DIY fencing or hire a contractor?

I’m buying a small property. We will need to fence the back half before the horses can come home. I’d like to do pipe fence because it holds up well in this climate. I am a weekend quality welder, but I’m sure I’d shape up fast with a bit of practice.

Would you call in a contractor or DIY?

I have a welder I can borrow but I would have to buy a generator, gas, cutting torch, rent or buy driver/auger and actually DO the work of building the fence. I will have to eventually own all of these things and a tractor because there will be many more fences and shelters to build. BUT…

It’s currently coming costing me about $1100/month to board my horses. So if it takes me 3 months to build then that’s $3300 in board. So at least for the short term it seems like saving a month of board ($1100) plus a generator ($1000) plus shield gas, cutting torch, torch gas, auger/driver, hood, misc… would argue for getting the initial fence built by a professional. I could theoretically still even buy my own materials if I thought I could source them cheaper (I’m not at all convinced of this). Then I can move the horses home and collect equipment and make improvements at my leisure.

On the other hand, I’m cheap so doing it myself is almost always my go to.

I would love to hear your stories of success and horror with either path forward. Did building a fence together save your marriage? Do you know the BEST fence contractor in the central Rio Grande Water Conservancy District and you want to give me their number? Share it here!!! Thanks!

Just on the basis of aesthetics, I would pay a good pro. At my small farm-to-be, the fence will be a prominent feature visible from inside the house. No way would I want to see, every time I looked out a window, a daily, conspicuous reminder of my fencebuilding learning experience.

I have no experience with pipe fence. Mine is a 4 board wooden fence towards front of property with woods posts and woven wire in the back part. My husband and I along with help from family and neighbors did the work. The fence is still standing and I am still married but if I could afford it I would hire it done. The big issue in my case was having the right equipment to do the work. It cost me about as much in equipment (used) as it would have in labor.

Good luck and let us know how the pipe fencing works out!

No experience with pipe fence, but I wholeheartedly applaud your instinct to DIY.

As for whether it’s a threat to a marriage? LOL Personally I think the big projects that we’ve done together strengthen our marriage- you have the shared sense of pride when it’s done and you look at all the work you did. And when there are crazy disasters it’s something we can laugh about together.

I would want to buy the most critical tools such as the tractor and auger rather than rent. Fencing is a hard, hard job, only vworth DIYing if you’ve got good equipment. Those rental units get so beat up by weekend warriors, so you end up fighting crappy equipment unnecessarily.

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I would let a fence crew do it, watch them and go from that later.
You may like their work and have them do more or tackle some of it yourself, or both, as you have time.

At least up front you will be ahead, that first important fence done while you do other and learn the little tricks of the trade from them.

For smaller spaces, we use pipe posts and commercial panels, the better quality ones.
We do that because as time passes, our needs change and we have learned not to put up anything too permanent that we later wish was different or we have to take down to change.

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I don’t think you can decide on hire or not hire until you get pricing from the contractor to know just how much it would cost to pay to have it done.

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If you are doing welding outside, I assume you are talking stick welding?
Those generally are portable welder/generators, you don’t need an extra generator.
Depending on the size and kind of metal, you can buy a chop saw, some of those come with batteries also and a mechanical pipe notcher to do saddle cuts, or buy already made cuts to saddle with, so no need of a cutting torch.

I still think that having someone do the job for you, especially the first part, would be priceless.

How are you getting your posts in?

I’d consider hiring someone to pound the posts (or auger them, but pounding goes SO fast) and doing the welding of rails yourself.

I’ve looked at augers and air assisted post drivers and I’m more inclined toward driving posts. I THINK that would be stout enough in our rather arid sand/clay soil, I do wonder how deep to drive them (3ft for a 6ft fence? Deeper?) I’d have to drill or dig and concrete the corners.

