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Fence and Retaining Walls, Permits and Information


When is a Fence Permit Required?

A fence permit is required to install any type of fence in Montgomery County.  Replacement of an existing fence, ORIGINALLY INSTALLED WITH A FENCE PERMIT, with the same kind of fence in the same location at the same height, does not require a fence permit.

If an existing fence was not installed with a fence permit, the replacement fence must have a fence permit.

Please note that beginning January 9th, 2017 all fence permit applications and plan submittals will be required to use eServices. Classes in the use of eServices are offered each Monday at 9 a.m. at DPS offices located at 255 Rockville Pike 2nd fl. Rockville Maryland. You can also click on the green eServices tab on the DPS homepage or email dps.eservices@montgomerycountymd.gov for additional information and assistance.

When is a Retaining Wall Permit Required?

A permit is required to install a retaining wall if the height of the wall measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall is over 48 inches unless supporting a surcharge.

Per the 2015 International Residential Code, section R404, retaining walls that retain in excess of 48 inches of unbalanced soil or retaining walls exceeding 24 inches in height that retain additional loads in addition to the unbalanced soil shall be designed by a Maryland State Licensed Design Professional to ensure stability against overturning, sliding, excessive foundation pressure and water uplift. Retaining walls shall be designed for a safety factor of 1.5 against lateral sliding and overturning.

If you are unsure if you need a permit call 311 (240-777-0311) if calling from outside of Montgomery County).

What are the Restrictions for Type, Height and Location?

Measurement of Height:  Fence or wall height is measured from the lowest level of the grade under the fence or abutting a wall.

Height and Placement: The maximum height of a fence or wall is 6' 6". Except as follows:

  • A fence, wall other than retaining wall, terrace, structure, shrubbery, planting, or other visual obstruction on a corner lot in a Residential zone can be a maximum height of 3 feet above the curb level for a distance of 15 feet from the intersection of the front and side street lines.
  • A deer fence on a corner lot in a Residential zone must not be located closer to the street than the face of the building.
  • A wall or fence must not be located within any required drainage, utility or similar easement, unless approved by the agency with jurisdiction over the easement.

Exemptions from Building Line and Setbacks:

  • Building line and setback requirements do not apply to: deer fencing in an Agricultural or Rural Residential zone; or behind the front building line for property in a non-Agricultural or non-Rural Residential zone unless the property adjoins a national historical park.
  • A retaining wall where changes in street grade, width, or alignment have made such structures necessary;
  • Any other wall or fence that is 6.5 feet or less in height and is not on a property abutting a national historic park;
  • A rustic fence on a property abutting a national historical park;
  • Any boundary fence behind the front building line if the property is located within 100 feet of a parking lot in a national historical park; and
  • Deer fencing and any other fence that 8 feet or less in height if the property is farmed and agriculturally assessed.

A permit application for a fence or retaining wall installed on the property line must be accompanied by a letter of approval from the adjacent property owner. Occasionally, lot conditions require approvals from other agencies such as easement holders, or homeowner associations.

A fence/retaining wall is considered an accessory structure if it exceeds the height of 6' 6"  Accessory Setbacks will be applied to those structures as needed.

Restrictions are very specific for fences used as swimming pool enclosures and those may be found in Chapter 51 of the Montgomery County Code.

The fence permit/retaining wall building permit is limited to the applicants property as indicated on the approved site plan.  Any dispute as to whether a fence has extended into a neighbors property or questions about the location of property lines is a legal matter to be resolved by the property owners.

What is the Residential Walk Thru/Fast Track Permit Process?

This process was developed to obtain building permits for eligible projects while you wait. If the application meets these guidelines and all applicable legislation, in most cases, you will leave with the permit after a single visit in a timely manner. If the application cannot be completely processed, it will be returned to your team with partial approvals. If the application is for a complex design, structural modifications, or unusual design, it will require extensive reviews. Therefore, the application will be taken in for regular review process. Applications must be on the Residential Walk-Thru Fast Track Queue before 2:30 PM - otherwise applications may not be reviewed by the building plan reviewers while you wait and applications would be taken in for regular review process.  

What is a Deer Fence?

A fence that is up to 8 feet high and constructed of an open mesh, heavy weight, plastic or similar material that allows a clear view through the fence. Mesh size ranges from 1.5 x 1.5inches to 2 x 2.75 inches. A deer fence may be constructed with wood, metal, or fiberglass posts. Deer fences must be made of the above material only.

A deer fence can be constructed in any side or back yard provided that there are no local community or Home Owner Association restrictions or covenants in your neighborhood.  On corner lots in residential zones the side yard fence may not extend farther forward than the front of the house

Inspection.

Fences are typically not inspected unless they are used as a swimming pool barrier. All swimming pool barriers must be inspected and approved prior to using the pool. If your fence is to be used as a barrier for a new or existing swimming pool please make note of this at the time of application. Typically the fence is permitted along with the swimming pool and does not require a separate permit. If you are applying for a separate fence permit to surround a swimming pool please be sure to note this on your application.

Application Package
Application Residential Building Permit Application
Roadside Tree Affidavit Roadside Tree Affidavit
Fees and Taxes
Fees Executive Regulations
Automation Enhancement Fee Automation Enhancement Fee
Credit Card Authorization Credit Card Authorization Form
Guidelines, Memorandum of Understandings, Interpretations
Swimming Pool Barrier/Fence Requirements BCP11 Swimming Pool Barriers
Titleblock Requirements for Plan Submittal Titleblock Requirements
Inspections
What and When Inspections Are Required Residential Inspections Timing Checklist
Buildings Notice of Required Building Inspections
Decks Notice of Required Residential Deck Inspections
Third Party Third Party Inspections
Scheduling Residential Inspections Page
Frequently Asked Questions
Online Permitting Status Information and Inspections
Online Data Search Search DPS Database
Call for More Information
In Montgomery County 311
Outside of Montgomery County 240-777-0311
Other Agencies to Contact
Other Agencies and Utilities to Contact Allegheny Power
  American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. (BG&E)
  Board of Appeals
  Historical Preservation
  International Code Council (ICC)
  Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
  Maryland Department of the Environment
  Maryland Division of State Documents
  Masonry Institute of America (MIA)
  Miss Utility
  National Glass Association (NGA)
  MNCPPC: Historic Area Work Permits
  MNCPPC: MC Atlas
  MNCPPC: Zoning
  Municipalities
  National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO)
  Recycling
  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
  Verizon
  Washington Gas Light Co.
  WSSC