Building Fences


“Good fences make good neighbors.” – Robert Frost

“You may need a permit for that.” – City of Austin

Most fences an average city dweller may build would not need to be permitted through the City of Austin, but here a few guidelines to help you determine the best
way to design, permit (if necessary) and build your fence.

The first step anyone should take when building a fence is to discuss the project with his or her neighbor. A quick conversation with a neighbor on the front end of any project has the power to solve potential problems before they exist.

Fences can be made of many materials; metal, wood, stone, concrete, etc. These materials can be used to create “solid” or “ornamental” fences. An “ornamental”
fence is defined in Austin city code as “a fence with and open design that has a ratio of solid material to open space of not more than one to four’.  Any fence with a lower
ratio of solid to open material will be considered solid.

Fences constructed on your lot line may not be “solid” above the height of 6’ (average of 7’ if your lot is on a slope) but may be “ornamental” between the heights
of 6’-­‐8’.  A “solid” fence of 8’ may be constructed within the setback of your property but not on your lot line.

Fences 8’ and below do not need a building permit as long as you are not constructing your fence in a floodplain. Building a fence in a floodplain requires
permitting and review by city of Austin Engineering.

Your fence may be “solid” between the height of 6’ and 8’ provided you meet certain criteria relating to slope and safety, and you have written permission from your
neighbor. If your property is adjacent to an alley your “neighbor” is the city of Austin and you will not be able to get a letter giving written permission. You will need to
apply for a variance with the Board of Adjustment. You may build an 8’ solid fence without a letter or variance if your neighbor is zoned for or operating as a commercial business.

You may build a fence over 8’ in height on your lot line provided the fence is “ornamental” and not “solid”.

If you’re still not sure if your fence would need a permit we can help you get the clarity you need and the “good fence” you want.

To read “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost please follow the link:­‐wall