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Building a fence

The Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006 regulate the building and management of common boundary fences. This includes their height, construction material, and neighbour agreement, including who pays.

Read about what happens if your property abuts Council land.

The Fences Act 1968 regulates common boundary fences – that’s when you and your neighbour share a fence. It regulates items such as contributions to the cost of fences and the serving of a Notice to Fence if an agreement between parties cannot be reached.

Who pays?

Regulations concerning who pays for a common boundary fence are subject to many conditions, but a general rule of thumb is that a private owner of land adjoining yours is obliged to contribute to the cost of the fence dividing your properties. 

Generally, your neighbour would be expected to share the cost equally with you. However, the Fences Act provides for different parties to contribute in different proportions in different circumstances.

Getting your neighbour’s agreement

It’s best to obtain a written quote from a fencing contractor (or preferably 2) and approach your neighbour to see if you can reach agreement.

Any agreement reached with your neighbour should be put in writing. The simplest way to do this is for each party to sign a copy of the quote and to write on it the proportion each agrees to pay. Make sure the quote is appropriately detailed.

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can serve your neighbour with a Notice to Fence.

Council does not administer the Fences Act. If you have a dispute with your neighbour over the construction of a new fence or the maintenance of an existing fence we suggest that you contact a community legal centre or a solicitor.

Your neighbour’s privacy

Building permit applications for the construction of a new house or alterations/additions to a house, including the construction of a deck, require consideration regarding overlooking of neighbours' windows and secluded, private open space.

There are concessions for the construction and/or alteration of a boundary fence if it is altered as a result of Building Regulation 419. Please consult your neighbour if you intend to modify the boundary fence.

If you are building a front fence, side street fence or a common boundary fence and you are in any doubt of the location of title boundaries, contact a licensed land surveyor to do a check survey.

A building permit is not required for common timber boundary fences if the fence:

  • does not exceed a maximum height of 2m 
  • is not used as a swimming pool or spa safety barrier
  • does not form part of a children’s service outdoor play space, such as a day care centre play area.

A building permit is required if:

  • the proposed fence height exceeds the heights listed in Table 1 
  • the fence forms part of a safety barrier for a swimming pool or spa
  • the fence forms part of a children’s service outdoor play space 
  • a brick fence is greater than 0.9m in a Residential R1 zone and 1.2m high in any other zone.

Apply for a building permit

Do I need a planning permit?

You may also need a planning permit under the Maroondah Planning Scheme. Although a building permit may not be required, it is always advisable to contact Planning Services on 03 9298 4287 before starting any works.

Dispensations

Building regulations do allow for some flexibility where a fence design does not comply with specific building regulation requirements.

In these cases an application may be made to Council for a Siting Dispensation

The definition of a fence’s ‘height’ is the vertical distance between natural ground level at the base of the fence and the top of the fence. 

The Maroondah Planning Scheme incorporates a Schedule to the Residential 1 one that overrides specific heights of front fences in the building regulations. The Residential 1 one is the primary planning scheme zone for residential development within Maroondah.  

Height of front and side fences that don’t require a building permit

 

R1 Zone

R1 Zone -Declared Road*

(See Declared Roads)

Other zones

Other zones -Declared Road*

(See Declared Roads)

Maximum height of front fence (within 3.0 metres of the street alignment)

0.9m**

1.2 m**

1.5m**

2.0m**

Maximum height of side and rear boundary fences

2.0m**

2.0m**

2.0m**

2.0m**

Maximum height of brick fence (any location)

0.9m

1.2

1.2

1.2

Maximum height of fences within 9.0m of the intersection of two street alignments

See Fences on corner allotments

* A declared road is a freeway or an arterial road as in the Road Management Act 2004. The height of fences on these roads is generally higher. 

** Fences exceeding these heights require a building permit and a Report and Consent (commonly referred to as a Siting Dispensation) from Council.

Declared Roads

A declared road is a freeway or an arterial road as in the Road Management Act 2004, including:

  • Bayswater Road  
  • Canterbury Road
  • Croydon Road  
  • Dorset Road
  • Hull Road  
  • Maroondah Highway
  • Mt Dandenong Road  
  • Plymouth Road  
  • Ringwood Bypass
  • Wantirna Road  
  • Warrandyte Road
  • Warranwood Road  
  • Wicklow Avenue  
  • Wonga Road (between Warranwood Road and Croydon Road)  
  • Yarra Road

 See VicRoads for a map of Maroondah's Declared Roads.

Fences greater than 2m high

If you wish to build a fence higher than 2m adjacent to a side or rear boundary (including a boundary that is a side or rear street alignment) you will need to check specific building regulation requirements such as:

When applying for a building permit, your construction plans for the fence must also show that you are complying with the above items.

Fences on corner allotments

There are additional restrictions for fences on corner allotments; particularly within 9m of the intersection of the street alignments (Building Regulation 427). Table 2 (below) and the following diagram shows the height of fences allowed on corner allotments.

Height of front and side fences on corner sites

A dispensation and a building permit is required for any front or side street fence exceeding the following heights:

Area

A

900mm in Residential 1 Zone

1.0 metre in any other Zone

B

1.2 metre for Declared Road

900mm for Non-Declared Road

C

1.0 metres

D

2.0 metres

Corner allotment fence plan

Fences with barbed wire or sharp protrusions

Fences containing barbed wire or sharp protrusions must be constructed a minimum of 150mm from the street alignment (title boundary) or public open space (such as a park).

The barbed wire or sharp protrusions must be a minimum of 2m above the adjacent ground level. Building Regulation 427(2)

Further information

For further information or for clarification on whether planning regulations affect your fence, contact Building Services.

Phone: 03 9298 4327
Email:  maroondah@maroondah.vic.gov.au

10/08/2017
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