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“Does this mean that I need more than a simple postcard permit in order to build this fence?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 15, 2017 at 1:15 pm 5 Comments

corner fence
Photo by PoPville flickr user Lorie Shaull

“Dear PoPville,

So I have a question. I own a corner lot that currently has an old chain link fence with various tree sized shrubs grown into it along the side of the property and I was hoping to replace it with a wooden fence around 6ft tall. I have looked at my zoning and it appears that the existing fence exists 30″ beyond my official lot boundary. That is fine, I have no problem building the new fence 2 1/2ft in from the existing one, but there is also a setback line that runs along the edge of the house itself. Does this mean that I need more than a simple postcard permit in order to build this fence?”

  • ET

    I too live on a corner and replaced my fence but wasn’t doing any moving of it but I got a full in permit. You are dealing with property lines and it really is better to be safe than sorry. Also people can and will, look to make sure all is on the up and up and if you tave one of those neighbors that is a stickler, you may find a postcard permit not enough.

  • Anonymous

    Postcard permits only cover in-kind replacement of the fence. So, by regulation, you’re going to need a fence permit. Fence permits really only require the plat and a hand-drawn layout of what you’re going to do. I was able to get mine quickly at the homeowners center, though that was for a back fence without property line/public space issues.

    It’s not your exact situation, but in parts of the city where the lot line ends at a houses facade, many homeowners skirt 42″/50% opacity regulation by planting dense hedges around around the length front/side yard. Those hedges play the role of a fence. Just another option to consider.

  • Fences make good neighbors

    we got a postcard permit for the replacement of our fence but ours was the same height and material. But you might run into trouble if you are changing height and moving the lines of the fence. It appears you might also be able to keep the fence where it is if you follow some of these rules. And if you are in a historic district your fence height will also be a problem. Best to call The Home Owners Permit Center. They were pretty helpful and are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 am – 4:15 pm and Thursday from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Call (202) 442-9470.


    3112.1.4 Permit applications. Application for permits to erect or increase the height of a fence, or change the grade adjacent to a fence, shall be accompanied by an official building plat upon which the proposed fence location is indicated. Review and approval by the Zoning Administrator shall be required before a permit shall be issued.

    Exception: Review or approval by the Zoning Administrator shall not be required where (a) an existing lawful fence is replaced; (b) the extent, location, and the height of the fence is unchanged; and (c) the adjacent grade is unchanged.

  • Robert

    You must first determine the exact lot lines and either build within those lines or have permission from the person who owns the adjacent property to build on the lot lines. If your new fence is over the line, your neighbors own it and it could be dismantled.

  • 20011

    I agree with the other comments – get the full permit. Go to the homeowners center first at DCRA. I tried to navigate DCRA on my own and it was a bad choice. I ended up with a jerk and I had to get three permits for my fence on our corner lot – zoning, structural, and DDOT. Yes, that’s the Department of Transportation. For my fence. I’ve had neighbors who put up fences without permits and are now facing the wrath. Good luck!


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