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Australian Fencing Standards and Laws

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.

Read: Everything you need to know about finding a pool fence installer

What are Australian Standards?

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.

Pool fencing standards and facts

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:

  • Pool gates must be mounted, so that they swing out or away from the pool zone. They should also be self-closing, so the gate closes and latches after being opened.
  • Pool gate latches should be at least 1.5 metres off the ground or enclosed if below 1.5 metres.
  • The height of pool fences and gates should be at least 1.2 metres.
  • The gap between vertical pickets shouldn’t be more than 100 millimetres.
  • There should be absolutely no climbable objects or structures within 900mm of pool fencing.
  • All fencing and gates should have a child safety lock.

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.

Australian fencing standards

Read: How much does pool fencing cost?

Dividing fences

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.

Dividing fences

Dividing fence regulations by state

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - New South Wales

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - Victoria

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - Queensland

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:

  • Fence is associated with a residential house
  • Less than two metres high
  • Not a swimming pool fence
  • Is not a retaining wall
  • Would not restrict water run-off from property

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - ACT

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - NT

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - Western Australia

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.

Dividing fence rules and standards - Tasmania

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:

  • The fence height exceeds 1.2 metres and is within 4.5 metres of a frontage.
  • The height of your fence is beyond 4.5 metres of frontage and is higher than 2.1 metres.
  • Your property is on a corner and has more than one frontage.

Dividing fence rules and standards - South Australia

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:

  • Masonry fences that exceed one metre
  • Any other fence higher than two metres
  • Fences higher than one metre and less than six metres from a road’s intersection
  • Brush fences

General standards for fencing materials

General standards for fencing materials

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.

Read: How much does fencing cost?

Fence height facts

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.

Making sense of fencing standards and laws

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.

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