Fences and Backyard Sheds


The New York City Construction Codes outline the requirements for installing fences and backyard sheds. In limited cases, work plans, and permits are required.


The Department of Buildings doesn't require property owners to hire an architect or engineer, provide design plans or have a work permit to install a fence. Homeowners may install their own fencing – but if you're hiring someone to do it, be sure it's a home improvement contractor licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Use DCA's Instant License Check. In addition, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must give approval and/or issue permits for work on landmarked properties.

Residential and commercial fences for privacy are typically made of wood, plastic, brick, or chain link. The NYC Building Code generally allows a maximum fence height of 10 feet, and the NYC Zoning Resolution outlines additional height limits:

  • Residential Districts: 6 feet, BC §3111.1
  • Residential Front Yard Fences: 4 feet, ZR §23-44
  • Residential Side of Corner Lot: 6 feet, ZR §23-44
In certain other locations, such as in playgrounds, taller fences may be allowed. Please see the NYC Building Code and NYC Zoning Resolution.

Construction Fences

Protect yourself before installing a fence. Hire a licensed land surveyor to be sure the fencing will be inside your property line. For construction site fences, see NYC Building Code §3307.7.

Backyard Sheds

Storage sheds are permitted in rear yards only. Prefabricated and custom-built sheds are regulated the same way under New York City law. Homeowners may not need to submit work plans to the Department of Buildings or secure work permits to install a backyard shed – unless it will be within three feet of the property line. If so, the work plans must show the shed is built with non-flammable materials and meets size requirements.

The Rules of the City of New York §101-14 requires that backyard sheds meet the following requirements:

  • Size: Up to 120 square feet – no permits needed.  Above 121 square feet – plans, approval, and permits required
  • Height: Maximum 7 feet 6 inches
  • Materials: Sheds made of flammable materials must be at least 3 feet from the property line.
  • Installation: Sheds may not be permanently affixed to the land.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission must give approval and/or issue permits for work on landmarked properties. Visit the Landmarks Preservation Commission for more information.

Construction Site Sheds

This information does not apply to construction site sheds or shanties. See NYC Building Code Chapter 33 for these structures and to learn about sidewalk sheds. You may also read the Winterizing Construction Sites and Sidewalk Sheds.