The New York City Construction Codes outline the requirements for installing fences and backyard sheds. In limited cases, work plans, and permits are required.
Applications for fences may be filed with a PW1 form by checking Box 6D and entering Fence Not Temp. However, as per 1 RCNY §101-14, for one- and two-family dwellings, the Department does not require permits for fences 6 feet or less in height and homeowners may install their own fencing. 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 §3112.1
Residential front yard fences: 4 feet, ZR §23-44
Residential side of corner lot: 6 feet, ZR §23-44
Other locations such as in playgrounds, taller fences may be allowed. Please see the NYC Building Code and NYC Zoning Resolution. The Landmarks Preservation Commission must give approval and/or issue permits for work on landmarked properties.
In all cases, it is recommended that a licensed land surveyor be hired to be sure the fence will be inside the property line. If an owner hires someone to install a fence, the owner should be sure the individual is a licensed Home Improvement Contractor (HIC). The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issues HIC licenses. Owners can check if the HIC they intend to hire is licensed by calling 311 or visiting DCA's Instant License Check.
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.
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.