What Is the Average Cost to Build a Fence?

Need to install a fence? Here’s what you can expect to pay.

Woman painting a white picket fence.
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Hannes Eyechinger & EyeEm / Getty Images 2019

If you’re looking to keep out nosy neighbors, or keep in a fleet-footed pooch or toddlers, you might be curious what it’d cost to build or repair a fence around your yard.

Like most home improvement projects, the cost to build or repair a fence varies greatly, depending on the total amount of fencing you need, the materials you use, and a number of other factors. Unlike other projects, however, a new fence won’t necessarily add a ton of value to your house—but it can certainly be worth the money in terms of enjoyment and practical benefits.

The Costs of Fence Construction

According to data from Home Advisor, the average cost to build a fence is anywhere from $1,648 to nearly $4,000, with the average sitting around $2,700. The exact pricing depends on many factors, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $13 to $50 per linear foot of fencing if you use average-cost labor and materials.

The terrain of your yard may impact labor costs, too, especially if the area needs to be leveled or is covered in brush.

Below are the line items included in your final total. Some, like permits, won’t be negotiable, but for others, like materials, you’ll need to make decisions that will impact the cost. 

  • Materials, including wood, concrete, pickets, rails, panels, etc.
  • City building permits
  • Utility line marking
  • Preparation of the fence site
  • Contract labor (about $30 to $80 per hour)
  • Delivery or shipping of materials
  • Approvals or permits from your homeowner’s association
  • Gates ($75 to $1,000)
  • Hardware and decorative elements
  • Removal of old fencing, posts, or concrete

The Cost of Fencing Materials

One of the key decisions you’ll need to make is what material to use for your fence, since prices for various materials can range from under $10 to over $75 per square foot.

  • Chain link ($1,100 to $2,800)
  • Wood ($1,500 to $4,000)
  • Wrought iron (about $2,500)
  • Vinyl ($2,000 to $5,000)
  • Aluminum (2,000 to $5,000)
  • Steel ($10 to $350 per eight-foot section)
  • Wire ($1 to $3 per linear foot)

Another decision you’ll need to make is how high you want the fence to be. A fence that’s at least four to six feet tall—known as a privacy fence—will be more costly than one that’s just a few feet high. Privacy fences are intended to separate your yard, patio or other enclosed space from neighbors and other surrounds, and are typically made of wood, vinyl, or aluminum. They’re good for patios, backyards, and areas with pools or hot tubs. 

Generally, chain link fences are the cheapest option overall. These tend to offer little privacy and are only a few feet high.

Saving Money on Your Fence Installation

If you need a new fence because of weather damage or recent storms, make sure to check your homeowners insurance first.

Your homeowners policy may cover part or all of the replacement, depending on your coverage (though you may need to pay a deductible first).

You can also do the following to reduce the costs of your fence install:

  • Choose simple gates, locks, and other elements
  • Do some or all of the project yourself
  • Choose a lower-height fence or cheaper materials
  • Increase the gap size between planks, rods, or pickets
  • Build your fence in the winter, when contractor demand is low

Work to prevent any costly mistakes, too. Make sure you know what type of soil you’re working with so that contractors can accurately estimate your project costs. You should also know what permits you’ll need for the job, and take time to prep your yard (including any equipment entry points) before your contractor arrives.

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Protecting and maintaining your fence can help you get the most out of your investment. If you have a wood fence, cover it with a weather-resistant stain to keep water and other elements from penetrating the wood. You should also repair any weather damage as it crops up, and be sure to re-stain the fence surface annually.

Keeping outside pests at bay (via regular termite treatments and sprays) can help keep your wood fence in top condition. You might also consider pressure-washing your fence annually to remove any potentially harmful mold or residue from the surface.

Finally, if you’re having the fence professionally installed, make sure you get a warranty for both materials and labor. This can help you cover any damage or repairs needed down the line.