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Fences & Retaining Walls
Layout, Design and Construction Techniques for Wood, Masonry and Chain Link Fences as well as Retaining and Rock Walls

By William McElroy

Everything you need to know to run a profitable business in fence and retaining wall contracting.

Takes you through layout and design, construction techniques for wood, masonry, and chain link fences, gates and entries, including finishing and electrical details.

How to build retaining and rock walls. How to get your business off to the right start, keep the books, and estimate accurately. The book even includes a chapter on contractor's math.

No matter what type of fence you plan to build, this practical manual has the information you need to do professional quality work, from selecting the right materials to laying out each post and applying the right finish. Anyone who builds fences and retaining walls can use the simplified designs and construction methods, time- and money-saving tips, and practical advice in this manual. It's the most complete, most useful, most up-to-date reference available for every fence, railing and retaining wall job.

Thumb through the pages of this book. You'll notice right away the detailed, easy-to-follow explanations, hundreds of photos and diagrams and step-by-step instructions - for every common type of fence, rail and retaining wall:

  • Board, rail and picket fences
  • Construction details and tips
  • Welded metal fences and rails
  • Plywood panel fences
  • Concrete block & brick walls
  • Retaining walls & rock walls
  • Chain link & wire fences
  • Troubleshooting & repairs
  • Gates & entrances
  • Wiring & plumbing in walls

If you're handling your first fence job, you'll appreciate the clear explanation of basic fence and wall building principles. But even experienced professional fence and wall builders can use the tips and tricks explained here: setting up a fence contracting company, selling fence work, contracts, bookkeeping, and a complete chapter on estimating (with manhour tables covering every part of just about any job you'll handle). Includes blank forms you can copy and use when planning and bidding jobs.

Bill McElroy has been in the construction industry nearly thirty years. Most of what's in this book he had to learn the hard way - by doing it. He knows how to do professional quality work, spot potential problems before they become major headaches and what to do when "surprises" come along. He compiled this manual so others just learning the trade will have at their fingertips all the information it took him years to discover.

400 pages - 8-1/2 x 11in.

ISBN: 0-934041-53-9


Contents

1 Fence & Wall Specialties, 5
Modern Fence Building, 6
Get Your License, 16
Laws Governing Employers, 22
2 Layout & Design, 25
The Finer Points of Design, 26
Drawing the Plans, 35
Build a Model, 58
3 Wood Fences, 59
Rough Cut vs. Milled Lumber, 60
Moisture Content, 60
Grading, 61
Chemically-Treated Alternatives, 63
Fasteners, 65
Setting Fence Posts, 67
Installing the Rails, 69
Mounting the Board Stock, 70
Wood Fence Designs and Variations, 71
Construction Details, 79
4 Block Walls & Brick Walls, 84
Materials, 84
Types of Block, 89
Estimating Foundation Concrete, 95
Pouring and Leveling the Concrete, 96
Laying the Block, 97
Top Treatments, 98
Allowing for Drainage, 100
Putting It All Together, 100
Brick Walls, 106
5 Chain Link & Wire Fences, 113
Posts, 113
Top Rails, 114
Tension Bars and Bands, 114
Carriage Bolts, 115
Post Caps, 116
How Much Should You Charge? 121
Construction Techniques, 121
Wire Fences and Barbed Wire, 126
Stretching Wire Fences, 131
Electrical Grounding, 134
6 Metal Fences, 138
Use Prefab Fencing? 139
Welding Safety, 140
General Information, 153
7 Gates & Entrances, 155
Gate Design and Location, 155
Wooden Gates, 158
Metal Gates, 164
Gates of All Kinds, 170
8 Finishing Fences & Walls, 174
Protective Coatings, 175
When to Apply Coatings, 184
Painting Tools of the Trade, 184
Color, 186
Keeping Coatings on the Fence, 187
9 Troubleshooting and Repairs, 188
Maintenance Contracts, 188
Is It Worth Fixing? 189
Maintaining Wood Fences, 191
Maintaining Walls, 197
Repairing Chain Link, 202
10 Wiring & Plumbing, 205
Electric Power, 207
Converting AC to DC, 207
Switches, 208
Invisible Fences, 209
Electrician's Primer, 209
Conduit, 216
Choosing the Right Fixtures, 220
Plumbing, 221
Fire Sprinklers, 223
Maintaining Electrical & Plumbing Systems, 224
11 Retaining Walls & Rock Walls, 228
Natural Earth Barriers, 228
Building Retaining Walls, 235
Building Rock Walls, 243
12 Get Your Business Started Right, 250
You Supply Startup Money, 253
Find a Customer or Two, 255
13 The Books You Keep, 270
The Chart of Accounts, 271
The Spreadsheet, 271
Asset Records, 276
Markups and Overhead, 280
How Much Do You Want to Make? 282
Budgeting Business Expenses, 285
Paperwork Controls, 288
14 Sales & Contractor's Law, 291
The Presentation Booklet, 292
Special Selling Situations, 294
15 Safety on theJob, 314
General Safety Regulations, 315
Risks, Hazards, and Accident Prevention, 320
16 Estimating, 323
The Rules of Good Estimating, 323
Account for All Your Time, 331
Can You Assign Unit Costs? 334
When You Lose a Bid, 334
The Take-off Forms, 335
Manhour Tables, 351
17 Contractor's Math, 367
Mathematical Terms, 367
Areas of Flat Surfaces, 369
Measuring Curved Shapes, 371
Converting Units of Measurement, 372
Square Root, 376
Degrees, Minutes, Seconds, 381
Metric Conversion Table, 382
Glossary, 383
Index, 390

