Design Build: The Simple Solution for a Complicated Fence Project

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Design Build project is  when the traditional “bid” step of design-bid-build format is circumvented by entrusting the task a subcontractor to design and build the project. Depending on the circumstances, the cost incurred by hiring an architect or additional engineer is eliminated alongside the middle man. 

A professional commercial or industrial fence contractor that has proven experience with design build, will be able to both design and price your enclosure solution based on specifications.

As a side note, smaller more intimate level, almost all residential customers can be considered the "owner" and the subcontractor designs and builds the fence based their needs.


Buyers & Builders

For example, VDOT and military specifications are exceptionally strict.
The fence company involved should have a working knowledge of how the requirements affect the job. Design–build places the responsibility for design errors and omissions on the design–builder, relieving the owner of legal and managerial responsibilities. The burden for these costs and associated risks are transferred to the design–build team.

ASTM specifications play a very large part these types of projects because very rarely is the specification drawn out on the plans. They often require a vast array of specifications that its typically in the best interest of the property construction team to hire a professional.

This simplifies the work of the buyer and streamlines the construction process.

Often, commercial construction managers and the property owner, will collaborate in order to organize the needs of the customer by fielding the information to selected design/build subcontractors.

This is especially true when the fence job must involve several trades to work together. Without the right experience and resources, a new fence company might miss specifications and codes needed for that particular job.

Depending on whether the project is commercial, military, or federal, the requirements can vary greatly and affect cost structure.

Above is Pitt Field at University of Richmond. This projects required several additional designs including windscreen, an upgrade to industrial aluminum fencing and galvanized chain link fence that meets athletic field specs.

Accounting for Accountability

By relieving the buyer or property owner of the building responsibility, an experienced design build team allows greater productivity with fewer costs. It gives the builder teams the ability to install their work using their knowledge and resources. As a result, the quality of work of the project will improve.

While the buyer is still responsible for communicating his or her needs and desires with the project, the builder must be highly competent to understand appropriate requirements and restrictions. By creating the direct connection between the builder and the subcontractors, the buyer is able to focus their efforts on the overall outcome.

Design–build can save time and money for the owner, while allowing a chance to achieve innovation on the project. Design–build allows owners to avoid being placed directly between the architect/engineer and the contractor which under design–bid–build process, the owner takes on more legal risks in that position. The design build process has been used for centuries to increase productivity and reduce cost, but it is only recently making a significant comeback in the construction industry. Design build is becoming more common in the United States and abroad, giving fence companies a larger role in this process.


Topics: Government Fence, Fence Design, High Security Fence, Prison Fence

Galvanized versus Vinyl Chain Link Fence: Is there a difference?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Tue, Oct 01, 2013


Chain link fence is one of the most popular types of fence used in today’s market. This particular fence material is very flexible and ease of installation is a definite chainlink strong point in a variety of applications. A project where the proposed fenced terrain is not flat is an instance where chainlink is the perfect solution. This popularity stems in part from chain link’s relatively inexpensive price.

Chain link is also ideal for projects that will cross long stretches of terrain that do not require any beautification, like the rear perimeter of military bases or any large government installation.

left: 4 ft. standard galvanized steel residential chain link fence


chainlink vinyl fence

above: 4 ft. black galvanized chain link fence ideal for a large residential landscape.

Chain link fence comes in a range of heights that make it suitable for a variety of applications. The shorter heights are commonly used in residential settings to reduce view obstructions. Taller fences are most often selected for commercial use because of the increased level of security that more height can offer. 

The only difference between galvanized and vinyl coated chain link is that a vinyl coating is sealed around the metal. The metal under the vinyl chain link is actually already galvanized then the vinyl is placed around it. This makes it pretty easy to determine which one is better equipped to handle weathering over time. That would, of course, be the coated material.

Standard galvanized chain link will begin to rust over time.range of heights that make it suitable for a variety of applications. The shorter heights are commonly used in residential settings to reduce view obstructions. These sizes are usually 48' chain link or 4 feet chain link.

Taller fences are most often selected for commercial use because of the increased level of security that more height can offer. The heights for these fences are 6 foot chain link and they go up to 8 feet high chain link.

Galvanized and coated fence materials are similar in terms of their sturdiness and longevity. Galvanized chain link usually carries a 10 to 15 year warranty against rust and corrosion. The fence is virtually maintenance free. It does not require painting and meets ASTM specification 392 and federal specification R.R.F.-191.

Black vinyl chain link usually carries a ten to fifteen year manufacturer warranty against chipping peeling and fading. And, it is also maintenance free.

Chain link fence fabrics are also available in different gauges. The fence gauge is the measure of the diameter of the actual woven fabric metal. These sizes can vary widely, but 9 and 11½ gauges are the markets most common. The higher the gauge number the less thick the metal is, therefore the smaller 11½ gauge is used for residential fences where the family children or pets are the concern. A more durable 9-gauge material is used when a higher level of security is needed. This is more often the case for commercial or business applications and prison fence jobs.

The main difference between coated or uncoated galvanized chain link is the final appearance of the fence. One of the major advantages of any chain link fence is its somewhat transparent design. But it does not completely disappear to the eye. 

7 + 1 ft. Chain Link with Barb Wire and Windscreen

6 ft. galvanized chain link fence with 3 strands of barb wire and windscreen at a government facility.


So, the consumer must think about how they want their final project to look. Galvanized fence tends to leave a more rough or “industrial” appearance. While vinyl presents an overall cleaner appearance and may even blend into the surroundings depending on the coating color.

