Your Guide to Austin Fence Laws and Regulations
October 19, 2023
Source: PexelsFences are important for maintaining privacy, security, and property lines, but there are several laws and regulations that property owners must comply with regarding fence construction and maintenance in Austin. Here’s everything you need to know about Austin fence laws and regulations to plan your project. “It’s important to understand the fence laws and comply with legal requirements for fencing materials, location, height restrictions, and boundary fences.”
What Are the Fence Laws and Ordinances in Austin?
Safe Fencing RequirementsThe Austin City Council updated the “Safe Fencing” requirements on July 20, 2023, to reduce features that can make fences more dangerous for children and wildlife. These regulations prohibit:
- Spiked pickets, bars, or other spiked decorative elements
- Vertical pickets above the top horizontal backer rail if the vertical pickets are separated by more than 2 inches and less than 9 inches
- Fences over 8 feet high that are solid
- Barbed wire unless the fence is enclosing an airport or other landing area for aircraft
- Any fence design or feature that creates substantial risk for entrapment or impalement
Building a Solid FenceYou can build a solid fence between 6 feet and 8 feet if it meets the requirements of City Code 25-2-899 (sections E through G). Otherwise, you must secure a variance from the City of Austin Board of Adjustment.
- A solid fence has more than 20% solid material
- Some solid fences up to 8 feet high are allowed
Ornamental FencesYou can’t build a solid fence over 8’ according to code Section B of City Code 25-2-899, which states that “an ornamental fence is a fence with an open design that has a ratio of solid material to open space of not more than one to four. A solid fence is a fence other than an ornamental fence.”
- An ornamental fence includes no more than 20% solid material and uses an open design.
- Height restrictions for other fences do not apply to ornamental fences
- A chain link fence is considered ornamental.
Property LinesA solid fence built along a property line may not be more than 6 feet high measured from the natural grade up. If there’s a grade change, the portion where the grade change occurs may be up to 7 feet high. There are situations in which a property owner can build a fence up to 8 feet, but they must have written consent from neighbors, and these regulations must be met:
- There is a change in grade of at least 2 feet within 50 feet of the boundary between the adjoining properties, or
- A structure exists that is likely to enable a child to climb over a 6-foot fence and gain access to a hazard, such as a swimming pool.
Other RegulationsThere are other regulations for fences in Austin, including:
- Permits: A permit is not required to erect a fence that’s 6 feet tall or taller, except along the City of Austin public right of way.
- Setback lines: A solid fence can be up to 8 feet high if the fence is located on or within the building setback lines.
- Corner lot: You must contact Transportation and the Public Works Department to confirm that the fence on a corner lot will not obstruct the view of traffic and be a traffic hazard.
- Floodplain: You need a permit to build a fence within a floodplain regardless of fence height or materials.
- Swimming pool barriers: A fence using a swimming pool barrier must follow safe fencing requirements and the Swimming Pool and Spa Code Chapter 25-12, 64 Article 14.
Why Do Austin Fence Laws Matter?Austin fence laws are designed to protect children, animals, and property owners. It’s important to understand the fence laws and comply with legal requirements for fencing materials, location, height restrictions, and boundary fences. Though designing and building a fence according to code can be challenging, fees for violations can range in the thousands of dollars for severe offenses, not to mention the time and costs to redesign or rebuild your fence up to code. Things to Consider When Installing a Fence in Austin There are several things to consider when installing a fence in Austin, including:
- The applicable fence laws for Austin
- Any HOA regulations
- Your intended use for the fence
- The type of fence and its maintenance requirements
- The suitability of the materials for Austin’s climate
- The durability of the materials
- The design that complements your home’s aesthetic
- The costs involved