400 pages - 8-1/2 x 11in.


Chapter One

Fence and Wall Specialties

It's hard to imagine a world without fences. We need them to keep some things in and other things out. We need them to preserve our privacy. A world without fences? Not likely. And that's why fence building is good business for construction contractors. Nearly every significant new construction project includes a fence or wall. If you're qualified to build fences and retaining walls, there will be work to bid on nearly every job. That can help build a nice extra profit into every project you handle.

This book is written for professional fence and retaining wall builders. Maybe you're already a licensed contractor. Maybe you're working in the trade on the payroll of a contractor. Maybe you're building your first fence. Or maybe you're a student who wants to learn fence and wall building. It doesn't matter, this manual has the information you need.

Established contractors will learn the fine points of fence building - including suggestions on dealing with customers, employees and the I.R.S. After reading this book, you'll probably want to pass it along to a friend, apprentice, or new employee.

If you're new to fence building, you should have no trouble following my explanations. I'll take it step by step and include all the pictures you could want. That should make it easier to learn the essentials of fence building.

If you're an apprentice studying for your license, this book is for you. I wrote it with the California C-13 Fence Contractor's license exam in mind. Between the covers of this manual you'll find answers to nearly all the questions on the exam. The business chapters will help you set up your own contracting business and keep you from making expensive mistakes.

For the homeowner building a first fence, I've provided simplified designs and construction techniques. The section on fence and retaining wall problems can help you avoid mistakes others have made. You'll also learn to fix existing fences and walls. I've included a glossary of terms, so when you talk to suppliers and contractors, you'll be speaking their language.

Teachers can use this book as a course manual. It covers everything from setting up a business, selling and preparing legal contracts, to building fences and walls. Throughout this manual I've tried to use plain conversational English that's easy for students to follow.

All readers will benefit from the chapter on safety.

You'll learn about all kinds of fences, gates, retaining walls, sea walls, and railings. We'll cover the most familiar types and styles of fences and walls, and several uncommon types. I'll describe all the common construction methods and dozens of materials. You'll see what kinds of equipment you need to build each type of fence. And I've included a section on estimating costs and manhours.

With all this in mind, let's start with:

History of Fences

The first true fences were probably barriers to animals. For protection, primitive people probably used piles of rocks or logs to protect their possessions and families from other tribes. Rocks were laid in horizontal courses and held in place with mud. The first mortars were dried mud or earth. Even at this early time, fence building must have become a skill to be learned and passed from generation to generation.

Early tribes were nomad hunters who traveled from place to place. Fences didn't have to be any more than temporary. As time passed, people learned to grow crops and domesticate animals. At this point, they needed more permanent ways to mark off their fields and corral their livestock. They made fences from rocks or trees cleared from their planting fields. They made corrals by suspending vines and rope between logs and trees the forerunner of the barbed wire fence.

In areas of the world where trees and rocks aren't readily available, people had to make fences out of soil. Ordinary dirt mixed with water can be molded into a building block. But dry blocks of dirt erode very easily in the rain. Some earth materials hold up better when wet. Clay from river banks, ponds, and mines, for example, was used to make more durable adobe block. Then someone discovered that heating clay fire-hardened and waterproofed the blocks.

