Do I need a permit to build or replace a fence?
Broward and Palm Beach County’s Building Departments, as well as all the cities within them (e.g. City of Fort Lauderdale Building Department) require a permit to build a fence. In some cases minor repairs under a certain dollar value may not require a permit.
But what if I am only replacing an existing fence?
A permit is still required for replacing an existing fence. It does not matter if the new fence is of the same material as the old one. For example, an old wood fence being replaced with a new wood fence would still require a permit.
Why do I need a permit?
You need a permit to make sure the fence design, size, scale, and material meet or exceed the code requirements. We live in a high velocity hurricane zone and the codes are periodically updated to assure that fences are able to withstand certain amounts of wind. In short it is for your protection.
How long does it take to get a fence permit?
The amount of time varies by building department. Once the permit is submitted it can be as little as a day (rarely) but can also take a month or more (also rare.) Usually it is between a week-and-a-half and two weeks. Remember, however, usually there are other things that have to be accomplished before the permit can be submitted. Those may include filing a notice of commencement and obtaining easement waivers, for example.
Can I file for a permit on my own?
You can file for your own permit in all communities located in Broward and Palm Beach Counties as an “owner-builder” if you are the owner of the residential property. If it is not something you have done however, you should not undertake it lightly. There are multiple requirements to complete in order to have a permit application accepted. Some of them include filing a notice of commencement, getting waivers from easement holders (utilities), in some cases providing an approval letter from your Home Owners Association, and even obtaining a permit first from a drainage district.
For wood and chain-link fencing, a prescriptive drawing showing how the fence will be built and what the fence will be constructed of is required. For an aluminum fence and for PVC/ vinyl fencing, engineer drawings are required, verifying that the materials used and how the fence will be constructed, will meet the wind-load and other requirements.
At Ace we have a dedicated permit clerk to take care of all permitting requirements for you. Beware of a contractor who requires you to get the permit. Only licensed contractors are allowed to apply for permits and therefore it would be likely that the contractor is unlicensed. That means that the contractor did not take or pass a licensing examination and that authorities can’t track if they have liability or worker’s compensation insurance.
How much does a fence permit cost?
Every city and county has differing formulas regarding how permit costs are calculated. Some are based in part on the value of the fence job, some base it on the value of the property being improved, and there are other variables. There is a wide range locally from about $100 to as much as $1500. The average amount is between $200 – $400.
The exact cost can’t be known in advance. At Ace, our proposals state “Permit Costs Extra” instead of a dollar amount. We pay the costs when obtaining the permit and are reimbursed by our customer at the end of the project. The only fees payable to Ace are for delivery and pickup of the documents to the city or county and those costs are generally under $100.
Since it can’t cost you more than $100 in addition to what you would pay if you were to get your own permit, and considering the time and complexity involved, we recommend taking advantage of our expertise and allowing us to get the permit for you.
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