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Think Before You Build: Common Fencing Laws and Regulations

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Fencing laws will dictate various technical measurements of a fence. States, cities, and counties all have their own zoning laws which you will need to look into before installing a fence. Without proper approval, you could be subject to fines or forced to remove the fence. There are many factors that may require different rules so it is best to be familiar with what aspects will be important.

These laws are not just in place of safety, or city regulation, but are for your neighbors. A fence that is an eye-sore can be detrimental to your relationship with fellow members of your close society. Make smart design choices, and touch up on your knowledge of all of the rules that will pop-up along the process.

Fence Laws

Exact laws vary by state, but there are overarching concepts and similarities that carry through most fencing regulations. These are important to take into account before you make concrete plans to build a fence. There could be circumstances in the way that need cleared up before construction.

Height Limits

In residential areas, the height limits of fences differ between the front and backyard. The limit is six feet in the backyard, and four feet in the front yard. These standards are easy to follow because of the regulations in place. Fencing companies will usually only present fences in those ranges for residential use.

Privacy fences are a common addition to homes, but it can be dangerous if the fence reaches an unsteady height. Also, the more surface area on a fence the more susceptible it will be to wind damage. If that were the case, large pieces are more likely to do damage to a neighbors property nearby.

Prohibited Materials

For the most part, if you’re buying a fence, forbidden fence material will be taken care of for you. However, it is important to mention you cannot build an electric chain link fence topped with razor wire in most neighborhoods. Designs such as this are dangerous to everyone around.

If you are completely restoring or making your own fence, do not proceed without looking for what is forbidden by state regulations, and even more specific neighborhood rules. If the cost, labor, and maintenance of a wood fence scares you, know there are self-installable vinyl fencing made of vinyl which is an approved fence material. Even chain link fencing will produce a smoother installation with approved metals.

Fence Maintenance

Taking on a new addition to your home is a responsibility. Even if you follow all the other guidelines to install your fence you will still have to keep it in sufficient condition. In a debacle, repairing a fence can cost a bit of time and mone, but it will need to be fixed.

This can lead to wondering what to do if a fence is in between the property lines of yours and a neighbor’s house. Often by just discussing the issue with a neighbor you will be able to find a solution that works for both of you. If not you may have to find the exact property line to determine whose responsibility it is.

Fence Building Requirements

The process of building a fence has its own set of rules accompanying it. For instance, if the fence you intend to build is on a property line, it is polite to notify your neighbors. There are communities, or states that have particular rules. California State Law dictates you must have written notice prepared thirty days before installation.

In other states you simply must build a fence, or any structure, a certain distance away from from the property line to avoid any disputes over incurring on other’s property. If the fence is being installed professionally, remember the noise levels and keep them at a minimum to be a conscience neighbor.

‘Ugly’ Fences

When a design goes against the cohesiveness of neighborhood, it could propose problems. This usually goes for bright colors or over the top themed designs. Some subdivisions and communities will have direct and strict rules to follow for the design of your fence. If you have a homeowners association in your area check what guidelines they have in place for your neighborhood.

‘Spite Fences’

To build an ugly structure in spite of another neighbor or the entire neighborhood is considered malicious. Some states have laws that govern these minor squabbles. You cannot try to force your neighbor out by obnoxiously decking your house out in their rival football team’s colors and logos. This also includes building a taller fence right up against your neighbors because you don’t like theirs, the small area in between can attract pests and wildlife to your community.

Property Lines

It is commonly know that to build a fence, you must do so on your property. This is where property lines come into consideration. If the only viable option is to build a fence where your neighbors’ and your property lines meet, talk to your neighbor. You could very well end up only splitting the cost if they are interested in the addition of a fence.

Fence Repairs

We have already covered the regular maintenance of a fence, but if a fence because dilapidated, it is important to repair immediately. If you have a dog then it is your responsibility to fix the fence if a law requires a fenced in yard with possession of an animal. If you have a pool and the fence breaks to reveal it, even if the fence is shared property, it is your job to take care of it. This falls on you because the pool is the reason the fence must exist.

Natural Vegetation

There are situations where the maintenance of a fence can be tricky to keep to standard. Most state regulations take vegetation into consideration, as well as other geological structures like lakes or excessive hills. More time is allowed in these situations to keep a fence’s proper appearance.

Prepare For a Fence Installation

Making the decision to purchase and install a fence is the beginning of a lot of planning and organizing. Certain things need done beforehand. If there are any state or city regulations on zoning in your area be sure you know what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

The first and most important step is to plan and measure exactly what area the fence will cover. This way when purchasing materials for your fence you won’t end up with too much or too little. Clear this area of any debris or possible obstructions to save time and energy when it comes time to install. Finding rocks too big to move manually, or hard slopes on your property will help you decide if something needs to change before investing.

Research Fencing

Learning all of the rules required for building a fence may overshadow the actual fence you are installing. Take time to look into different fencing options and see what works best for you. There are many modern options online some buyers may not know to consider.

Vinyl Fencing

Vinyl Fencing is a cost efficient fencing option that comes in a variety of designs and colors. This type of fence is sturdier and easier to install than a traditional wooden fence, and its variety of styles can match any buyer.

Vinyl fencing can by-step most rules pertaining to design, and since so many are offered there are sure to be a style that will fit your tastes and the neighborhood’s regulations. The upfront cost is cheaper and installation can be easily done over a couple days. The real cherry on top is the little effort it takes to maintain maintenance laws. The sturdy nature of the pvc vinyl fence will withstand harsh weather conditions and stay standing legally for years to come.

DIY Fence Building Tips

Here are few tips that will help you while starting to build a fence.

  • If your specific needs are for a fence that is outside of regulation, consider contacting the zoning board who can make a judgement on your case.
  • Get help from friends or family to turn the work into a fun project together.
  • Even shrubs or trees that create solid boundaries count as fences.
  • Do not let design get in the way of quality. Do not settle for a subpar fence because it is the only one that follows color regulations.
  • Wood fences require much more maintenance to continue meeting appearance standards.

Regulated Fencing

If you’ve come to the conclusion that a fence is just what you need, taking the time to research beforehand will give you the information and tools you need to successful install a regulated fence. Modern fences and self installation can save a lot of money, but if your fence isn’t installed properly to begin with, you could end up paying more to fix the issues.

Checking all neighborhood guidelines will make sure you do not build a fence that is against certain protocol. Also, it is never a good idea to have all of your neighbor’s angry at you.