willing to share wisdom, knowledge and advice!
  • House Of Hawthornes House Of Hawthornes on Aug 08, 2014
    Yep, have them remove and put it in correctly. You most likely paid more for this type of fence over a regular style picket fence anyhow (I know when we had ours done that type was an option, but was much more expensive than a picket type), so they should give you what you expected and paid for. That is not a good fencing job. At all.
    • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 08, 2014
      Pam, Thank you for your comments. Nice to know I am not overly critical or crazy for finding flaws in our new fence! We have a walkthrough with the contractor scheduled to see how things may be resolved. I will keep you posted.
  • Opal Opal on Aug 09, 2014
    I'm really sorry this went so wrong for you. You're right, you should certainly not accept this, it is sloppy at best and likely not even stable at worst. I don't think it will hold through the first storm. I did not see a single metal bracket holding the horizontal beams, the top beams don't look like they are not even attached at the post at all (just nailed to the planks), the posts don't look tall enough or the planks are too high, the planks in the dirt will rot, and nothing lines up. The list goes on and on. Hang in there and hold out for a complete rebuild. Thank you for posting, you have likely saved others from this mess. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 09, 2014
    Opal, Thank you for your comments regarding my new fence. I appreciate all the help, encouragement and shared wisdom as we work through this project repair. Will keep you all posted.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 10, 2014
    You have a contract. They didn't install as per contract. They did a sloppy, substandard quick "fix". Get a lawyer.
  • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 11, 2014
    Fence Fix Update Thank you all for your help and encouragement. So thankful to have found this group of folks so willing to share expertise and knowledge. Had a walk through the fence problems with the contractor's installation manager and crew foreman this morning. The company is in agreement we did not receive the fence ordered in our contract. They also agree there are many structural and quality problems. They want to do whatever it takes to make it right. It was determined we have 3 viable options (let me know if you have any other ideas): 1. Total do-over, including pulling posts (cemented in post hole); providing a remake of the fence we originally ordered. 2. Take down pickets and rails. Leave posts which are spaced at 8' on center, whereas the fence we ordered had the posts spaced at 100" on center to accommodate even placement of 16- 6" pickets between posts. Using new rails and pickets build the tradition with caps style fence, albeit, without exactly 16 pickets, but with the 6 " pickets plus one cut picket to fit the extra space. 3. We select a different style of fence for the rebuild, allowing use of current fence posts. The other styles would be shadow box, board on board and so on. Unfortunately, we were very much wanting the traditional with cap fence because it is beautiful on both the neighbors side and on the side. Please know the installation manager asked if we would be agreeable to option #2 and #3 if offered a "discount" of an specified amount/percentage of original quoted price. He also suggested an option we found unacceptable and thus have not even considered which was "fix" the obvious problems with current fence (in pictures above). Any comments, advise, suggestions welcome. We asked the contractor for a day to think about how we want to proceed. Thank you to those of you who have been so helpful and encouraging! Have a great Monday, Skippy
  • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 11, 2014
    Fence Fix Update One more question. What would a fair/customary "discount" be if we select option #2 or #3? In terms of % of original quote? The original fence we ordered was the highest price fence. We selected because of the beauty. Although I am happy to save money, cost is not our number one concern. As several of you mentioned, the price of looking at a fence I am not happy with everyday is too high!
  • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 11, 2014
    Thank you for the suggestions but this doesn't answer my question because waiting for contractor quote for fixing/replacing fence.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 12, 2014
    You mean a different contractor? Take lots of pics, gather your info including quote to redo. I'd see a lawyer, as I said. This is a lot of money, a lot of aggravation.
  • Skip Miller Skip Miller on Aug 12, 2014
    Marion, thank you for commenting. Yes, same company. They are known locally for very fine work and customer care so we really hope we can work through this with them. They are very willing to go forward with whatever plan we decide upon. They also are prepared to do the job as soon as we are ready. All these things make me want to try to work it out with this company. I may be crazy or naive, but still hoping for best possible outcome!
    • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 13, 2014
      @Skip Miller Sounds like you have a company that does care about client satisfaction. Hope it works out. Was in a situation but with roofing. Poor job, poor quick fix, and then the run around. Think they thought I would just give up and go away. For $80, a brief letter from a lawyer got the required action.
  • Opal Opal on Aug 13, 2014
    I don't know what a reasonable discount would be. I would have the whole thing ripped out and get what you loved originally. When I looked at these posts I noticed that they are not treated lumber and wonder if they should be. I always thought that you had to use treated lumber when it was in the ground for rot reasons. Secondly, these posts will have the original nail holes in them which will be unsightly and detract from the fence which you will see every time you look at it, I don't think I would want that. Plus if the posts had been placed correctly I don't think you would have the gaps, which you would likely still have if they were left as is. If you do leave the posts, I would ask for a 10-15% discount for using used material. If you redo with all existing material, I would go for 30%. I am not in the know about that. I would ask what they are offering first.
  • H.C. Lawn H.C. Lawn on Mar 18, 2015
    CEDAR Does not come treated poor cuts looks like cross rail not anchored to post just anchored to 1x face boards 5 th pic down . if he did that poor of a job above ground did you see the depth of holes at least 24 inches deep . Only 2 way i can think of . new boards for ones too short . or they make a fence bracket .looks like a deck hanger found under each deck by house ./ you can always fill the holes with a putty . that 5 pic that post is not plum one side or other will not work .