Do I need a permit to install a fence?
Greenville, South Carolina is a beautiful town with a rich history and Native American Indian heritage dating back to the civil war. One hundred-year-old oak trees laden with Spanish moss line the downtown streets. The town has become a popular place to reside and continues to grow its population.
With growing populations comes the need for building codes and their enforcement. One of the most common questions among home-owners is the permit requirements for fencing.
Greenville city currently does not impose any permit requirements for the installation of fences. However there are some basic rules to follow when installing fences in residential neighborhoods. It is also a good idea to call the local building or zoning department for Greenville, SC to be absolutely sure of set-back regulations for your particular plot of land. Some wet-land areas may carry additional restrictions for fencing.
The following information was accessed and copied directly from the county's website.
Fence installations do not require permits; however, fence locations and heights must comply with provisions established in Table 19-5.2-1 (see below), Features Allowed Within Required Setbacks. Fences may be installed on property lines; however, their height and opacity (light obscuring quality) is limited. Fences within side and rear yards may be opaque (solid) to a height of 7 feet; above that height, fences may be semi-opaque. Fences within front yards may be opaque to a height of only 30 inches. A "yard" is defined as the lot area between the building and the lot line.
This information was last updated September 29, 2012 on this site.
Sec. 19-5.2. - Definitions/measurement.
Lot area. Lot area refers to the amount of horizontal land area contained inside the lot lines of a lot or site. Public rights-of-way shall not be included in calculating minimum lot area, except where specifically allowed by this chapter.
A lot supporting a residential use may include public right-of-way in calculating minimum lot area or maximum density provided the lot adjoins curb lawn(s) as defined in the Design and Specifications Manual having a minimum depth (measured parallel with the right-of-way) of four feet pursuant to the following:
The portion of the curb lawn that may be included in the minimum lot area shall be contained within the right-of-way between the streetside line of the sidewalk (or edge of right-of-way/front property line if no sidewalk is present) and a line parallel therewith that represents the streetside boundary of the curb lawn exceeding the four feet minimum depth as measured along the lot width (projected from the intersection of the side lot lines and the right-of-way), inclusive of driveway(s).
This provision shall apply to curb lawns exceeding the four feet minimum depth (measured parallel with the right-of-way) within all rights-of-way abutting corner and double frontage lots.
This provision shall not affect any other dimensional standard, definition, or measurement established by this Ordinance.
This provision shall not affect the city's rights and privileges to use, or allow the use of, the right-of-way referenced in this provision for all intended purposes. Routine maintenance of the curb lawn shall be the responsibility of the lot owner utilizing this provision.
Lot width. Lot width refers to the horizontal distance between side lot lines. Lot width shall be measured as the distance between the side lot lines as measured at the front setback line.
Lot depth. Lot depth refers to the average horizontal distance between the front lot line and the rear lot line.
Minimum lot dimensions/setbacks.
General. Any lot that is created, developed, used, or occupied shall meet the minimum lot area, width, and coverage requirements set forth in this chapter for the zoning district in which it is located. The setback line establishes the required minimum distance of any permitted structure from a property line.
Setback, front. A setback that extends across the full width of a site, the depth of which is the distance between the front property line and the furthermost projection of a building or structure along a line parallel with the front lot line, excluding allowable projections set forth in subsection 19-5.2.7.
The administrator shall establish a front setback for a single-family dwelling that is less, or greater, than the otherwise required front setback in order to maintain the existing pattern of front yards established by the principal uses contiguous to, and on either side of, the dwelling (if the front yards of the neighboring uses are not the same, the administrator shall establish a setback that represents the average of the two neighboring yards).
The administrator may reduce the otherwise required front, rear, and side setbacks for residential and nonresidential principal uses by an amount not to exceed ten percent of the otherwise required minimum to accommodate the following: a requirement of a decision-making body or other administrator; a policy of the city council; the maintenance of an urban development pattern established for the neighborhood; the presence of a curb lawn exceeding the otherwise required minimum depth (reduction in front setback only on a foot-per-foot basis); and the protection of natural features such as trees and waterways.
Setback, rear. A setback that extends across the full width of a site, the depth of which is the distance between the rear property line and the furthermost projection of a building or structure along a line parallel with the rear lot line, excluding allowable projections set forth in subsection 19-5.2.7.