This may be the main reason why many higher end projects lean toward the coated material. This will, of course, affect the final cost of the fence. The vinyl-coated material can increase the cost about $1.50 per foot on a 6-foot high fence. The final decision can really boil down to whether the purchaser wants a more polished look or a less expensive fence.


Topics: Fence Design, Residential Fence Choices, Commercial Fence, Fence, Prison Fence

Top Commercial Fence Uses For Barbed Wire and Razor Wire

Posted by Dawn Lowndes on Wed, Jun 15, 2011

  The most common use Barbed and Razor Wire in the USA is area security.

Barbed Wire and Its Uses.

Barbed wire is a type of fencing wire that is constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand(s). It is used to construct inexpensive fences, or added to the top of an existing fence, as an added measure of security. 

A person or animal trying to pass through a barbed-wire fence  will suffer discomfort and possibly injury. Barbed-wire fencing requires only fence posts, wire and fixing devices such as staples. It is simple to construct and quick to erect by a skilled fence crew. One of the biggest commercial uses for Barbed Wire is for enclosed cattle fencestar picket in most regions of the US. The wire is aligned under tension between braced heavy fence posts.  It is held at the correct height by being attached to wooden posts and battens, or steel star posts.  The length of the gaps between star posts can vary depending on terrain.  On short fences, in hilly country, they can be placed as closely as every 8 feet.  However, over flat land the posts can be spaced much further apart. 

Most barbed-wire fences, while sufficient to discourage cattle, are easily passable by humans. They can simply climb over, or go through the fence by stretching the gaps between the wires, and using non-barbed sections of the wire as handholds. To prevent humans crossing, installers will construct fences with barbed wire added to the top. This method is sufficient to thoroughly impede egress or injure anyone who attempts to climb over it.

Razor Wire and Its Uses.

Razor wire is a mesh of metal strips with sharp edges, which helps to prevent passage by human beings.  The shape of the barbs also characterizes razor wire. 

Generally accepted barb definition:

  • short barb razor wire has barbs from 10 mm to 15 mm long
  • medium barb razor wire has barbs 20 mm to 25 mm long
  • long barb razor wire has barbs from 60 to 66 mm long.

Although there is little research to indicate whether longer barbs are actually more effective in resisting penetration, they certainly provide a stronger psycholigical deterent.

Razor wire barbs are sharper than the barbs of barbed wire. The razorbarb razor barbterm "razor wire" is a slang term derived from a manufacturer's brand name. It is not actually razor sharp, but the sharp edges of the wire can cause serious cuts in any person attempting to pass through quickly.

In high security applications, razor wire can be used to supplement barbed wire, which could be circumvented relatively quickly by humans without tools. Getting past razor wire without tools is considerably slower, giving security forces much more time in which to respond.

Starting in the late 1960's, razor wire was typically found in prisons and long-term  mental hospital, where the increased breaching time for a poorly equipped potential escapee was a definite advantage. Until the development of reinforced razor wire in the early 1980's, it was rarely used for military purposes or genuine high security facilities because it was actually easier to breach with the correct tools. Since then, however, some military forces have also replaced barbed wire with razor wire for many applications, mainly because it is slightly lighter for the same effective coverage.

Both items are almost always used in a commercial environment, as residential usage of both barbed and many have criticized razor wire. The aggressive appearance of the barbs is thought to detract from the appearance, and land value, of a neighborhood.


Article contributed by fence professional Chuck Billmyer

Topics: Perimeter Security, Commercial Fence, Maximum Security Fence, Prison Fence

What Are The Uses of Barbed Tape or Razor Wire Fence?

Posted by Dawn Lowndes on Mon, Jan 17, 2011

razor wire

 barbed tape











Barbed tape, also known as Razor Wire, is a mesh of metal strips or steel tape that is punched in various patterns to form barbs or blades that are much sharper than standard barbed wire. The tape is compressed around a single strand of high tensile wire. Razor wire is manufactured in various sizes, shapes and designs to with the sole intent of inflicting serious cuts to anyone attempting to climb through or over it. It is a great deterrent to would be escape or property egress as well as unwelcomed entry. The manufacture materials used are plain, galvanized and stainless steel.  The stainless variety prevents the barbs from rusting to an eventually ineffective bluntness. Typically the core wire is made of galvanized steel and the tape uses stainless. However, stainless over stainless is an offered alternative for permanent or long-term installations.

At one time barbed tape was primarily found in high security prisons and long-term stay mental hospitals. With the development of reinforced barbed tape in the 1980's the military began using it in their facilities in place of then typical barbed wire. Barbed tape takes up little space as compared to barbed wire, and it is fairly easy to install. It is a great entry deterrent and simply offers more reliable security. Barbed tape is currently being used more and more in commercial and light industrial applications. It is now being utilized as a deterrent to vandalism and burglaries.

  • Installing can be as simple as adding a single coil to the top of an existing fence or wall for added security at a commercial property.
  • lt can be installed in multiple rolls on existing fence tops, vertically or bottoms for maximum security facilities.
  • Barbed tape can be used alone by stretching it along the ground or stacked in pyramids for a quick perimeter security.

Barbed tape has been used on a wide variety of facilities. The list includes light to maximum-security prisons, mental hospitals, military facilities, oil refineries, airports, utility companies, nuclear power plants, fuel storage depots, piers, warehouses and commercial properties. Barbed tape is widely used by homeland security and law enforcement for our border protection and other law enforcement activities.

Article contributed by fence professional Terry Lewis.

Topics: Military Fence Installations, Perimeter Security, Maximum Security Fence, Prison Fence

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