A Homeowner’s Guide to Fence Building Laws
Not only are fences attractive, they’re functional too. Fencing can improve your home’s security, protect kids and pets at play, and are great for defining boundaries. But, can you just hammer away and set fencing whenever and wherever?
As you probably expected, no. There are laws that exclusively relate to fence building. The laws do vary from state to state, and even town to town. This post looks at things from a general perspective. Below, we cover the legal basics when it comes to homeowners and fence building.
What Dimensions Does Fencing Need to Be?
Most fencing codes limit fencing heights to six feet in the backyard and four feet in the front yard. In the case that you decide to build a privacy fence, this fence has a maximum height limit of eight feet.
Note that privacy fences need to adhere to certain characteristics like having 30% or less of their surface area open to light and air. A valid reason must be present to build a privacy fence such as blocking a neighbor’s view or securing energetic pets on your property.
Can I Build Fencing at the Property Line?
In most cases, you can build fencing directly on the property line between you and your neighbors. The only caveat is that this fencing must be agreed upon between you and your neighbor beforehand. In the case that your property borders a public entity (e.g. parks, schools, train station, etc.), the fence may need to be a few steps away from the property line.
Do I Need to Notify My Neighbor Before Building a Fence?
In most cases, you are required to inform your neighbors about a new fencing project. One example of this is California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law. This law requires 30 days’ written notice of the fencing project along with details related to design, timeline, and maintenance cost.
In the event that your state doesn’t require you to notify your neighbor, it’s still encouraged. Not only is this good etiquette, it gives your neighbor a chance to speak up before you start investing time and energy into the project.
Who’s Responsible to Pay for Fencing?
Legally, fencing is seen as something that benefits both property owners. As such, both parties are responsible to split the fence cost. The same holds true in the case of fence damage, or just general upkeep of the fence. This is part of the reason why proper communication is important between both parties. Should a disagreement arise after the fence has been built, court may be the only option,