Setback, side. A setback on that portion of a lot that is not adjacent to a private or public street. It extends from the rear of the required front setback, or the front property line of the site where no front setback is required, to the front of the required rear setback, or the rear property line where no rear setback is required, the width of which is the distance between the side property line and a line parallel thereto on the site.
Multiple-family developments. Multiple-family developments (such as townhouses, apartments) do not have internal setback requirements. However, the appropriate setbacks prescribed for the zoning district in which the development is located shall be applied to the external boundaries of the overall development lot or site.
Visibility at intersections and driveways. At each location formed by the intersection of two streets or a driveway and a street (except within the C-4 district), a sight triangle as defined in article XI shall be maintained. Within the sight triangle no fence, wall, sign or other structure, no slope or embankment, no parked vehicle, no hedge, foliage or other planting, and no other object shall be placed, erected, or maintained that would obstruct visibility between a height of three feet and nine feet measured vertically from the ground level at the pavement.
Features allowed within required setbacks. Driveways, walkways, on-grade patios, in-ground pools, plants, retaining walls, pergolas, arbors, and other landscape features may be located within any required setback. In addition, the following table lists features that may be located within any required setbacks, subject to the specific limitations noted:
Table 19-5.2-1: Features Allowed Within Required Setbacks
Feature That May Encroach Into SetbackLimitationEave, sill, cornice, or ornamental featureMay project up to 18 inches into any required setback.Bay windows, chimneys, and similar features projecting from the principal buildingMay encroach up to 2 feet into any required setback for the property, but no closer than 3 feet to the side or rear property line or buffer.Open porches, balconies, breezeways, and similar features (may be roofed but not enclosed except with screenwire mesh); raised patios, decks, and similar features (30 inches or more above the lowest adjacent grade measured at base)May encroach into a required setback for the property, but no closer than 12 feet to the front property line or buffer and no closer than 5 feet to the side or rear property line or buffer.Steps, fences, wallsSubject to the provisions of subsection 19-5.2.8(A), may be constructed up to the property line provided a fence or wall in a side yard or rear yard shall not be opaque above a height of 7 feet and a fence or wall in a front yard shall not be opaque above a height of 30 inches. (Height is measured from the finished grade at the base of the fence or wall.)
Corner lots and double frontage lots. On corner and double frontage lots, the front setback requirement shall be met on all street frontages of the property. Where one of the front yards that would normally be required on a corner or double frontage lot is not in keeping with the prevailing yard pattern, the administrator may waive the requirement for the normal front yard and substitute therefore a special yard requirement, which shall not be less than the required side setback. Side and rear setbacks shall be determined based upon both the orientation of the lot and upon the orientation of structures built or to be built on the lot.
Fences or walls located within a yard adjacent to a street approved by the administrator as not constituting a front yard shall comply with the following requirements:
Fences and walls constructed up to, and parallel with, the property line shall not exceed a height of 30 inches.
Fences and walls constructed within 3 feet, and parallel with, the property line shall not exceed a height of 6 feet and shall not be opaque above a height of 30 inches. In addition, the fence/wall shall be screened with evergreen buffer vegetation pursuant to the provisions of section 19-6.2, landscaping, buffering, and screening.
Fences and walls constructed within 5 feet, and parallel with, the property line shall not be opaque above a height of 6 feet and shall be screened with evergreen buffer vegetation pursuant to the provisions of section 19-6.2, landscaping, buffering, and screening.
General. Building height is the vertical distance measured from the average elevation of the proposed finished grade at the front of the building to the highest point of the coping of a flat roof, to the deck line of a mansard roof, or to the mean height level between the eaves and ridge of a gable, hip, or gambrel roof.
Exceptions. Spires, belfries, cupolas, chimneys, antennas, water tanks, ventilators, elevator housings, mechanical equipment or other such structures placed above the roof level and not intended for human occupancy shall not be subject to height limitations.
Building height increases.
General. With the exception of single-family dwellings, buildings may exceed the base height allowed in certain zoning districts if the minimum rear setbacks and the minimum side setbacks required for the district are increased one foot for each three feet by which the height of building exceeds the maximum height pursuant to Table 19-5.1-1, table of dimensional standards.
