California Building Code Fence Requirements

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Fences can add safety and privacy to any location.

The California Building Code outlines the state's fencing requirements. Different municipalities in California have the right to amend these requirements, as long as the minimum requirements are met. Those who build an illegal fence in a California city will have a civil suit brought against them. Illegal fences will be viewed as a nuisance. Before starting construction on any fence, be sure to check the laws that apply. Some fences need a permit before they can be constructed, while others do not.


Swimming Pools

The California Building Code requires all swimming pools that are deeper than 18 inches to be enclosed by a fence at all times. The fence itself must be at least 60 inches in height. The clearance at the bottom of the fence cannot exceed 2 inches. The purpose is to ensure that children cannot crawl underneath the fence and gain access to the pool. All swimming pool fences' gates must be self-closing and have a latch that is at least 54 inches from ground level. All fences must be designed to prevent children under the age of 5 from climbing over them.


Personal Fences

Personal fences in California, or fences built around a person's private property, are required to follow specific guidelines outlined by the California Building Code. Fences that do not exceed 6 feet in height do not need a construction permit. Fences can be built up to 8 feet without a permit, but only if the top two feet are made out of barbed or razor wire. All fences built within 5 feet of another building must be constructed with non-combustible material. The City of San Diego states that backyard fences cannot exceed 72 inches in height, while front-yard fences cannot exceed 42 inches in height. These requirements are supported by the California Building Code.


The Permit

Those looking to build a fence that exceeds the height regulations in California must first apply for a permit to build. The permit is valid for two years from the date it is issued. However, the permit will become invalid if no construction has started within the first 6 months of the permit being issued. In the event that the building permit becomes invalid, the person wishing to build the fence must apply for a new one and pay the fees. These guidelines can be found in Section 105.5 of the California Building Code.


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Noel Shankel

Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.