Man building fence

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Fence?

Often, people think of building a fence in their yard as a bit of a DIY project; certainly nothing that needs to go through the same hoops as, say, a house or even a garage.

However, the truth is that fences are structures that sometimes require a certain level of regulation. Depending on where you live, you might need to get a permit from the local government before you begin construction.

Regulations are different in each town and municipality, but these general guidelines can help you get more clarity about what you need to do to ensure that your fence-building process goes smoothly.

Here are a few of the most frequent questions people have about fencing and regulations for construction in their yard.

Who needs to obtain the permit?

If you have a contractor installing the fence, then they’re the one responsible for obtaining the permit. This means that they’re assuming responsibility for ensuring that the structure is up to code. Be cautious about obtaining the permit yourself if someone else is actually doing the building. It will mean that you’re the one legally responsible for ensuring that the structure is up to scratch.

What’s the purpose of a permit?

There are a few reasons that cities regulate the building of fences (and walls) in private residences. First of all, it’s a precaution that ensures structural integrity, an important factor in something that borders your land because it can affect people besides yourself. Additionally, all fences need to be entirely contained and constructed within personal property borders. Sometimes, a review of the property lines needs to be done in order to make sure that the fence isn’t infringing on someone else’s property and needs. Last of all, a fence could affect public safety if it obscures visibility of signs, sidewalks, and roads. For this reason, the height and opacity of your fence will be factored in during the permit process.

Do I always need a permit to build a fence?

In some areas, certain fences don’t need regulation. This might be the case if you’re building a fence in the middle of your property rather than the border, especially if it’s only a couple feet high. However, if your fence is bordering your property, if it runs the risk of obscuring public visibility, or if it’s over two feet in height, then you need to check with local offices before building.

You’ll also need additional permissions if you’re looking into installing a barbed wire fence, or if you live in a historic district. It’s always better to check before building just in case.

What do I need when I apply for the permit?

Most permits will need a small payment (under $50) so be ready to pay that. Additionally, you’ll need to be able to present your building plan, including the materials in use, the height of the fence, and how it’s going to be composed. One more thing you’ll need is confirmation of your property borders, which might require information from your deed.