Centuries later we learned to draw heated metal through a small hole, turning it into wire. That's a fine material to fence in animals and fence out trespassers.

People are very adaptable. In their search for homes near food, entertainment, work and riches, they sometimes built homes on the edges of mountains, oceans, and rivers. But nature is an unpredictable adversary. Mountains fall, oceans rise, and rivers flood. That's why man invented retaining walls, sea walls, and dikes. Cement made all that possible. Mix cement with sand, gravel and water. Then form and cure the mix to hold back that mountain, ocean, or river.

Even though people are independent by nature, they need each other. They formed groups that developed into towns and cities. As people moved closer together, the urge to maintain privacy increased. An industry matured and prospered - the fence building industry.

Modern Fence Building

To compete effectively as a fence builder, you need a wholesale materials supplier who will sell to you at a discount. You'll also need a vehicle and certain tools. You need to know how to construct a sound, legal wall and how to make money doing it. That's what this manual is going to teach.

Later in this chapter, I'll tell you how much it costs to set up a fence contracting business and what you'll need to know. For now, let's begin with a discussion of the various types of fence contracting specialties and the equipment you'll need for each.

Block Walls

Block walls are very common in the southwestern United States because the materials are readily available there. The principal materials are adobe or cement blocks, steel reinforcing bars (rebar), mortar and lumber. Figure 1-1 shows a typical block wall in a residential development. Here's an equipment list - what you'll need to get started in block wall construction:

  • vehicle, 3/4 to 1 ton truck
  • transit for laying out wall (optional)
  • motor-driven cement mixer
  • chisels for cutting block
  • circular saw for cutting forming lumber
  • trowels for spreading mortar
  • rebar cutter
  • crowbar
  • sledge hammer
  • claw hammer
  • chalk line
  • cord and line blocks
  • mortarboard
  • assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches
  • levels, 18 inch and 6 foot
  • wire cutters to tie rebar
  • drill and assortment of masonry bits
  • protective clothing and glasses

It will cost you about $20,000 to buy everything on the list. I'm assuming your supplier will deliver materials to the job site and will provide a forklift. I'm also assuming that you'll subcontract the trenching work to someone with a backhoe. You'll also need a cement contractor to lay the foundation.

Sometimes you won't be able to get a concrete truck close to the job site. Then you'll have to pump cement through a large hose (about 4 inches in diameter) from the truck to the wall location. Pumping also works very well when pouring into narrow, formed-out foundations or wall cavities.

Most transit mix concrete trucks hold about 9 cubic yards of concrete. You'll be charged by the cubic yard, of course. But if you order less than 9 yards, you'll probably have to pay a surcharge for the short load. Still, I order transit mix concrete for any job that needs more than 3 cubic yards at once. Less than that and you're probably better off mixing it yourself on site.

Brick Walls

These require about the same equipment as block walls. You'll be working with more but smaller building units. Brick work is popular nationwide, but more common in the Northeast.

Brick is also used extensively in the Southeast where Georgia clay abounds. Once again, the cost of basic equipment needed by a brick contractor would be about $20,000. Figure 1-2 is an attractive brick wall with some interesting design detail.

Rock Walls

These fall into two categories, natural rock and manmade rock. Natural rock walls are common in rural areas where rock is the waste product when land is cleared. Rock wall builders don't need any special tools except a tractor, a wagon to cart the rock, and a strong back. When rock walls are laid in mortar, mortar mixing equipment is needed. You'll usually have to lay a foundation and will need a cement contractor. Figure 1-3 shows a wall of natural rock.

Manmade rock veneer is popular with some architectural styles. It's usually applied over wood frame or concrete block walls. The contractor who frames the wall or lays the block may also apply the veneer. The tools required for applying veneer are the same as for building block walls.

Poured Concrete Walls

These are reasonably inexpensive compared with other types of walls. They're very strong and can be used in most areas. You'll need forms, usually made of wood, fiberglass, or sheet metal. They come in sections that you can assemble and remove easily. You'll need a concrete pumping service to pump concrete from the truck to the forms. You'll also need a source for rebar to reinforce the concrete.

