A Guide to Fence Laws & Regulations in North Carolina

Navigating fence regulations in North Carolina can be complex. Learn more about the relevant laws to tackle your fence project with confidence!
Veda Yalamanchili
Veda Yalamanchili
Last Update:
June 6, 2024

If you live in North Carolina or are planning to move there, you’ve probably seen many fences around. Fences are great for marking where your property ends, keeping your privacy, and making sure everyone is safe. But before you start building or renovating a fence, there are some rules you need to know about.

In this blog, we aim to help you understand these rules. We’ll talk about what kind of materials real estate or property owners can use for their fence, how tall it can be, where you can build it, and how to make sure it’s safe. We’ll also guide you on how to get a permit for building a fence.

But remember, this blog is just a guide. Laws can change, and there might be other rules from your local government or homeowners association. So, always double-check everything and talk to a legal expert if you need to. This guide is here to help you, but it’s not legal advice.

Fence Materials Regulations in North Carolina

North Carolina has limited regulations regarding any type of fence materials to use. This allows for flexibility in fence design and caters to individual homeowner preferences. However, there might be restrictions imposed by local municipalities or homeowners' associations (HOAs)

Cities and towns within North Carolina may have ordinances that dictate acceptable materials or impose limitations on certain materials. For instance, barbed wire and razor wire fences are prohibited in all residential areas of Charlotte. And if you are planning on installing chain link fences in Charlotte, they must be constructed of galvanized steel or aluminum and have a minimum mesh size of 2 inches. In the historic districts of Wilmington, new fences must be compatible with the architectural style of the district.

Homeowners' associations (HOAs) often have strict guidelines regarding fence materials, style, height, and even color. It's crucial to check your HOA's Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) before finalizing your fence material selection. Make sure there are no restrictive covenants that will affect your fence project.

Fence Height Regulations in North Carolina

When it comes to installing a fence in North Carolina, one of the key factors to consider is the height of the fence. Fence height regulations in North Carolina vary depending on the zoning district or location of the fence and any applicable local ordinances or HOA restrictions. There's no single, uniform maximum height for fences across North Carolina. But in most cases, the default maximum height for fences is 8 feet.

Many cities and towns restrict the height of fences in the front yard to maintain a more open feel in neighborhoods. Typical limitations range from 4 feet to 6 feet. For example, Durham, NC, allows only a four-foot fence in the front yard unless a building permit is obtained for a taller, open-weave fence. But, if the fence is located in the side yard or rear yard, the maximum allowed height is 8 feet

If your property is on a corner lot, different fence regulations may apply. For instance, no fence can be higher than 8 feet unless it is at least 15 feet away from all property lines or complies with principal building setbacks. This rule is designed to ensure visibility at intersections for the safety of motorists and pedestrians.

Property Line and Fences Regulations in North Carolina

property line

When it comes to property lines and fences in North Carolina, there are specific laws and regulations that homeowners need to be aware of. North Carolina Fence laws govern how fences can be constructed along property lines and provide mechanisms for resolving disputes between neighbors.

Protecting Your Rights and Maintaining Harmony

By understanding these property line and fence regulations, you can ensure a smooth fence-building process and avoid potential conflicts with your neighbors:

Fence Safety Regulations in North Carolina

Fences provide a sense of security and privacy for your property. But beyond aesthetics, ensuring your fence is built and maintained safely is crucial. Here's a look at fence safety regulations in North Carolina and how they contribute to a secure environment for you and your loved ones:

Structural Integrity: Fences must be constructed with sturdy materials and proper techniques to withstand weather conditions and prevent collapse or instability. This could pose a safety hazard to anyone near the fence, especially children or pets.
Pool Safety: Similar to many other states in the US, North Carolina has specific regulations for fences surrounding residential swimming pools outlined in the NC Administrative Code (NCAC). These fences must be at least four feet high with a self-latching or self-closing gate that opens outward.

Obtaining a Fence Permit in North Carolina

Fences add beauty, privacy, and security to your property. But before you grab your tools and get started, it's crucial to determine if you need a permit in North Carolina. Here's a breakdown of the process for obtaining a fence permit, to help you navigate this step smoothly:

Do You Need a Permit?

In general, if your fence project involves adding, moving, or replacing more than half of an existing fence, you may need to get permits from the city. A zoning permit may also be required for any fence installation. But also check:

Get Your Application Ready

To apply for a permit, you’ll need to fill out the Residential Permit Application. You’ll also need to complete the Residential Site Plan Checklist, which includes a diagram of the proposed fence and a survey indicating the proposed work on your property. Depending on the complexity and the location of the project, you might need to pay fence permit fees.

Submit Your Application

Once you’ve got all your documents ready, you can submit your application. Make sure you’ve filled in all the necessary information, including details about your contractor if you’re using one.

Wait for the Green Light

After you’ve submitted your application, it will be reviewed to make sure it complies with the North Carolina state building code. Processing times can vary, so be sure to factor this into your fence construction timeline. The building department might have questions or require revisions to your plans before issuing a permit. Once your application gets the thumbs up, you can start building your fence. Also, keep in mind that during and after your fence construction, you may need to schedule inspections to make sure your fence meets all the necessary regulations.


Building a fence in North Carolina is more than just a home improvement project. It’s a process that involves understanding and adhering to the state’s laws and regulations. From choosing the right materials to understanding height restrictions, property line considerations, and safety regulations, there’s a lot to consider.

While this guide provides a comprehensive overview, it’s always a good idea to consult with a legal expert or your local municipality to ensure you’re fully compliant with all the rules and regulations. After all, being a responsible homeowner means not just taking care of your property, but also respecting the laws that govern it. If you need more information or are planning a fence project in North Carolina, do contact us at Ergeon and we will make sure you have a secure and stunning fence that also meets all state and local regulations.

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