What are my options with sinking fence posts?

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Posted by: from Windsor
5/29/2014 at 12:56:03 PM

I had a deck and small privacy fence built from the rear wall of my unit out 14'. I should mention it is a new construction. The fence required 3 posts, of which the middle post sank approximately 1'. The contractor as well as the City Inspector agree that settling is common in new builds and that the posts would have been needed to be dug down to virgin soil or a depth of 8'.

The fence installer expects us to pay for the new materials, labour etc. to repair the fence. While my wife and I were at work, he dropped by our unit and proceded to cut the end 2 posts which had not sunk, to the same height as the middle post. This has resulted in a lower fence and less than appealing workmanship resulting from reattached boards etc.

The project was not cheap to begin with and now there is still no guarantee that the fence will not settle further, as the issue has not been fixed. I am very frustrated and can not afford to pay out additional money to put up a new fence.

What are my options? Can any one help us with our dilema?


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Date/Time5/29/2014 at 2:26:12 PM

I have never ever heard of a fence post settling to that extent. Where are you located? I would question how many bags of concrete were used per post and how far down in the ground the posts were set. Why didn't they add a PC to the sunken post? That could have been accomplished by drilling out the Center of both pcs and inserting a long PC of threaded rod in between them and using PL premium to adhere it all together!

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Date/Time5/29/2014 at 2:33:04 PM

I had a long detailed post telling you how to fix this, but this response widget has a character limit so I wasn't able to finish it.



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Daryl in Windsor
Date/Time5/29/2014 at 2:44:05 PM

@ Blair - I live in WIndsor, ON and I believe the composition of the ground is clay.

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Date/Time5/30/2014 at 6:44:15 PM

How were the posts set? Did they even use cement or just dig a hole and put the post in?

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Date/Time6/1/2014 at 10:29:25 PM

I have never heard of an 8 foot deep hole for a post! While I agree that there may be some settling, what you are experiencing is an example of poor workman ship.

This is my logic: if BOTH the contractor and the Inspector are saying that there should be 8 feet of cement then clearly the Contractor did not do the job right (in other words: the Contractor talked himself into a corner). While I doubt the Contractor will put the 8 foot thing in writing, the Inspector is more likely to. Get some documentation. Then, have another Contractor pull the middle post out (or even all three; most post hole digging companies can do this) and measure how much cement is attached to the post (both length and diameter - then you can calculate how many bags of cement were used especially if the cement is not . . . 8 feet long!). Once you have determined that the posts were not correctly installed, you can demand that the Contractor repair/replace the entire fence at his cost or you will file a claim in Small Claims Court.

I would also suggest that since he came onto your property (allegedly to "repair" the defect but only made things worse), that you call him and let him know that unless and until he contacts you directly to make the necessary repairs/replacements to your satisfaction, that he is not to be on your property at all. Follow this up with a registered letter.

As a minimum standard for us, we always dig holes 4 feet deep and 12 inches in diameter and set the posts into the concrete. Just last week we finished a 40 foot long fence. The customer had built the original fence several years ago but only sank the posts to a depth of 24 to 30 inches. I was able to actually lift several posts out by myself and the other ones that needed a mechanical jack came out very easily. I told the customer how deep and wide the new holes will be and that his grandchildren will probably be retired before the posts moved!

Anyway, be sure to keep us updated as this situation unfolds.


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