For some jobs it's cheaper to use prefab wall sections. If this is your choice, you'll need a crane or hoist to place these sections in position. The other equipment and tools are about the same as for wall building, with the addition of the forms. Forms for a job can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Figure 1-4 shows a poured concrete wall that's part of a storm channel.

Wire Mesh Fences

This is an easy type of fence contracting to get into. Wire mesh fencing is common in rural and semi-rural areas where ranchers have to enclose animals and fowl rather than restrict access to people. These are the materials you'll need to build wire fences:

  • a truck, 1/2 ton, 8-foot bed or larger
  • a hand truck for moving rolls of mesh
  • gas-powered post hole digger
  • a block and tackle or stretcher
  • wire cutters
  • wheelbarrow
  • gas-powered cement mixer
  • long tape measure, 100 feet minimum
  • level, 6 foot
  • transit for layout and leveling long sections
  • string line and batten
  • shovel, pick, hoe and manual post hole digger
  • assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches

This setup will cost about $15,000. Unless there’s a high demand for wire mesh fencing, I suggest you handle barbed wire and chain link fencing as well as wire mesh.

Barbed Wire Fences

In rural areas ranchers use barbed wire to contain cattle on rangeland. It’s also used to mark off fields, though any hunter can climb through it. Sometimes you’ll find barbed wire along the top of chain link fences to discourage people from climbing over. See Figure 1-5.

The equipment is the same as you’d need for wire mesh fence contracting. The wire stretcher is a different design, and you’ll need a hammer or two. The cost to get started is the same.

Chain Link Fences

You'll find chain link fences mostly in urban commercial areas. They're very effective for keeping intruders out of storage areas, off factory grounds, and out of streams and lakes. They may be used inside factories to fence off equipment or inventory. These fences are usually 8 to 10 feet high. Lower chain link fences, in the 4 to 6 foot range, are used to define residential lots.

Chain link is very versatile. It’s used to pen animals, form baseball fields; surround swimming pools, tennis courts, and parking lots. You’ll need about the same equipment as for wire mesh fencing. For work inside industrial buildings you'll need some concrete drilling equipment, since most warehouse floors are poured concrete. Your truck should have a rack for carrying 2O-foot sections of pipe. Cost of equipment will be about $15,000.

Wood Fences

Here is where style takes over. There are about as many types of wood fences as there are sizes of lumber. The equipment is similar for all kinds of wood fences. You’ll need:

  • a truck, 1/2,ton, 8'-footbed or larger
  • gas-powered post hole digger
  • power saws and hand saws
  • electrical generator for working in isolated areas
  • assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches
  • string line and batten
  • shovel, axe, pick, hoe, and manual post hole digger
  • hammers, claw and sledge
  • drill and bits
  • transit (optional)
  • levels, 6 foot and 2 foot
  • gas-powered cement mixer
  • wheelbarrow
  • assortment of woodworking chisels

Once again, your cost for equipment is about $15,000. You can build these fences from scratch, or buy and install prefab fencing. You'll usually buy materials, but on some rural jobs you might use timber cut on the site. For this type of work you'll need a chain saw, log splitter, and possibly a bulldozer. The chain saw and log splitter will cost about $1,500. You can rent the dozer.

Constructed Metal Fences

These fences include those made from ornamental iron or pipe. Ornamental iron is very popular with homeowners, and most of this work will be residential. Figure 1-6 shows some typical ornamental iron fencing.

Metal security fences and gates are common in commercial buildings. Pipe fences usually restrain animals, horses and cattle. They're also used as safety railings where there's danger of people falling: balconies and scenic lookouts along highways. A third type of metal fencing is highway guardrail.

What do you need in the way of equipment and tools?

  • a truck, 1 ton or better
  • a gas or gas-powered electric welder and tips
  • gas-powered post hole digger
  • metal cutting saws
  • drills for wood, concrete, and metal
  • gas-powered cement mixer
  • assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches
  • hammer and mallet
  • shovel, pick, hoe, and manual hole digger
  • transit (optional)
  • string line
  • levels, 2 foot and 6 foot
  • metal grinder or drill attachment
  • paint and brushes for touch-up

Equipment and tools will cost about $20,000. If you're doing highway work, you may also need a bulldozer.

Plastic and Glass Fences

These are usually combined with one of the other types of fences. For instance, Figure 1-7 shows fiberglass panels installed on top of a block wall. This offers extra privacy without blocking so much sunlight. Clear plastic and glass fences are windscreens used to surround patios and swimming pools without reducing the view. Many homes built on high ground use glass or plastic fences.

