Everything You Need to Know About Fence Building Permits

A fence permit is an approval from the local government for a property owner to install a fence on their property. Fence permit requirements vary with every city or county.

If your fence is within the length limits specified by the local administration, you don’t need a permit. Other fence details, like the design, materials, and location, also influence the need for a fence permit.

Fence Building Regulations

Fence Building Regulations

Fence building regulations dictate how fences should be installed and maintained. The rules and guidelines ensure fences meet an area’s safety, aesthetic, and zoning standards. The local fencing regulations mainly apply to urban and densely populated cities.

If you live in a rural location, it’s likely that you won’t need a permit to build a fence. But it’s best to check with your local building department before the installation. You can also visit the official county government website for building regulations.

Factors That Determine Whether You Need a Permit

Fence Height

Fence building regulations restrict the maximum height allowed for front and backyard fences. In most residential locations, front yard fences should not exceed 4 feet in height. The maximum height for backyard fences is usually 6 feet tall.

If you plan on building a privacy fence exceeding these heights, you’ll need a permit from the local building department.

Location of the Fence

The fence’s location from sidewalks, roads, or neighboring properties may also prompt the need for a permit. As a rule of thumb, fences should be within a property and not on the property line.

City planners issue setback requirements in the permits, which ensures proper fence placement and prevents encroachment. The front setback may range between 10-20 feet for properties facing a front street or a highway.

Materials to Build the Fence

The fence material and type determine whether you need a fence permit. For instance, wood fences taller than 7 feet in Portland and chain-link fences taller than 8 feet need a building permit. Likewise, you’ll need a permit for a masonry fence taller than 4 feet.

Certain areas also have restrictions on the types of materials and fence designs that are permissible. In residential areas, they might limit barbed wire or electric fences. But, in industrial zones, security fences are allowed.

Purpose of the Fence

Fence permits apply to privacy fences, security fences, and screening. In most states, pool barriers and fences must be at least 4 feet tall and should surround the pool. Homeowners can also use a house wall as part of the fence if it doesn’t give access to the pool.

Exemptions to Fencing Permit Requirements

Low pickets and decorative fences that separate your garden from the house are exempt from permits. Some states may not require permits for temporary fences, such as construction site barriers or event fencing.

A fence below a certain height (typically 6 feet) doesn’t need a permit. But, the zoning requirements apply for the installation even if they’re less than 6 feet tall.

Basic repairs or replacements of existing fences might not need a new permit. This only applies if the fence height, design, and location are the same. But, if you’re replacing more than a single section of the fence, you’ll most likely need a permit.

How Do I Get a Permit to Build a Fence?

Permission From Neighbors

Talking to your neighbors about your fence plan clarifies property boundaries, preventing disputes in the future. In some cases, adjoining property owners are legally required to share the building costs of a boundary fence.

You’ll need to issue a written notice containing the fence plan, estimated costs of construction and maintenance, and the proposed timeline.

Completing the Application Form

Fence permit application forms are often available on city or local municipality websites. Alternatively, you can visit your city hall to fill out the application.

You may need to submit a site plan showing the fence location and distance from other structures. Some cities also request written consent from neighbors.

Payment of the Requisite Fees

You’ll incur fees for the permit during the application or when the plan is approved. Permit fees vary with every state and the project scope. Commercial fence permits and large projects tend to cost more.

Consulting Your Homeowners’ Association (HOA)

The HOA has specific guidelines and standards for fences that homeowners must follow. The policies cover fence materials, height limits, colors, and design to ensure uniformity. Before construction, you must submit your fence plan to the HOA for review and approval.

Scheduling Inspections

Having a surveyor determine your property lines is crucial. You must also schedule an inspection to check if the property is within a floodplain or a floodway.

Once you get a fence permit, it’s necessary to call 811 call-before-you-dig to determine the underground utility lines. It ensures you don’t accidentally dig into an underground electric, water, gas, or sewer line.