21. Fences and hoardings

Fence

A building consent is usually not required for fences or hoardings up to 2.5 metres high. Note: There are separate requirements for restricting access to residential pools.

Amended January 2017: Subclause (2) was replaced, as from 1 January 2017, by s18(2) Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016.

What the law says

Subject to section 42A of the Building Act, Schedule 1 exempts the following from a building consent:

1. Building work in connection with a fence or hoarding in each case not exceeding 2.5 metres in height above the supporting ground.

2. Subclause (1) does not include a fence or hoarding to restrict access to a residential pool.

Guidance on the exemption

Any building work relating to fences (which includes garden walls) and hoardings up to 2.5 metres high is covered by this exemption and will not need a building consent. (Note that fences to swimming pools are outside the scope of this exemption and will require building consent).

Hoardings are often put up around building construction sites and are only there temporarily to ensure public safety during the construction phase.

To check the height of your fence or hoarding against the 2.5 metre limit for this exemption, measure the vertical distance between the top of the structure and the supporting ground directly below.

Note that you will still need to comply with the requirements of the Fencing Act 1978 for boundary fences. In many cases, district plans made under the Resource Management Act 1991 may also require you to obtain a resource consent for fences over a certain height (usually over 2 metres).

Examples where this exemption could apply

Constructing a 2.0 metre high concrete block wall along a boundary to create a private back yard.
Building a 2.2 metre high timber paling fence in a back yard to act as a windbreak for a barbeque area.
Installing a 2.4 metre high hoarding around a construction site to ensure public safety
A concert organiser proposes to erect mesh fencing 1.8 metres high to stop concert goers getting onto the stage.

Examples where building consent is required

A building owner proposes to erect a 3.5 metre high wire mesh fence around his tennis court, well clear of any boundaries. As the fence height is greater than 2.5 metres, a building consent is required.
An owner wants to build a new timber fence with an overall height of 3 metres along the rear boundary of her property. As the fence height is greater than 2.5 metres, she will need to obtain a building consent.
The owner of a residential dwelling intends to extend a 2.8 metre high concrete block wall alongside a neighbouring boundary. As the fence height is greater than 2.5 metres, a building consent is required.
A building owner proposes to erect a new 1.2 metre high fence around her swimming pool. A building consent is required and the fence installed before the pool is filled with water. Regular three-yearly inspections will be required from the date of the code compliance certificate.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: