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The Indiana State Building Codes for a Wood Fence

Danielle Hill

You might want to build a wooden fence to restrict the entrance of wild and predatory animals, to retain your own animals and livestock or simply to delineate your property. Whatever the case, if you're planning to build a fence in Indiana, check that your plans comply with all pertinent codes. Throughout the state, the Indiana Code follows regulations put forward by the International Building Code. In addition, municipal and local codes typically set up and enforce their own regulations on wooden fences. If you live in a rural or agricultural area, additional Indiana codes might also restrict how you build your wooden fence.

International Building Code

In Indiana, both state and local codes regulate wooden fences.

The International Building Code regulates the installation, structure, foundation and type of ground for all outdoor walls, including wooden fences. Only a licensed engineer may verify that the fence meets code. All wooden fences must support their own weight, plus the load of snowfall or other live, or intermittent, loads. In addition, you must construct the wood fence on ground that is capable of supporting its weight without any sliding or shearing of soil or rock. The earth directly next to the wall should slope to foster water drainage.

Local Ordinances

Many Indiana towns and cities have local ordinances and laws to restrict the manner of erecting wooden fences. In the city of Valparaiso, Indiana, you may build a wood fence along the side or the back of your yard, to measure between 3 and 6 feet in height. If built in the front yard, your fence must be at least 6 inches away from any public sidewalks. It must be 4 feet tall or less. If your lot abuts streets on more than one side, each of the street-facing yards counts as a front yard. Regardless of the fencing plan, you must submit a permit application, clearly depicting the intended fence layout and dimensions, before erecting any structures. In the city of East Chicago, Indiana, wooden fences may be made of pickets, split rail or solid wooden boards. All fences, wooden and otherwise, must be maintained in good condition, free from decay or rot, non-toxic and non-hazardous.

Indiana Line Fence Law

If you live on agricultural land, outside corporate town or city limits, you may have a responsibility to install a partition fence to separate your land from neighbors' lands. Agricultural lands include those areas used for raising livestock or growing crops as well as land that is protected for conservation. Each neighbor has an obligation to build one half of the partition fence that adjoins with neighboring properties. If a neighbor refuses to build the corresponding part of the fencing after receiving a written request to do so, you may bring complaints before the local township trustee.