Do I Need a Permit to Install a Fence?


Installing a picket fence may be one of the easiest DIY home improvement projects you can do. However, dealing with regulations may not be so easy. That’s where professionals can help. To hire professionals for building your fence you can search for a “fencing company near me”. Let’s figure out if you would need a permit for building a fence:

The Details

  1. Let the contractor handle it – While DIY projects give you an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, they also require you to personally deal with regulations. That means if you do need a permit for your fence installation you may need to visit concerned authorities. Sometimes it can be a frustrating, long and tiring process. Instead, you can hire a contractor to build a fence.

Contractors need to deal with authorities all the time and are familiar with this tedious process. When you pay a contractor to build your fence it’s a hassle-free process since they take care of the necessary permits. They assess your property and figure out if you need a fence. In their final quote, you’ll also see permit costs if your property needs them. Hiring a contractor also saves you a lot of time and liberates you from the hassle of both building a fence and acquiring permits for it.

  1. Your residential area matters a lot – Building a fence in an urban center like LA or Seattle is going to be more difficult compared to building one in rural Montana or Texas. Densely populated neighborhoods usually have strict building regulations that take the public’s safety into consideration and also have requirements about the neighborhood’s design guidelines.

For instance, if you are a farmer in a rural region with vast lands across the horizon, you’ll be able to build almost anything you want. Despite that, it’s best to consult the local building codes so that you don’t run into trouble with the authorities. Building codes also help you make appropriate changes to your plan to make your structure stronger and more stable.

If you live in the city, it’s highly likely that you’ll need permits and have to deal with the authorities procuring them. Check your city’s building inspector’s office to check if you need a permit. If you build something without a permit in areas that need them your structure would be brought down by authorities, and you may be slapped with hefty fines.

  1. The building structure – your fence installation could be subject to numerous regulations just based on where you locate it, what kind of materials are used to build it, and how you build it. The height also plays a key role here. For instance, if you’re building a fence all around your home you may be able to build 6- or 8-feet tall fences in the backyard. However, you may be restricted to a fence height of just around 3 or 4 feet in the front yard.

If you have a corner plot you may have more restrictions on the height so that turning cars don’t have a tall structure obstructing their view. When it comes to material restrictions you may have to adhere to historical restrictions, neighborhood ordinances, or Housing Association rules. For instance, if you live in an affluent neighborhood, you won’t be allowed to erect a barebone barbed wire fence. In some neighborhoods, Housing Associations even force all homes to make their fence out of the same material to maintain homogeneity throughout the neighborhood.

  1. Permits for replacement and repairs – Fences aren’t eternal structures, especially if you have bad weather. That’s why most basic fence repairs most likely won’t require a permit. However, depending on where you live, the definition of repair may be highly skewed and restricted. Usually, you’re allowed to do basic 1:1 repairs. That means if your 6 feet tall wooden post is damaged you can replace it with an identical post that looks the same.

However, you may require permits if you want to progressively change parts of your fence in order to build something taller or something completely different from the original design. Moreover, if a major section of your fence is damaged and needs to be replaced you may need a permit. Even if you decide to replace the major section with identical materials you may need a permit. However, in such cases obtaining a permit is fairly easy unless local building codes have changed drastically.

  1. Acquiring a permit – Depending on your unique circumstances you may already have a clue about whether you would need a permit for your fence installation. In case you have decided to go the DIY route, you’ll need to acquire it yourself. While the process may not be very difficult, it requires patience. Here’s how you can deal with it:
  • Call the city hall or your building inspector’s office to figure out if you would need a permit for your plans. They may give you a copy of the building codes and the necessary paperwork required for your project. Make sure to ask about costs since you may need to pay a fee to submit your application for approval.
  • After that, you’ll need to get your property lines surveyed and get your boundaries marked. After the surveyor is done with the job, he or she would give you a hard and digital copy of the survey. This helps you figure out the perimeter for building your fence and arms you with some paperwork if the building inspector asks for it.
  • Finally, you need to adhere to required setbacks from the property line and sketch out your fence. You may need to provide this sketch or a 3D rendering of what your fence is going to look like along with the materials used and the dimensions.


You may not even need a permit if you live in a sparsely populated area with loose regulations on small personal building projects. However, if you need a permit, you may need to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. You can avoid that by hiring a professional contractor by searching for a “fencing company near me”.

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