Can You Build a Fence on a Corner Lot?


You’re in a predicament. You bought a new home on a corner lot but you realized that there are more noise and bustle than you’d like. You want to build a fence, but you’re not really sure how or if it is even allowed.

You can build a fence on a corner lot. You will need to survey your lot, obtain a permit from the local government, and meet specific measurement qualifications. It must be 11 feet away from your back door and 3.5 to six feet tall depending on how much the ground adds to your total height.

We will go more in depth on the process of extending a fence below.

The Guide For A Corner Lot:

1) Survey Your Land

There are many ways you can survey your land to create accurate measurements for your eventual zone permit. Here are a few steps that I have found effective when finding out the qualifications for your property. One is through professional means, and two are steps you can do on your own at home!

Option #1:

Hire a professional to help you out. HomeAdvisor is a great resource to use while trying to find a land surveyor for your project. Source

Option #2 (DIY):

You will need a level, laser pointer, a few random objects, and a measuring tape.

1. Find a few objects (house, trees, etc.) that, together, allow at least one of them to be a level line-of-sight from anywhere in the yard.

2. Tape a laser pointer on the end of a level (taped so you can use the level as a sort of monopod resting on the ground).

3. Move around the yard, hold the level horizontal and parallel with the ground, and point the laser at one of the objects. Have someone at the object use a measuring tape to record the measurement. Subtract the length of your level.

4. Once you have all of your measurements, figure out the elevation offsets of the objects to one another and offset measurements against them accordingly. Source

Option #3 (DIY):

You will need a good DSLR camera, a sturdy tripod, a graduated rod, and some nice math skills.

The basic technique using a leveling transit and rod is:

1. Pick a zero location.
2. Set up transit away from that location, where the head is higher than your zero.
3. Put graduated rod (usually red and white 1 cm marks) on the zero.
4. Sight the rod, and record the measurement. This gives the Height of the instrument (Hi).
5. Repeat the sighting and recording at every point you want to measure.
6. Once you’ve done everything you can from one location, move the instrument to new territory, sighting back to a known station to get the new Hi.

The math you need to know:

– Assume an elevation of Zero for your first benchmark.
– Hi = reading on rod.
– All other stations from that setup point are Elev = Reading – Hi (relative to benchmark)
– To determine Hi2 from a known station, Hi2 = Elev(station) + Reading. Source

2) Check The Area’s Qualifications

Each area, based on the population and density, has created its own guidelines in terms of building/rearranging structures. To build your fence on your corner lot legally, you will need to meet those requirements. There are thousands of different requirements out there. Find which zone you live in, then check your zoning qualifications online or in person.

Just so you have a correct idea, the typical qualifications for a corner lot is:

  • Eleven feet back from your back door,
  • At least 3.5 feet tall on an entirely flat surface,
  • Does not interfere with traffic in any way
  • No taller than 6 feet high

3) Meet With An Attorney Or Director Of Public Works (if needed)

You may have found that you may need to make some specific adjustments to your property to build the corner fence. It may be a more complicated task than you originally thought, but it is possible. You should definitely meet with an attorney or a Director of Public Works in your area to best help you with your specific circumstance.

Even if you are not in the boat of needing specific adjustments for your fencing project, you should still meet with them. They make the application process very simple and you will always have the reassurance that you are going about this project effectively and correctly. Many individuals recommend this step, even with the added cost.

4) Apply for A Permit

Again, there are so many different hoops you will need to jump through, depending on the project and where you live.

Depending on the type of zoning permit you are aquiring, you may have to fill our the form in the office in person or simply fill out a form online. The turn around time to get your permit depends on the amount of projects going on and the amount of workers processing the permits.

Typically, it takes around a few days to a few weeks, especially if your agency allows you to fill out the form online. Some people have reported though that their permits where they live (especially those where you need to walk in) take several weeks to over a month to process. However you need to do it, be sure to get it done because it is a critical step.

5) Pay Attention To The Specific Qualifications

Yes, there are even more requirements! Others have mentioned that even after they applied and received their permits, there were other instructions they had to follow (depending on the type of permit they got). Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you follow all the instructions necessary to put up your corner lot, legally. After you have done all this, you are ready to build. Source

Possible Substitutions For A Corner Lot:

What if after all you can do, you are unable to build a corner lot?

  1. Landscape – add some greenery around your corner lot to give you the privacy and protection you need
  2. Smaller Perimeter Fence – If privacy is the concern for you, bring your fence in a little more so it will allow you to make a taller one.
  3. Retaining Walls – Find some retaining walls and stack those! This may not be legal where you live but is common in most places, so please be sure to check before you start building.

It may be a roundabout way of getting a little bit of a taller fence, but make sure that you are keeping the safety of those drivers and pedestrians in mind. Don’t sacrifice anyone’s safety for anything, no matter what. Source

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