Wake County, NC Fence Building Codes & Permits
Wake County does not always require a building permit when erecting a fence. A permit is always required if the site is located within “Conservation, Historic, Landmark, SPI districts or other districts requiring a Special Administrative Permit.
Fences and walls which conform to the provisions stated herein shall be permitted by the Department of Environment and Community Development. Fences erected for agricultural purposes in the AG-1 District shall be exempt from permit requirements.
Easements: No structure with the exception of fences may be located in, or otherwise obstruct any easement. Fences shall be permitted within easements subject to the receipt of written permission from the easement holder. Approval of the Zoning Administrator and applicable County Department shall be required for all fences proposed for placement in easements which are held by Wake County.
Wake County Fence and Wall Standards
Walls or fences shall be permitted in any zoning district and are not subject to setback requirements of this resolution, except that in a residential zoning district:
(1) Fences and walls shall be screened over at least fifty (50) percent of their exterior face area by plantings which provide year round screening to obstruct the view of the fence or wall from adjacent properties. This may be achieved with a tight evergreen hedge that is one-half (½) the height of the fence or wall; or by using plants other than the evergreen hedge meeting the above requirement, provided that figures on the average mature height and spread of each species to be planted are submitted with the site plan for approval by the Zoning Administrator.
(2) The lot on which the animals are located shall be surrounded by a six (6) foot high security fence. Such fence may consist of a masonry wall, metal fence of solid appearance, or a chain link fence. The wall or fence shall be screened on its exterior side with a trimmed hedge, informal screen planting, or screen of natural vegetative cover; or an earth berm may be used in combination with such fencing. The height of the berm should not be greater than two-thirds (2/3) of the required height of the fence unless scale dictates otherwise.
(3) A security fence at least seven (7) feet in height, designed to discourage unauthorized entry, shall be installed around all portions of Class II uses directly involved in the storage and handling of non-radioactive fuel.
(4) Kennels, as defined in Section 1-1-1, provided that, where animals are not entirely enclosed, they are surrounded by a six (6) foot security fence (in compliance with provisions of Section 1-1-29 of this Code). Adequate parking facilities shall be provided.
(5) Boundary fences, gates, and security stations may be located in any required yard.
(6) A wall or fence provided for the purpose of protecting adjacent uses from potential noise, glare, trash, odor, visual disorder, or other harmful or noxious effects.
(7) A security fence designed to severely discourage unauthorized entry and at least seven (7) feet in height shall be installed around all portions of hazardous or low-level radioactive waste facilities directly involved in the storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous waste.
(8) State and county regulations require that all pools must be enclosed by a four-foot high fence with openings no wider than four inches, and self-closing self-latching gates. For further specifications of the fence requirements for pools see Appendix G of the North Carolina Residential Code.
Fences & Walls Cont.
(Revised September 2009) The Zoning Resolution (Section 700) and the Property Maintenance Ordinance (Section 14-301) contain requirements about the location, height, material, and maintenance of fences and walls on residential lots. In addition, the Development Regulations (Subsection 7.4.6) contain restrictions about the construction of fences and walls in a drainage easement. All of these requirements are applicable in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Fences proposed to be located in the rear yard must not exceed the maximum allowable height of 8 feet. Fences proposed to be located in the front yard must not exceed a maximum height of 4 feet. Materials used for fences in the front yard must be ornamental in design and constructed with materials such as brick, masonry, picket or split rail. Chain link or other woven wire fences are prohibited in a front yard. Corner lots have two (2) front yards and the same regulations and restrictions on fences in the front yard apply to the yard areas adjacent to both streets. Fences and walls are not allowed to be located in the street right-of-way. Although only a professional survey can determine the actual right-of-way boundary line, in most cases it is the area approximately 11 feet from the back of the curb toward the lot.
Fences and walls constructed after 27 April 1999 are not allowed in a drainage easement unless written permission from the county is given. For further information about fences and walls in drainage easements, please contact the Stormwater Plan Review Section of the Department of Planning & Development at 919.856.6335 between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays. Drainage easements are indicated on Final Plats of subdivisions that are kept on file in the Real Estate Records Office of the Clerk of Superior Court.
Fences may be placed adjacent to or on side or rear property lines. However, it is recommended that adequate room be provided between the fence and the property line for maintenance purposes without having to access someone else’s property without their permission. Barbed wire and electric fences are prohibited on residential lots less than 3 acres in size. All damaged or missing portions of a fence need to be replaced with comparable materials and shall be attached to the existing portion of the fence. Fences cannot be externally braced by a means of support other than the intended posts or other structural members. Building permits are required for fences greater than 8 feet in height (and provided a height variance is granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals at a public hearing) and for walls that are greater than 4 feet in height.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Where can I install a fence on my residential property? How tall can I build the fence? Is a permit required?
A. Each lot has a front, side and rear setback from the property line. Review the final plat of the subdivision to find the locations of these setbacks on the property. Although fences in the rear and side yards may be built up to the property line, it is highly recommended to offset the fence internally from the property line to allow room for maintenance to avoid crossing over to the adjacent property. Fences are allowed to be up to eight (8) feet in height in the side and rear setbacks. Each corner lot has two front yard setbacks, one from each right of way. Fences in the front yard setback are not allowed to exceed four (4) feet in height. A building permit is not required to install a fence 8 feet or less in height except a building permit is required for masonry and concrete walls which exceed 4 feet in height and function as a fence, screen, or barrier.
Q. Am I allowed to install a fence within a drainage easement on my property?
A. Possibly, although obstructions of any type including permanent structures are generally not permitted within drainage easements. Installation of fencing within a drainage easement requires approval by the Stormwater Plan Review Section.
Q. Is the homeowner required to be present at his/her residence during a scheduled inspection by a building inspector?
A. Either the homeowner or an adult representative must be present before an inspector can enter an occupied residence or fenced property. For inspection of an outside structure such as a deck, pool, or storage shed, the homeowner may place a note on the permit card granting the inspector permission to enter the property if he/she cannot be present during the inspection.
Fence Workshop™ supplies the following fence styles in Wake County, NC.
- Vinyl Privacy, Picket, Post & Rail
- Ornamental Metal, Steel, Aluminum & Wrought Iron
- Chain Link, Galvanized, Black Vinyl Coated
- Driveway Gates, Gate Openers, Access Control Systems, Entry Gates, Entry Systems
(Fence Workshop™ is not responsible for the accuracy of this information. Visit Wakegov.com and Municode.com for the most up-to-date information on Wake County fence building codes and permit requirements.)
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