White Picket Fence

Neighbors and Fences

I occasionally recieve calls with questions about fences or building a fence.  There are many factors that can come into play.  Below are some suggestions to help avoid challenges with a neighbor.

  1. Don’t expect the neighbor to assist with the cost of a fence. In a survey of property owners, 90% of homeowners built or replaced a fence without help from a neighbor.
  2. Many cities have regulations and restrictions about what type of fence you can have and where/how it gets installed. Contact your county building department and get a written copy of fencing regulations. If a permit is required, see if there is one on file for the existing fence. Many jurisdictions allow fences up to six feet high without a permit. Also be sure to check your plat covenants for restrictions on height and type of fence. Most developments now do address fencing. If there is a Homeowner’s Association, double check to see if there is an architectural committee that oversees fence building and standards.
  3. Check your title report for easements that a fence might interfere with and be sure to call the utility company to verify the location of underground utilities.
  4. If no fence has been there before, be sure to have a good reference point to measure from or have a professional survey completed.
  5. If you take the fence down, the cost of removal should be borne by yourself since it was your choice to take down the structure in the first place.

If things are already a problem with a neighbor perhaps you could enlist the services of the Dispute Resolution Center of King County.