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Mastering the Art of Silt Fences in Construction

Jun 5, 2023 | Blog

 As you roll up your sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty in the construction world, there are many things you have to consider. Blueprints, building materials, manpower, timelines – the list goes on. But have you ever stopped to think about the unassuming silt fence? Probably not. Today, let’s change that. Let’s become…masters of the silt fence.

First things first, what exactly is a silt fence? It’s simply a temporary, permeable barrier made of synthetic fabric, or geotextile, and supported by wooden or metal posts. Its main job is to prevent sediment, i.e., loose soil or silt, from washing off a construction site and into nearby water bodies, storm drains, or surrounding property. The fence acts like a filter, letting water through but trapping the silt. This makes it an essential tool in erosion control and water pollution prevention.

Now, when would you need a silt fence? Well, think of it like an extra insurance policy for your site. Anytime you’re dealing with disturbed soil – like when you’re excavating, grading, or moving earth around – a silt fence becomes your best friend. It’s particularly important for sites that are near bodies of water, where soil runoff can do the most harm.

In most regions, you’re legally required to have a silt fence if your site fits certain criteria, like disturbing a certain amount of soil or being within a certain distance of a water body. These regulations, which can carry heavy fines if not followed, come from environmental protection agencies. They’re not just good for the planet, though. They can also save you headaches down the line by preventing soil loss, which could undermine your construction foundations, and by avoiding disputes with neighbors over muddy runoff messing up their property.

So, how does a silt fence factor into your job bids? This is where it gets tricky. The cost of a silt fence is made up of the materials (the fabric and the posts), the labor to install it, and the time and materials to maintain it. For a typical residential construction site, you might be looking at a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

The problem is, you can’t just put down a flat rate in your bid because the cost can vary widely. The size of your site, the terrain, the amount of rainfall the area gets, the local regulations, and the length of time the fence needs to stay up can all affect the cost. And don’t forget about unexpected maintenance. If a big storm rolls in and damages your fence, you’ll need to fix it fast.

The best way to handle this in your bids is to do your homework. Research the local regulations and site conditions. Consult with suppliers to get an idea of material costs. And when you’re putting together your bid, include a line item for silt fence installation and maintenance. That way, you can give your client a realistic estimate without having to eat the cost if things go sideways. Make sure you include contingencies in your bids to account for silt fence repair or anything else that might go wrong!

All in all, silt fences might not be the flashiest part of your job, but they’re an important one. They help keep your site safe, protect the environment, and keep you on the right side of the law. And as long as you account for them properly in your bids, they don’t have to be a financial headache either. So next time you’re looking over your site, give a nod to the humble silt fence. It’s doing more work than you think.

And that’s the scoop on silt fences! Just remember – in construction, every detail matters, and that includes even the smallest silt particle.

ProfitDig makes it easy to account for silt fences and every other part of a construction job. You can clone existing bids to bid on similar jobs or to use as a template. ProfitDig also automatically reminds you to check materials prices regularly so you don’t get burned by rising costs. Click here to try it today!