Indoor plastic screens are common in banks and savings offices. One- to 2-inch-thick clear Plexiglas is designed to be bulletproof and is used to screen teller booths. These screens are very expensive. Bulletproof glass is usually sold by the square inch. You'll need a good supplier of shatterproof glass, Plexiglas, or Lexan. Lexan is a highly shatterproof polycarbonate material. Many stores now use it for their display windows. It’s also used for windows on boats because of its high resistance to wind and waves.

Besides the basic equipment kit for wood or block walls, you'll need the following:

  • glass cutters
  • saber saw to cut plastic sheet
  • a torch to fire-edge the plastic
  • hacksaw to cut aluminum channel
  • metal, glass and wood drills and bits
  • vertical rack in truck for carrying sheets of material
  • cleaners for removing adhesive paper and glue
  • suction cup glass transporters
  • These items will cost you about $350.

Fire-edging removes burrs and rounds the cut edges of plastics. You use a low heat torch to just slightly soften the plastic. Fire-edging helps prevent cracking. You should also fire the edges of all mounting holes you drill.

Glass and plastic screen is usually mounted in aluminum channel. Use either a rubber gasket or caulking, or use epoxy to hold the material in the channels.

Siding and Stucco

You can use any kind of siding material to build fences: aluminum, steel, vinyl or stucco. First you build a conventional wall frame from 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 lumber. Then you use the siding material as a facing. The equipment and tools you need are basic saws, drills, and hand tools.

Landscape Fencing

You can use trees and other plants, or combine these with most other types of walls and fences, to form barriers. You have to know what plants work best in your climate. A trip to a local nursery, or the library, will help here. Cost for tools and equipment is usually very low.

Later chapters cover each of these fence and wall specialties in detail. For now I'll cover things that are common to all types of fence and wall construction.

Retaining Walls

These walls are used to keep soil or falling rock from intruding on occupied area. They're also built to reduce wind and noise in some places. Many retaining walls are built under government contracts. If you plan to bid on public works jobs, you'll probably find plenty of retaining wall work available in your area.

Equipment needed to build retaining walls tend to be more expensive. You don't need many hand tools, but for most work you'll probably need a bulldozer and a dump truck. The investment would probably be more than $150,000. You're generally better off renting these unless you intend to specialize in this type of work.

In most cities and counties, retaining walls have to be approved by the building department. The inspector wants to be sure the wall is strong enough to support the load. Except for small retaining walls, the building department isn't going to determine what's safe and what isn't. Instead, they rely on the opinion of the civil engineer you hire to prepare the plans. The engineer's stamp on the plans certifies that the wall meets accepted engineering standards. That's important. Dirt's cheap. But lives aren't. You can't afford to have your wall collapse.

Once the wall is finished, the slope above the wall should be landscaped to help hold the soil in place. You should be ready to suggest landscaping materials that will hold your manmade hills together.

Sea Walls

If you're near the ocean, a lake or river, you'll probably have the opportunity to bid on these walls intended to prevent damage from rising water. Sea walls are made from rock, dirt, cement, wood piles, sheet metal, asphalt, or old tires. Figure your minimum startup costs at 20,000.

Every Job Begins With a Sale

There won't be much work to do until you start selling jobs. Selling is an all important part of the business. Consider two questions: Can you afford to hire a full-time sales person? If not, can you afford to spend time selling jobs rather than building or supervising a crew?

My advice is to let the builders build and the salespeople sell. Unless you've got a special talent for making sales, find someone who likes meeting the public and knows (or is willing to learn) something about fence building and retaining walls. Many people can learn to be good salespeople and enjoy selling. Favor someone who can make a sketch of what they’re trying to sell. Some training in drafting or architecture is an advantage.

Your salesperson (or salespeople) should work on commission, earning more when they close more jobs. Commissions range from 5 to 15 percent of the contract price, often with a weekly draw. In Chapter 14, I suggest sales techniques that can keep your company busy and prosperous.

Fence Maintenance Contracting

This is a good starter or add-on business. As a starter business, it’s a way to get established while you learn the ins and outs of the fence contracting business. You need to be a good handyman, proficient in the use of hand tools.

