Last Updated Oct 27, 2017 · Written by Samantha Thorne
Whether you’re renovating a property or building a new one, you’re likely to come across the need to erect a fence for things like security, safety, privacy or to create a boundary around your home. As simple as it may sound, there are actually quite a lot of Australian fencing rules standards that your fence needs to adhere to.
Fences standards are affected by all sorts of things like materials, height and location - it can get a bit tricky. To ensure your fence installation is as easy as possible we’ve put together this article to explore current Australian fencing standards. We’ve also included a bunch of helpful links to assist you should you need more information.
First of all, what do we mean by Australian standards? Standards documents provide a recommendation for ensuring all kinds of products are safe and in appropriate working order. Standards Australia is a non-government organisation responsible for setting and reviewing standards which are all based on extensive research.
While to many the process may seem like another case of ‘red tape,’ it helps to keep in mind that having regulations like these in place are necessary to ensure that things like fencing have standardised protocols to keep all Australians safe.
You may read that standards aren’t legal documents, however, governments will regularly incorporate standards when creating building rules and legislation. So at the end of the day, you need to do your research and keep your eyes and ears open to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal.
Australians have a real love for a backyard pool, but we can’t deny the inherent danger they can cause when not isolated by a fence. We’ve all heard the horror stories and it’s clear that poorly erected pool fencing is linked to an increase in child drowning rates. With that in mind, getting your pool fence right is incredibly important.
Referring to Australian Standards AS2820, AS2818 and AS1926, they specify the following:
Many state and territory governments have incorporated these standards into their pool fencing laws, but since each state and territory government is different, pool fencing legislation can differ slightly.
For a more detailed rundown of what’s required, you can refer to our complete pool fencing guide. Before erecting a new pool fence, that is, before you even begin the process, be sure to contact your local council, state government or building authority to ensure that you build a fence that meets current laws and legislation.
A dividing fence is a structure that separates your land from your neighbour’s land. Most state governments around Australia have laws to regulate the building and maintenance of dividing fences, and for good reason.
Remember that the information below was correct at the time of writing. In any case, we advise you to conduct your own research, contact your relevant government authority and make sure that any dividing fence you erect meets all the required rules and regulations.
When it comes to erecting a dividing fence in NSW, regulations are affected by things like your local LGA and the age of the structure in which you want to fence around. Some fencing materials, for example, aren’t permitted under heritage protection laws. It’s important to check your local council website or speak to a council representative to understand the guidelines in your area.
The act that governs dividing fences in NSW is called the Dividing Fences Act 1991. It’s important to note that this act doesn’t cover Crown land, public parks, reserves or roads.
For more information on dividing fences, you can refer to Legal Answers, Chapter 7: Dividing fences, a resource compiled by the State Library of NSW.
The Victorian Fences Act 1968 stipulates rules around who pays for a fence, how it should be constructed and how to deal with boundary disputes.
Generally, with a side boundary or dividing fence below 2 metres in height, a building permit is not required, however, if the height of the fence is over 2 metres, you will need one. If you need to apply for a building permit, then you need to engage the services of a registered a licensed building surveyor.
Remember that any adjoining fence between two properties requires collaboration between you and your neighbour.
In Queensland, the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 deals with rules around building dividing fences. Building and planning approvals are generally not needed if the fence meets the below requirements:
If your property is on a corner, fencing requirements are a little different - for example, your fence should allow a clear line of sight for drivers and not obstruct any oncoming traffic.
In the ACT, dividing fences are bound by The Common Boundaries Act. if you’re looking to build a fence you’ll need to do your research and speak to your local council about regulations and requirements. Under current legislation, some small fences are considered Class 10 Structures and are exempt from building approvals.
Certain criteria around building materials apply. For example, if your fence is metal, it should be unperforated and finished in a pre-coloured proprietary finish. All sharp edges should also be capped. You can read more about what you need to keep in mind on the ACT planning government website.
In the Northern Territory, you don’t need building approval for a fence if it less than 1 metre high or does not offer wind resistance. Some areas of the NT, like Darwin, for example, don’t require you to have to fence around residential properties.
For more information about fencing legislation, you can refer to the NT Fences Act.
in WA the Dividing Fences Act 1961 outlines the process for sharing the costs with your neighbours and how to handle disputes. Find out more on the commerce.wa.gov.au site.
In many Western Australian LGAs, brick and masonry fences require a building permit. Simple, conventional dividing fences, on the other hand, are more likely to not need one. However, hipages advises you to check with your local government first, as construction without planning and building approval is an offence.
For information around dividing fencing rules in Tasmania, you can refer to the Boundary Fences Act 1908.
In Tasmania, you need a planning permit for rear and side fences if:
When erecting a boundary fence in South Australia, like every other state, the process must involve your neighbour. You should check with your local council or state government about whether your fence needs development approval.
Restrictions generally apply for:
Standards exist for certain fencing materials, such as COLORBOND®, metal and timber. For instance, AS1397 and AS2728 relate to coated mass and paint film thickness on zinc and zinc alloyed fences.
For timber, AS1604 outlines how timber, plywood and wood-based products should be treated. If the fence you choose adheres to these standards, you can be sure that the material is well-made and will withstand the elements.
As we’ve outlined above in our by state and territory regulations breakdown, rules around fence heights vary from state to state. For this reason, it’s best to check with your local council before you begin the process of building a fence and even seeking out materials.
You’ll want to make sure your ideal fence complies with your local rules. Some councils will not let you build a fence until you have permission.
As you can see, fencing standards and laws are complex and vary according to your location and the type of fence you’re building.
Speak to your local council. A fencing builder will also be able to help you gain council approval, taking the stress out of having a fence installed.