Is Cheap Fence Really Cheaper?

September 9, 2019

A person drops a coin into a piggy bank, with text overlay that reads "Is Cheap Fence Really Cheaper?"

In this business, we encounter a lot of clients who just aren’t willing to invest in their rental fence. We get it. Whether you’re breaking ground on a new construction project or planning a large-scale outdoor music festival, temporary fence is probably the least exciting thing you have to coordinate. Vague regulations around construction hoarding and temporary structures set the bar pretty low, so it’s reasonable to believe that any old fence will do. With so many line items on your budget, why should “fence rental” command any more than a small percentage?

The truth is, picking the cheapest option for your rental fence may or may not save you money in the long run. By focusing strictly on the cheapest rental rate, you may not be considering everything that factors into the total cost of your site containment solution.

Here are three sneaky ways that cheap fence may end up costing you more in the end.

1. You need to supplement it with additional products

There are definitely circumstances which only require the bare minimum when it comes to fencing. If your site is in a wide open field, far removed from roads and pedestrians, you can likely get away with “cheap”, low-quality fence. That’s especially true if the fence is going to be up for some time, and all you need to do is secure the perimeter of the site.

Here’s the thing: there are many other situations that demand more than the bare minimum. And while that cheap fence may start out as the most economical option, by the time you’ve added all the auxiliary products to make sure it fits your needs, you could be spending more than you expected.

Cheaper fence systems typically use shorter, more lightweight components. While that makes them more economical, it can also result in a solution that is not very stable. Short bases contribute to a system that is more prone to tipping, and short caps compromise the security of the fence. Of course, lightweight fence is also more susceptible to wind.

To overcome those issues, you may find yourself adding sandbags, concrete blocks, spikes, or t-bars to anchor the fence. Knowing that your fence lacks stability, you might also decide to rent cones, delineators, or traffic drums to further separate your site from the general public. All of these products carry an additional cost, and those costs can quickly negate any savings resulting from renting cheap fence.

Cheap temporary chain link fence reinforced with sand bags

This inexpensive chain link-style temporary fence had to be reinforced with sand bags and wooden pallets. It still doesn’t look very stable or reliable, does it?

2. You’ve underestimated your requirements

Though this isn’t always the case, it’s likely that your cheap fence comes with zero service. Most suppliers who offer economy fence will minimize their costs by providing drop service only. Although that saves you some money, it leaves you (or your crew) stuck with the task of installing the fence. While installing temporary fence isn’t exactly rocket science, many customers fail to consider whether they have the time or manpower to set up their own fence. Of course, there is also a cost to having your own people handle the installation.

This really comes down to understanding your requirements, and making sure that your fence supplier can meet those needs. Again, not every site or project demands turnkey rental fence service. But the expertise of professional fence installers can be invaluable in minimizing your risks and achieving your desired set-up. Having someone else install your fence also allows your employees to focus on their work, keeping you on schedule.

Make sure to take the time to fully (and realistically) consider your needs before committing to the cheapest option. This ensures you will get the best value – which should be treated as separate from cost.

3. It exposes you to liability

Possibly the biggest “hidden” cost is the liability that accompanies cheaper fence. Lightweight economy fence can expose you to a number of risks. It is more prone to toppling or blowing over onto pedestrians or vehicles. Carelessly installed fence frequently becomes a tripping hazard. Trips and falls are arguably the most common lawsuit faced by fence suppliers and their customers!

Inexpensive fencing is easier to breach, which can create a big problem whether you run festivals or a construction site. Imagine a member of the public gaining unauthorized access to a live construction site or excavation, and all of the hazards found in that environment. The events industry has also seen its fair share of tragedies caused by poorly executed temporary structures.

Though your cheap fence may appear to meet all of the bylaws and regulations on paper, it may not stand up to the scrutiny of a formal investigation. This is what we call the “fence only trap”. The onus is on you to do your due diligence and select a temporary fence solution that will adequately protect your workers, attendees, and members of the general public. If you’re found liable for an accident or injury, the financial repercussions will far exceed the dollars you saved on your fence rental.

Pick the right solution for you

Depending on your unique situation, “cheap” economy fence may be sufficient. In fact, even Modu-Loc offers a light duty fence for those circumstances. But cheap fence could also end up costing you just as much as (if not more than) a more expensive site containment solution. When choosing your temporary fence, be realistic about your requirements and do your due diligence. Conduct a risk assessment and be honest with yourself about any potential liabilities. This will help you select the right solution for your site, and get you the most value for your dollar.

Looking for a better way to save money on your temporary fence rental? Check out “5 Ways to Save on Your Fence Rental Bill” for some practical tips.

Author: Joanna Bieda

Joanna Bieda is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals, and has been with the company since 2014. She loves writing and is a self-professed data nerd. She thoroughly enjoys teaching customers about all things fence via Modu-Loc's blog.

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