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.
Planning for your fence
What should you do before installing a fence in Pennsylvania? Some of these items are general planning items that any future fence owner would want to explore. Others are specific to PA. If you live in another state, be sure to check your state and local laws before installing a fence.
First, engage in general fence research.
- 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 – 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 more strict 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 on the property line is shared between neighbors in PA in terms of 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 may also institute 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 municiple website: http://www.west-chester.com/131/Building-Housing-Zoning-Regulations
Pool fence requirements in Pennsylvania
Pool fences typically have the strictest requirements since they’re needed for safety. Here are the requirements for Pennsylvania as a whole, although local laws usually go more in depth.
- 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: The sides of the pool, if 48 inches, may be considered 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. A power safety cover may also be used.
Professionals know the ropes!
Not sure about 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.