If you live in Pennsylvania and plan to build a fence on your property, you need to first be aware of the laws and regulations governing the process. The Fence Authority has been installing fences in the areas around West Chester, PA and Montgomeryville, PA for over 20 years, so we know a thing or two about Pennsylvania fence laws and requirements. Now, we’re passing that knowledge along to you!
What You Should Do Before Installing a Fence in Pennsylvania
Some of the things you should do before installing a fence in PA aren’t specific to the state; they’re items any future fence owner should explore. If you live in another state, be sure to check your state and local laws before installing a fence.
The first thing to do is to engage in general fence research. This involves addressing the following items, which are relevant regardless of where you live:
- Find zoning codes and property lines. Your county Recorder of Deeds may have a survey on file for your property. They may also be able to direct you to a list of codes in your county or municipality, such as how far back your fence must be from the property line, and whether or not there’s a maximum height allowed.
- Obtain a survey. If your government offices don’t have a survey, you will need to pay to have one done to make sure you are placing the fence on your property and not your neighbor’s!
- Get the proper permits. Once you know the local building code, you will know if you need to get a permit to build a fence. A permit is usually required. One exception is if you are simply replacing a fence in the same spot; in this case, your fence will likely be grandfathered into the previous permit.
- Check with your HOA. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, there may be even stricter fence requirements than what your town or borough lays out.
Challenges Specific to Pennsylvania and Chester County
- Pennsylvania rules of fence ownership. Who really owns the fence? In Pennsylvania, a fence placed directly on the property line is shared between neighbors when it comes to the cost of installation and maintenance or repair. If your municipality allows you to install a fence on your property line, which is common in more densely populated cities and boroughs, keep this in mind. It may mean you need to seek your neighbors’ approval of the type of fence you are installing, but it could also mean you can split the cost!
- Pennsylvania fence permits. Local building codes vary throughout Pennsylvania. Local municipalities aren’t limited to restricting a fence height or style, and they may institute additional laws about fence location and setback. The location of your fence may also determine style and height. For example, in an area where a 6 foot privacy fence is acceptable for the backyard, you may need a shorter, more open fence in the front.
- West Chester fence code. If you are located near us in the borough of West Chester, fence requirements can be found on the municipal website.
Pool Fence Requirements in Pennsylvania
Pool fences typically have the strictest requirements to ensure maximum pool safety. Although local laws usually go more in depth, the following requirements are for Pennsylvania as a whole:
- Any body of water more than 24 inches deep is considered a pool and must meet required safety standards.
- All pools must be fenced on all sides with a structure at least 48 inches high.
- For above ground pools: If the sides of the pool are 48 inches high, they can count as the fence. A removable or locking ladder is required, and it must be removed or locked when the pool is not in use.
- For in-ground pools: All fence gates must be self-closing and latching. A house may be used as the fourth side of the fence, but all doors leading to the pool area must have an audible warning device if no other gate or door is between the house and the pool.
When It Comes to Fence Laws, Professionals Know the Ropes!
Not sure whether you’re following fence requirements in your area? Working with a professional fence company can help. A local professional is skilled at dealing with local requirements and can be a great resource for what is needed to make sure your fence is installed right the first time.