Some fence maintenance contractors offer fence maintenance contracts to customers with existing fences and walls. You offer to come by on a regular basis to inspect and repair any minor damage. You’ll oil hinges, tighten screws and bolts, and renail loose boards. You can also offer limited emergency service. You’d do this on a per-call basis when severe damage has occurred. This could be necessary after a wind storm, or when someone has run their car through a fence. Your service would include periodic painting or waterproofing on customers’ fences.

Your startup cost for this type of service is small: a few basic hand tools, a small inventory of materials, and a pickup truck or van. Who do you sell to? Mostly business and local governments, buy many homeowners will also hire you. They either can’t or don’t want to bother doing it themselves. There is a market for this. I took hundreds of pictures of fences for this book. Close to 90 percent of those fences needed repair. Start by looking for work in older neighborhoods.

On fence repair jobs, I recommend that you charge by the hour and add the cost of materials. Charging a fixed fee for this kind of work is usually a mistake. You’ll often find hidden damage. Chapter 9 has more information on fence repairs and maintenance.

Design and Architecture

Anyone who’s making a living in the fence business should see the difference between a fence that adds beauty to a home or neighborhood and a fence that’s an eyesore. In many cases, you’re going to be the designer, the person who recommends the fence material and design. I’ve seen too many fences and walls that just didn’t complement the property. Don’t make that mistake.

I’ve seen many others that fell apart way too soon due to poor design. The designer didn’t consider how the fence would be used and problems that came with the site. Don’t make that mistake either. The chapters that follow will help you select designs and materials to make an attractive, well-engineered walls and fences.

Drafting and Layout

When you prepare plans for a fence or wall, your focus should be on technical accuracy. You have to take the ideas and sketches of the designer and turn them into working blueprints that show in detail how all parts fit together. A year or two of drafting experience and familiarity with fence building are essential.

Fence Rentals

Fence rental is good business in areas where many commercial or industrial buildings are under construction. Construction contractors rent fences to protect their equipment and tools on a job site. Insurance companies and local governments like fenced construction sites because fencing helps keep kids off the site at night and on weekends.

Farmers and ranchers use temporary fence to hold livestock during roundup. Businesses use it when they have to secure inventory outside temporarily.

Most rental fences are chain link. You install them the same way you do permanent chain link fences, but you usually don’t cement the posts into the ground. If you cement them in, you’re going to have a lot of fun when it’s time to return the fence to the rental yard.

Here’s how to charge for rental fencing:

  1. Charge from a third to a seventh of your cost for the materials - the mesh, posts, and gates. This is based on the expectation that you can rent the same materials at least seven times, and perhaps as many as 20 times.
  2. Charge your regular rate for delivery and installation. Add a charge for removal.

In the Los Angeles area, at the time of this writing, temporary fences rent for from $250 to $450 for 100 linear feet of 6-foot-high fence with one gate. The variation in price depends on soil conditions and how level the site is. Some companies charge the same whether you rent the fence for a week or a year.

If this sideline interests you, check with some of your local competitors for prices. Use them as a guide to see whether you can make money renting fences.

Fence-Building Equipment Rentals

If you're in the fence building business, consider renting your unused equipment. Other contractors, subcontractors, and property owners may need a good source of specialized equipment. Require a deposit, good identification, and a rental contract from your customers. In some states your customers will need special operator licenses to use heavy equipment such as backhoes or bulldozers.

Here are some examples of the equipment that's usually in demand:

  • backhoe
  • bulldozer
  • power post hole diggers
  • outdoor heaters
  • cement mixers
  • trucks
  • tractors
  • stretchers
  • electrical generators
  • airless sprayers
  • power washers
  • specialized small hand and powertools

The daily rental rate for most smaller pieces of equipment is usually about 5 percent of the purchase price. That means you can recover the purchase price once equipment is rented about 20 times. But some equipment may only rent out a few times a year: So it may take several years to earn a decent payback. Some operators of rental businesses give discounts for weekly and monthly rental terms. For example, a cable puller may rent for $15 for one day, $45 for a week and only $90 for a month.

Insurance will be very important if you rent fence building equipment. You should be protected from loss due to equipment damage, liability, and theft. To be competitive in this business, you'll probably need to invest several hundred thousand dollars in equipment. After the initial payback, you'll keep from 40 to 60 percent of each rental dollar after expenses. It's a good business if you can afford to get into it.

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