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Do I Need a Permit to Build a Fence?

Vertical wood panelling fence

Fencing is an important part of any home, and it can provide you with privacy and keep out unwanted animals. Building a fence is a fantastic DIY project that can help you cut costs while improving the appearance of your home. But many people want to know if they need a permit to build one. The answer depends on where you live, though many places do require one. Keep reading as we discuss why a permit might be required and possible circumstances that may cause you to need one.

divider 5 Does Building a Fence Require Permits?

Every municipality will have unique laws governing the building of any structure, including a fence. You will need to check with your local authorities to find out if you need a permit and what laws you will need to follow to build your fence. Fences are necessary for privacy and safety, and many homes have them, so it is unlikely that you will have difficulty obtaining any necessary permits. Still, some things can cause the town to require permits even when it normally doesn’t.

man drilling metal fence
Image By: bogdanhoda, Shutterstock

Fence Permit Triggers

Protected Areas

One of the biggest triggers that can cause a homeowner to require a permit to build a fence is that the home is in a protected area. If your house is in an area with historic buildings or sensitive wildlife, the town will likely require a permit for any construction, and that permit will have rules that protect those things.

Distance From Street

Even municipalities that don’t require a permit to build a fence will likely still require that it be a certain distance from the street. If you need to place your fence closer to the road than allowed, you will probably need to apply for a permit to gain permission to do so.

white picket fence
Image Credit: Pixabay


The height of your fence can trigger a permit requirement, even in areas where no permit is typically needed. Usually, any fence higher than 8 feet tall will need a permit. However, some places won’t allow any fence taller than 6 feet without a permit.

Fence Materials

The materials that you use to build your fence can be another trigger requiring a permit. For instance, you can’t use barbed wire or razor wire without a permit in most areas. An electric fence will also require a permit. Some areas will allow barbed wire in industrial zones and electric fences in farming zones without a permit, but it’s best to check with the authorities.


Some municipalities will require written consent from any neighbor who shares a border with you as part of the permit application or in place of it. In some cases, the neighbor can be legally responsible for sharing the fence’s costs, and some areas seek to eliminate the element of surprise by requiring you to get permission.

Picket Fence
Image Credit: Ueberauer, Pixabay


One more thing that can cause you to be more likely to need a permit is the density of the homes in your area. If you live in a tightly packed city, you are much more likely to need a permit for any construction, including building a fence. If you live in the country with few houses near you, you will unlikely need any permits.

Fencing Companies

Building a fence is a great DIY project that is relatively simple to complete and can save you money in labor. It can be helpful to hire a fencing company, especially when you live in an area that requires permits because they can usually acquire them for you, though you will still need to sign them. The company will then follow any rules outlined in the permit and build the fence correctly.

divider 5 Summary

While some areas will require you to obtain a permit, most will not unless you are building something unusual, like a really tall fence or something with barbed wire on it. Even if a permit is not required, it can be a good idea to talk over your plans with any bordering neighbors so you can learn if they are against it before you start building, which can help avoid conflict. However, you can build your fence without concern in most cases after a quick check with the local authorities.

Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay


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