Building a fence: Is cost a barrier?

A fence can add security, privacy and style to your home. If you’re considering adding one to your property, but are still sitting on the fence, our guide to how much you could expect to pay may be useful in helping you to decide.

How much does a fence cost?

The cost of putting up a fence in Australia will vary depending on a range of factors, including:

  • The material used to make the fence
  • The height of the fence
  • The length of the fence
  • The soil type it’s being built on
  • Land terrain, for example if the land is flat, sloping or uneven 
  • The fence’s foundations
  • Whether you need to remove an old fence
  • Whether you need gates installed
  • Whether your fence needs to be stained or painted 

According to tradie listings website hipages, professional fence installation is typically charged by the metre and could cost between $60 and $1,200 per metre. Overall, ServiceSeeking.com.au estimates the average price of a fence to be around $2,500 to $3,000. 

What are the options to finance your new fence?

How the job is financed may depend on how much it costs. There are several options available for the home renovator to consider, including:

Personal loan: Depending on your personal circumstances and the cost of the job, you may be able to consider using a personal loan to fund the work. This could be a secured loan, or an unsecured loan. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that interest rates are generally higher for personal loans than for home loans, and it’s a good idea to read the lender’s terms and conditions first. Compare personal loans with Canstar.

Credit card: It may also be possible, depending on the cost and your ability to repay the debt quickly, to pay for the job on a credit card. There could be some fringe benefits for doing so, such as extra insurance cover in some cases (read the card’s Product Disclosure Statement to find out the conditions of the cover). Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are typically much higher than home or personal loans, and interest can quickly accumulate on large balances, so it is a good idea to weigh up your options and consider them carefully. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the card’s balance in full each month, it may be worth re-considering whether a credit card is the right option for you. Compare credit cards with Canstar.

→ Renovating a home could change what insurance cover you may need. Compare home and contents insurance providers.

Tips to help you save money on your fence

1. DIY

You may be able to save some cash by constructing the fence yourself rather than paying a professional to do it. However, this may not be appropriate (or easy to do) in some circumstances. For example, it may be particularly difficult to install a fence on a sloping rather than level surface. If going down the DIY route, you’ll also need to consider any machinery hire costs if you don’t have the equipment yourself, as well as fencing regulations that may apply in your area (more on this below). 

If building a timber fence, you may be able to save money by staining or painting the fence yourself. You can often pick up fence stains and paint fairly cheaply from your local DIY or hardware store. 

Cost of picket fence
Source: Shuang Li (Shutterstock)

2. Remove the old fence yourself 

If you’re replacing an old fence and you decide to enlist the help of a professional fence installer, Kerrie Myers, Manager of Northern Suburbs Fencing, says you may be able to cut down costs by making a head start on some of the work yourself. 

“The best thing that clients can do to save money is to pull down the old fence themselves,” Mrs Myers told Canstar. “In Queensland, it’s currently quite expensive [for businesses] to pull down an old fence and get rid of it because of the State Government’s waste levy.”

In Queensland, the levy rate is currently $75 per tonne for general waste. This is paid by the landfill operator and passed onto the waste disposers, but the levy has been designed to minimise any direct impact on households according to the Queensland Government. Similar waste levies are also in place in most other states and territories. 

3. Prepare the fence site 

Site preparation is another way of reducing costs. “If you can arrange for nice, clear access for the installers, it’s so much easier and will be much cheaper,” Mrs Myers said.

Cost of different types of fences

One of the main factors that can impact the cost of a fence is the type of material you choose. For example, Mrs Myers says that timber will generally be cheaper than glass or slat fencing. 

Here’s a guide to the typical costs of some common fencing materials and styles (including labour and installation):

Cost of a picket fence

A picket fence is one of the most classic types of household fences. They are best known for their evenly spaced boards (or pickets) and are traditionally painted white. According to hipages, you can expect to pay between $50 to $65 per metre to install PVC picket fencing. Alternatively, picket fences can be built using timber which may be more expensive (see below). 

Cost of a timber fence 

Timber Fence
Source: Jen Petrie (Shutterstock)

A timber fence is another popular and affordable option. hipages says it costs approximately $75 to $120 per metre for treated pine paling fencing, $80 to $125 per metre for hardwood paling fencing, and $280 to $350 per metre for treated pine timber slat fencing. However, you may also need to factor in the cost of staining or painting the timber.  

Cost of a Colorbond fence

Colorbond steel fencing is another common option due to its durability, price point and the fact that it’s fairly easy to maintain. According to hipages, Colorbond fencing normally costs approximately $65 to $100 per metre, but the exact cost may vary depending on where you live. 

Cost of a glass fence 

Cost of glass fence
Source: JR-stock (Shutterstock)

Typically used for pool fencing, a glass fence can add a contemporary and open look to your home. Generally, you can choose between frameless glass or semi-frameless glass. According to hipages, the average cost of installing semi-frameless glass fencing (which is framed around the perimeter) is $200 to $275 per linear metre. Frameless glass fencing tends to be thicker than semi-frameless glass so it can be a bit more expensive, at about $275 to $600 per linear metre. 

Cost of a brick fence or wall 

Brick fences are known for their strength and stability. They are often made using a combination of materials – for example, a brick wall with wrought iron fencing. For a standard brick fence however, hipages says this will cost between $550 and $800 per metre. 

Cost of a wrought iron fence 

Cost of wrought iron fence
Source: GagoDesign (Shutterstock)

If you’re looking to install a more traditional and potentially more decorative fence, wrought iron is another common material option. This costs about $450 to $600 per metre, according to hipages. 

What are your responsibilities when building a fence? 

When installing a fence, you’ll also need to be aware of any fencing regulations that apply in your state, territory or local council. For example, you may need a permit before you can build a fence over a certain height. 

If you’re thinking of building a dividing or boundary fence between your property and your neighbour’s property, it’s a good idea to talk to your neighbour first and obtain a couple of quotes. Generally, both you and your neighbour will need to equally share the cost of building and maintaining a dividing fence. However, it’s a good idea to read up on the local laws that apply to you.  

What are the requirements for pool fences?

It’s particularly important to ensure you meet pool fencing requirements. Each state and territory has different minimum safety requirements for pool fences in place to prevent children from drowning. 

Pool fence
Source: kurhan (Shutterstock)

For example, the Australian Standard AS1926-2012 applies in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australian and the ACT. This specifies requirements such as:

  • The fence must be at least 1.2 metres high all the way around 
  • The gap between the ground and the bottom of the fence must be no bigger than 100mm
  • The gap between the panels or bars of the fence must be no bigger than 100mm
  • The gate must open outwards away from the pool area and must be self-closing or self-latching 
  • There must be no climbable objects near the pool fence, like trees or furniture 

Pool fencing regulations do differ by state and local government area, so it’s important to talk to your fence builder and/or your local government before installing a pool fence to ensure you’re meeting the relevant legal requirements. 

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Cover image source: Artazum (Shutterstock)

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