When it’s time to put up a fence on your property, the task could be as simple as just figuring out the layout and buying the materials, or it could be a little more complicated than that. It all depends on where you reside, and whether your city or county contains local permitting and zoning laws.

Most cities and towns will require you to submit a permit request and have it approved before you can start building a fence. To find your local office, visit your city’s official website or call your local permitting office.

You should consider these things when you want to build a fence:

You need to provide details about the fence in order to get a permit.

If your municipality requires a fence permit, you will need to provide a few simple pieces of information on for approval, including:

  • The name of the contractor or company that will build your fence - The contractor needs to be licensed and insured, or you may not get the permit approved. If you plan to build it yourself, just provide your name and any information asked on the form.
  • The measurements and materials of your fence - The permit office will need to know the exact measurements of your fence, including length, height, and layout, as well as the materials used on the project and type of fence. You will need to bring a copy of your property survey to illustrate your measurements and fence’s layout. If you don’t have a copy of your property survey, your local tax assessor’s office will have it on file. If you do have your original survey, make sure you make a copy for your fence markings.

A sample of a property survey with a fence line can be seen below: 636957667445670000 Sample courtesy of shoreviewmn.gov.

Make sure your fence won’t overflow onto your neighbor’s property.

When designing the fence, make sure to pay close attention to your property lines. You may not be able to build a fence to the dimensions you had originally intended if it will overflow onto another property. If you build the fence and your neighbor files a dispute with your local zoning board, you will have to tear down the fence and rebuild it, costing you time and money.

Double check your neighborhood or homeowners association rules.

Even if you have obtained the proper permit from your local government offices, you may still be subject to neighborhood and Homeowners Association (HOA) regulations. If you live in a neighborhood that has strict guidelines on architecture and fences, you will have to follow those guidelines as well.

For instance, you may want to put up a 10-foot chain-link fence, but your HOA might require all fences to be made of wood and no greater than 8 feet tall. If you are unfamiliar with your neighborhood regulations, be sure to check with your HOA before building anything.

You may not need any permits at all if you live in a more rural area.

If you live in an unincorporated portion of your county, you may be able to build whatever you want, whenever you want, and be free of any HOA codes and local government zoning restrictions. This is particularly the case in many rural and farming areas where barns and fences are built at will. You must still follow basic property laws, but there might not be zoning laws at all in these areas. If the county has no restrictions, you will be able to put your fence up however you like on your property.

Just be sure to call your county government offices to check whether there are laws that apply to your situation. The last thing you want to do is to put the time and effort into either building the fence yourself or hiring someone to build it, only to have your local government fine you or force you to remove it.