High-rise apartments. No portion of a high-rise apartment shall project through imaginary planes leaning inward over the lot from the side and rear lot lines of the lot at angles representing six feet in height for each one foot of horizontal distance from such lot lines.
Lot coverage.. Lot coverage is the area of a lot which may be covered by all buildings on a lot except that parking structures shall not count toward maximum lot coverage.
High-rise apartments. High-rise apartments may exceed the otherwise-required maximum lot coverage provided the structure above the first floor level includes landscaped roof garden(s), solarium(s), recreational space(s), or the like designed to accommodate the building occupants on a "square foot per square foot" basis to an amount not to exceed 35 percent of the total square footage of the lot.
General. The developer of a residential subdivision having a minimum area of two acres may request that the planning commission approve a major subdivision as a cluster subdivision wherein the dimensional requirements of the lots may be reduced provided that:
The total number of lots shall not exceed the total number of lots otherwise permitted in the district in which they are located; and
The remaining land area not included within streets, easements, floodway, or recreational structures shall be dedicated to permanent open space.
Dimensional requirements. With the exception of building height, there are no minimum dimensional requirements (lot size, lot width, maximum lot coverage, and internal (within the development) setbacks). At locations adjoining uses external to the development, permitted uses shall comply with the otherwise-required setbacks. The preliminary and final plats shall reflect the proposed and approved dimensional requirements respectively.
Open space requirements.
The land area offered for open space shall constitute a minimum of 25 percent of the total acreage of the tract (and not less than one-half acre).
Ownership of the open space shall remain either with the developer or be conveyed to:
A homeowners' association or other legal entity under the laws of South Carolina;
The City of Greenville (upon approval of the city council);
A public jurisdiction or agency (upon its approval); or
A nonprofit or quasi-public organization whose purpose is the protection and conservation of open space (upon its approval).
Maintenance of the land as permanent open space shall be ensured via the recordation of covenants or similar documents with the county registrar of deeds and noted (or referenced) on the final plat. This documentation shall also prescribe the nature and extent of continuing maintenance to the open space designed to preclude the creation of any nuisances.
(Ord. No. 2007-52, 7-9-07; Ord. No. 2008-69, 10-13-08; Ord. No. 2009-22, § 1(exh. A), 3-23-09; Ord. No. 2009-45, Exh., 6-8-09; Ord. No. 2011-45, 5-23-11)
©2013 Steve West. Not to be duplicated without written consent of content author.
Steve West (author) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on October 01, 2012:
Thank you Faith Reaper, yes those restrictions are one of thousands of pages of do's and do nots. I'm glad I don't write that stuff. Read ya' later.
Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 01, 2012:
Greenville sounds lovely. Wow, those are a great many restrictions. Interesting hub. Voted up, interesting and useful. In His Love, Faith Reaper
Steve West (author) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 30, 2012:
Hi billybuc, We have these special inspectors in my neighborhood, they are called "nosy neighbors." They watch everything you do and if you're doing something wrong they are going to bust you. Thanks for the comment as always billybuc, read ya' later.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 29, 2012:
Nice job Steve, for this very detailed hub about restrictions and requirements. We have to have a permit for any building of any kind here in Olympia; of course, most people ignore that when building things like a fence, but if caught they face a fine.
Steve West (author) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 29, 2012:
Same here in SC bravewarrior, permit for everything. As a part-time builder I agree with the necessity however sometimes it can be a bit....for lack of better words, ridiculous. It is usually an efficient process if you have a good reputation among the inspectors. Ultimately the rules are for the benefit and safety of everyone I guess. Thank you for the comment bravewarrior, read ya' soon.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 29, 2012:
I don't know about SC, but in Florida, anytime you build a structure or add onto an existing structure, you need a permit. If you have a permit, you require an inspection. That should put your mind at ease that the structure is up to code. There are some areas where it behooves us to acquiesce.
Steve West (author) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 29, 2012:
Thank you tillsontitan, this was one of those "exclusive" hub title offers I read about.I thought I would give it a try. It is not my normal cup o' tea for writing but it is an opportunity to learn something new. At least if I move to Greenville I'll be good on fencing reg's. Thanks for the vote.
Mary Craig from New York on September 29, 2012:
While I understand and mostly agree with building codes some do get ridiculous. However, they are definitely here to stay. I'm sure the folks in Greenville will especially appreciate this hub.
Voted up and interesting.