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Building Codes for Fences in Washington State

Noel Shankel

Fences in the state of Washington can vary in size depending on the building codes within a particular municipality. Fencing laws and requirements are designed to ensure that all fences are constructed in a safe manner and do not obstruct the views of other residents. Those who construct a fence for any purpose should always check the building codes that apply ahead of time. A poorly designed fence can lead to unwanted accidents and injuries.

Livestock Fences

Under the guidelines of the Revised Codes of Washington (RCW) Section 16.60.010, all fences constructed to maintain livestock must meet certain specifications. Lawful fences for livestock must contain at least four barbed horizontal wires. The top wire must be at least 48 inches from ground level, the third must be 32 inches, the second 22 inches and the first 12 inches from the ground. All barbed-wire fence posts must be planted firmly in the ground. The posts must be positioned no more than 24 feet apart from each other.

Swimming Pool Fences

Different municipalities have their own building codes in regard to swimming pool fences in Washington. For example, Section 11.12.040 of the Spokane Municipal Code states that all residential swimming pools must be enclosed by a fence at all times. The fence must be at least 4 feet in height, and must be approved by a building inspector. The fence itself may not contain any openings that would allow a child to crawl through or underneath. Fences made out of wood must be built in a manner that prevents children from climbing over them. Any gate attached to the pool fence must have a self-closing latch. These laws were passed on August 17, 1987 and went into effect on September 16, 1987.

Residential Fences

Residential fences in Washington have their own set of regulations depending on the municipality. Under the guidelines of the Bonney Lake Residential Development Standards Section 18.22.020, fences in the front yard cannot exceed a height of 4 feet. Residents are not allowed to construct electric fences or barbed-wire fences adjacent to a property line. Those looking to build a fence on, or near, the property line must first get written permission to do so from their neighbor. All fences built must not obstruct vision for motorists.