Jan 31, 2022 12:17:59 PM | 6 Min Read

What to Know About Zoning Laws for Backyard Fences (in Indianapolis)

Posted By HOA Fence
What to Know About Zoning Laws for Backyard Fences (in Indianapolis)

If something's on your property, you can do whatever you want with it, right? Not quite. There are zoning laws, and regulations property owners need to follow to comply with building codes and other requirements, and they vary by state, county, and municipality. In some cases, zoning laws are in place to help preserve the historical character of a neighborhood. In other instances, laws exist to protect people and ensure safety.

If you're considering installing a fence around your Indianapolis home, get to know the fence zoning laws in this area before starting your project.

What Are Zoning Laws?

Zoning laws determine how specific plots of land can be used and what types of structures can be built on the land. For example, some areas are zoned for residential use, while some are zoned for businesses. Without changing the zoning of an area, you can't put a business on land zoned for residences, nor can you build a home in an area zoned for business use.

Zoning laws also determine how large the structures in a zone can be. Structures include buildings, such as houses, and features such as fences. If you try to build a home or apartment building that's too large for the zoned area, you can run into trouble. The same is true if your fence exceeds the maximum size.

Fence Location and Height

Under Indianapolis' municipal code, a fence or other structural barrier can't be more than six feet tall. The height of the fence is measured from the ground to the top of the fence.

While the fence itself needs to be no more than six feet in height, the fence posts can be up to one foot taller than the rest of the fence. There are some exceptions to the six-foot height limit. If the fence is in the front yard, it can't be taller than 42 inches.

Indianapolis's zoning laws also describe where you can place a fence on a property. You can put a fence up to the lot line. If you're building a fence in a mixed-use or dwelling district, it can be situated within one foot of the sidewalk on a collector or local street, as long as it doesn't encroach on the right-of-way.

Fence Appearance and Material

Generally speaking, when installing a privacy fence, you have full say over the type of material you choose, whether metal, wood, or vinyl. However, the zoning laws in Indianapolis do place some restrictions on the fence’s appearance.

For example, you can't install a fence with barbed or razor wire along the top in a residential district. It's also against the code to install an electrified fence in most residential districts. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as using the fence for agriculture.

If you live in a historic district, you might have to get approval before installing the fence. Usually, that means applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness before beginning the project.

Fence Purpose

Some zoning laws apply to fences used for specific purposes. For example, if you are installing a fence around a swimming pool, it needs to have a self-latching gate that closes independently. A swimming pool fence must also be strong enough to protect people and animals.

In Indiana, you can't put up a fence out of spite or get revenge on a neighbor. The state's code prohibits the construction of "spite fences," which are taller than six feet. If the fence is put up maliciously or poorly maintained, it qualifies as a spite fence. If someone builds a spite fence, their neighbor can sue for damages caused by the fence.

HOAs & Zoning Laws

It's also worth noting that your neighborhood might have additional rules or requirements for fences beyond the city's or state's zoning laws. For example, some homeowners associations (HOAs) specify the type of material you can use for your fence. You might only be allowed to put up an aluminum or vinyl fence, not a wooden one. In addition to reviewing local zoning laws before you start a fence project, it's a good idea to touch base with your HOA to find out what you can and can't do.

What Happens If There's a Problem?

If you have concerns about your fence or a neighbor's fence, the best thing to do is usually to speak to them about it. The city usually won't do anything if another person's fence is on your property or if their fence falls over into your yard. Your HOA can also be an excellent resource for resolving any fence-related issues with your neighbors.

Working with a fence installation company familiar with the Indianapolis area and with HOA requirements ensures your fence project goes smoothly. Contact HOA Affordable Fence for a quote today.

Contact Us for a Quote Today

Topics: Fence, Tips, Privacy

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