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Good Permits Make Good Fences

I want to build a fence around 6-feet tall. Are there any codes or regulations I should be aware of?

In the City of San Diego, no construction permit is needed for a chain link, wood or masonry (brick) fence six feet tall or less. However, in some areas of the City there are zoning or other regulations covering the style and location of fences; you may need to comply with Zoning or Planning regulations. So, before you build, call our Information Line at (619) 446-5000.

There are regulations in the Uniform Building Code covering fences that you should follow. The regulations are summarized in our Information Bulletin 223. Whether you have your fence built by a contractor or handyman, or decide to do it yourself, following the guidelines will make your fence safer and more durable.

If you'd like a copy of Information Bulletin 223 (PDF), please check on this Web site (it will be here in when Phase 2 of this Web site is completed), or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to our mailing address.

The code offers standards for the type of wood you should use, spacing of posts and height of rails for wooden post-and-rail fences. For durability, the code specifies you use at least No. 2 Grade Foundation Grade Redwood, Pressure-Treated Douglas-Fir-Larch No. 2 Grade or better. Using a lesser grade may mean your fence will have a shorter life.

Post holes should be at least 2-feet 3-inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. Put loose gravel in the bottom three inches of the hole, then place the post and fill the rest of the hole with concrete.

We recommend the bottom fence rail be at least eight inches from the ground; the top rail eight inches from the top of the fence (5 feet, 4 inches from the ground on a 6-foot fence).

How far apart should the posts be? It varies depending on the height of the fence and the size of the post. For example, if your fence is 6-feet high, space the posts six feet apart if your posts are 4x4s. If you're using 4-inch by 6-inch posts, 8 foot spacing is OK.

How is the height of the fence measured?

In most areas of the City, height is measured from the top of grade to the top of the fence. However, in coastal and other areas, height and grade are set differently. Call our Information Line at (619) 446-5000 because if you build the fence too high, you could be subject to penalties and fines.

As always, if you live outside of the City of San Diego, check with your local jurisdiction before building.