Building a fence - approval questions


When you build something on your property (shed, fence, etc.) that has to be approved first, do you need exact dimensions? For example, I want to build an enclosed fence, does the zoning department need to know exactly where it's going in terms of it's 4 ft from the shed, 2 1/2 ft from the driveway, 40 ft long, etc? Or do they just sort of mark out an area on the plat and say to build it in that area?
I've called and asked but they're not sure. I'd have to come in and talk to someone and show them the plat. I'd kind of like to get an idea beforehand of how it's going to work.
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This varies by municipality in my experience.
I can only offer my own experience: An annotated survey plot is all my town required for such applications. So long as you obey minimum side and back lot set back requirements for such things, and obey the setback distance from structures guidelines, they won't care if you're 6" further away from any of these, but they will care if you encroach those setbacks. They did come to inspect my shed and it was too close to the lot line and i had to move it or face a summons. It was a small shed and easy to move and reanchor.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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Todd H. wrote:

I'm concerned because over 15 years ago we built a 6ft fence about 16ft long along the property line to give us privacy from the neighbors. In the past 10 years, the county made new rules that a fence must be set back 1ft from the property line for 1ft in height. The existing fence violates that rule. We want to add the new fence on to that one, however, it would be too close to the property line on a diagonal. I'm afraid we're going to get approval, build the fence, and then have the zoning dept. say that it's not allowed.
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Depends on the area.
Some areas have fence regulations as to what the fence will look like (somewhat nice looking), that it is safe (no electric, glass, barbed wire, etc.), no taller than a certain height (like 6 ft.), and that it will not block the view of traffic (say a fence built in the front yard of a corner lot which could block the view of oncoming traffic).
So they want to know where you intend to build it, what it will look like, and a layout of your property.
Sometimes if you can communicate to them exactly what you plan to do, they are not picky about how exactly you do this. So maybe you could take pictures of your property and draw lines on the pictures of where the fence will go. Then maybe take pictures of a similar fence and say this is what it will look like. Again this may or may not be good enough depending on the area.
So far as building sheds or structures, they will probably be more picky. But it has been my experience that they are quite flexible with do-it-yourself fence projects.
"Mike S." wrote in message

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If they don't know, who does?
Most cases, they are concerned with setbacks from the property line and clearances from other buildings.
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Mike S. wrote:

fence in our neighborhood, good side out, no taller than 6'. If your building department doesn't know the regs, perhaps they have a website with the code. There might also be issues of utility easements, setbacks, etc.
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In some developments, there is an Architectural Review Committee that you also need to gain approval. Now would be a good time to visit with your adjacent neighbors to see if they have any concerns regarding your fence. It just MIGHT be that your neighbor's sprinkler system was not installed where he thought they put it. It could even be on your property. You would need his help to test his system for leaks after your postholes are done. Could save you some grief in the long run. The ARC (if you have one) will probably ask you whether the neighbors have expressed any showstopper concerns. You would want to be able to say that none were mentioned when you told them about your project.
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They will need to know all the dimensions, lengths, and spacings. Usually you can just mark out the outline on a survey. Your local building dept. should have an old survey on file for your property if you don't have one.

That's because you spoke with a secretary, not a building official. If your town has the codes regs on the internet, you may find them to be illegible legalese. Just go in and ask, no biggie. When I wanted to build my shed, I went in with only a picture from the Menard's Sunday ad, and an old survey from when I bought the house. They were so happy I came in first that I got two nice variances (for lot line setbacks) right on the spot!
S
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Finding the keyboard operational Mike S. entered:

You are getting a lot of great advice but it's all wrong. Unless someone has dealt with your municiple offices, they can only relate their experiances. I have been on zoning boards, planning boards and been my own contractor a couple of times. Each situation is different. For example: I work in one town and live in another. I've dealt with both building inspectors and they couldn't be more different. One town will pretty much let you tear down your building and rebuild calling it a repair. Property lines are "over there somewhere". The other town has a building inspector that is tough. Everything better be exactly like on the blueprint (3 copies required). If it looks wrong to him, it's wrong. He is fair though, everyone gets the same treatment. Right down to him dropping by if he is in the neighborhood, unofficaly, just for a look around and to offer a little advice. You have to get with your building inspector and find out what he expects. Make an appointment for a face to face and keep notes of what you have to do to pass his inspection. Bob BTW I like the 2nd inspector better..
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Mike S. wrote:

One thing to watch out for when building fences, incidentally, is to make sure that it's either see-through, like chain-link, or it's low enough so that you can see children walking along the side-walk when you are backing out of your driveway.
I have a friend whos neighbor just installed a 4-foot, solid, wood fence along my friend's driveway. Now, he's not sure if he ought to complain or just keep his mouth shut.
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