Outdoor spaces are one of the hottest remodeling trends for 2021, but designing full-scale outdoor living rooms may be out of scope for many companies. However, there is still an opening for home improvement professionals to get in on this gold rush: fence installation.
“Given the increased focus on outdoor living, now is an ideal time for building professionals to add fencing to their service offerings if they haven’t already,” says Mike Sims, senior vice president of corporate marketing and business development at LP Building Solutions, a manufacturer of fencing products. “LP believes there are several reasons for the increased investment in fencing. Most notable is the increased focus on the importance of the home as a haven.”
Sims says that profit margins vary based on the type of installation professional and whether a company is a small fence contractor or a large regional or national fencing company. “We’ve heard that a good rule of thumb to use to better understand costs and margins is that on average, fencing contractors take the total material cost times 1.75 to 2.00 to land at the estimated install cost,” Sims says. “The 1.75 to 2.00 multiplier is equivalent to a 43% to 50% margin.”
Fencing repair and installation: A trend within a trend
According to the Home Innovation Research Labs consumer practices survey findings, fencing’s big moment is part of a larger trend. From 2019 to 2020, there was an overall 21% increase in households undertaking home improvement and repair projects to their outdoor living structures, which includes decking, porches, and fences. This tier of upgrades actually beat out other popular home exterior projects such as windows (14% increase) and siding (15% increase). Ed Hudson, director of market research for the Home Innovation Research Labs, predicts that the outdoor project trend will continue through 2021 due to pent-up demand from homeowners waiting for lower material prices.
There is an incredible rise in consumer interest for home improvement projects across the country
“Fences have been a very popular way to enhance outdoor living during the pandemic,” Hudson said. Based on Home Innovation Research Labs survey data, most fences installed in existing homes are vertical wood boards, followed by chain-link fences, and PVC and plastic fences–the latter of which, Hudson expects to increase its market share due to skyrocketing lumber prices.
But if fencing is lumped together with other features such as decks and porches, how can someone tell if fences themselves are trending? Houzz, the online home remodeling platform, actually parsed out the data and found that there was a 166% increase in fence installation and repair last year based on survey results.
“There is an incredible rise in consumer interest for home improvement projects across the country, and people are coming to Houzz to find professionals for major projects like new swimming pools and decks, as well as for more modest outdoor improvements like tree planting and fencing,” says Liza Hausman, Houzz’s vice president of industry marketing. Houzz notes that fences, in particular, seem to be in vogue due to the overall trend toward privacy and security.
A low-contact installation
Though the vaccine is rolling out, projects with limited contact are still great opportunities for contractors to keep their team’s exposure to the virus low and provide homeowners options that match their comfort levels. “During the pandemic, homeowners have been more inclined to invest in home projects that require no or minimal in-person contact with contractors or other installation professionals,” says Sims. “There are methods that don’t require face-to-face contact for ordering and receiving fencing products through home improvement stores, and installation by contractors or other certified professionals can be done without face-to-face communication.”
If a company is interested in adding fencing to their service portfolio, Sims says to remember to call 811 before digging to ensure that the installation is in the safest spot on the property.