Fences and freestanding walls
For general information on building or replacing fences, including boundary fences see the Fences and freestanding walls factsheet (364.7 KB)
Some fences and freestanding walls do not need development or building approval if they comply with rules set out in regulations.
Exemptions from development approval
You don’t need development approval if a freestanding wall or fence complies with relevant provisions (Schedule 1, Part 1.3, Division 1.3.2, Section 1.51) of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008 .
A freestanding wall or fence doesn’t need development approval if:
- the fence or wall is no higher (above natural ground level) than:
- 2.7m for a mesh fence in an industrial zone
- 2.3m for all other types of fence panel or wall (with support post or column no higher than 2.5m)
- no part is between a front boundary and a building line
- it is not forming an open space boundary fence
- no part diverts or concentrates the flow of surface water onto other land or in a way that causes ponding.
You should also consider other general exemption criteria that may apply.
If you are seeking to build on a rural block different exemption rules apply. (see Schedule 1, Part 1.3, Division 1.3.5, Section 1.85 of the regulation).
If you are still unsure whether your development is exempt you should check the regulation or call ACTPLA on phone: (02) 6207 1923.
A building certifier can ensure plans and work are completed in accordance with the law.
Exemption from building approval
You don’t need building approval if the proposed fence or freestanding wall complies with relevant provisions of the Building (General) Regulation 2008. Schedule 1.
The fence or freestanding wall up to 1.8m above ground is exempt provided that it:
- is not forming an integral part of a required enclosure for a swimming pool
- is not part of a roofed building or retaining wall
- complies with general rules for exempt buildings.
The fence or freestanding wall over 1.8m and up to 2m above ground above ground is exempt provided that it:
- complies with the above rules for a fence or freestanding wall up to 1.8m above ground and
- has no masonry or concrete components (other than cement sheet products) are above 1.8m.
The fence or freestanding wall over 2m and up to 3m above ground is exempt provided that:
- it complies with the above rules for a fence or freestanding wall over 1.8m and up to 2m above ground and
- it has no masonry or concrete components (other than cement sheet products) above 1.8m
- materials and the use of the materials must comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
- work to erect alter or demolish the fence must be done in a proper and skilful way (see the Building (General) Regulation 2008, sections 31 and 32 for actual requirements).
Summary of things to consider when working in a proper and skilful way.
- Is the work or use of materials in accordance with the maker’s instructions?
- Is the work in accordance with any relevant rules or guidelines published by Standards Australia?
- Is a product or system used contrary to its intended use?
- Is a product or system used in a way that would cause more instability, or affect the durability or soundness of the building work than if the product or system were used appropriately?
- Is it reasonable for the user of a product or system to rely on the maker’s statement that the product or system complies with a stated standard?
- Does the work contravene the Building Act 2004 or another ACT law?
- Does the work meet or exceed reasonable minimum industry standards for construction tolerances?
General rules for exempt building work
- the proposed structure doesn’t adversely affect:
- the structural integrity of any part of the building
- a fire-rated wall, ceiling or floor
- a fire escape, emergency lift, stairway, exit or exit passage
- the natural light, the ventilation or fire protection system.
- the proposed structure doesn’t affect the building in a way that reduces its compliance with the Building Code to below minimum requirements
- Erection of the structure doesn’t involve handling asbestos or disturbing friable asbestos.
If you are still unsure about whether your development is exempt from needing building approval you should go to the building regulations.
For more information call ACTPLA on phone: (02) 6207 1923.