I’m also planning on running electric around the top inside and maybe middle of the fence to stop my 4yo Irish colt from leaning on it. He can taco a cheap pipe gate reaching for a leaf on the other side so I don’t imagine any fence is really good to be strong enough without a zap. That’s who I’m really fencing for, A 17hh cow. I’ve used the charger with him before. It’s a 30 mile solar job and works a dream with nice deep grounds. Before I got that he would just occasionally walk over the no-climb. He’s a savage.

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The welder to borrow is MIG, but I guess in any kind of wind the shield gas blowing off would be the issue? What’s to prevent the same happening with a covered electrode, just that the gas is created by the arc? I’m more comfortable stick welding, so I’m happy to have an excuse to buy that kind of setup. Seems like they are pretty economical with the built in generator, and that would be enough power to push the air compressor assisted post driver I’ve been looking at.

I would be very tempted to pay to have the perimeter done in the pipe fence, perhaps put in the posts/source materials myself. Time is money, and that is a lot of welds. I’d then be inclined to use hot wire to figure out temporary interior paddocks and over time replace those with pipe fence. That lets you weld a bit at a time.
Reasoning on that is multiple: your mental layout of paddocks will almost certainly change when the horses come home, it is easy to move hot wire but hard to move pipe. Secondly, if you have a fence destroyer who respects hot wire only, you will always need the hot wire, so you won’t be losing by having it to hand. (I have 30 mile hard wire charger for mine, I like the taco image…)

If you want to drive posts, this is what we have and have driven in 2/38" posts in easily and lighter 2 7/8" ones that are OD<3":

https://www.danuser.com/attachments/post-drivers/t3-driver

For augers, we have also a Danuser, is 30+ years old now, that has worked wonderfully on most any ground, with an 8" for line posts and 12" auger for corner posts.
We bolt it to the side of our bucket on the tractor, same place we bolt the pole pounder.
Don’t laugh at the set-up, had surgery and was not supposed to lift over 10 lbs.
Concrete mix sacks were 80 lbs, so had to get creative:

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You might check out GoBob Pipe fencing for materials, it sounds like you are probably in their region? I haven’t used them, being up in New England shipping would be insane! But it seems like they have a decent product.

I have been creeping their website daily! My original plan was to drive up to OK and pick up materials, but I’m trying to consider being reasonable. I just need some yahoo to come quote me $15k for fencing 2 acres and I’ll get all indignant and go spend $12k and 3 months doing it myself. :wink:

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The best would be to get a contractor to do it all.
Really worth every penny if you don’t make a living building fence and are set for it already.
By the time you buy tools and supplies one sack and stick at the time, they buy in bulk for many fencing jobs, DIY won’t be any cheaper.
Yes, you will have the machinery and tools to do more, but not enough to ever pay for all of it, compared with just call them when you want some done.

Many use Go Bob pipe supplies and they also can give you reliable contractor leads:

https://www.gobobpipe.com

Edited to say, had not seen Go Bob had already been mentioned, their headquarters are in OK.

My pony will bob up and down standing on the bottom row of our tube gate. We put up electric and he can ground it out and then it doesn’t work. I had to buy a tube gate rated for bulls for a 13H pony.

Why not have the best of both worlds? Do the DIY project for a small pen (not sure if you need dry lots in a dry climate, but that same sort of thing). Move the horses into your pen to save on board, then hire out the big job.

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That is a very good idea! Also gives a person an idea of the work and costs involved but on a smaller scale.

I dunno. What’s the lead times like in your area? Where I’m at, I can bs my way through DIY fences before I can get a pro to come give a quote* You need quotes and lead times from pros before making a decision IMO

Mr LS and I work well together. We enjoy it. YMMV

*i have access to equipment and know how through local family. I did still buy quite a bit of toolage, but like you I will need it anyways.

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With today’s increased material costs this is a “reasonable” ballpark guesstimate.
It cost me around $10K 17yrs ago to fence ~3ac with treated wood posts & coated tensile wire.
Put in by Pros, NoWayInHell I could have done the job myself.