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Essential Rules for Building Fences in Rural Victoria.

The journey of putting up a fence around your rural property in Victoria can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. As a property owner, you probably have a vision of a safe and beautiful fence. But, you might be feeling a bit worried about potential challenges in making this happen, especially how and where to start this process. 


The thought of dealing with property details, legal stuff, and working with different professionals might feel like a lot. The fear of making mistakes during this process that could cause delays or unexpected problems is completely understandable. As Stock & Noble, experts, we share and recognise these concerns, understanding that every rural property is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. 


Over the years we’ve helped our clients create signature properties across Australia and New Zealand. Dealing with the ins and outs of fencing, we know how crucial it is to get things right from the start. 


In this blog, we will guide you through the important rules and things you should consider, before building a fence on your rural property in Victoria. Our goal is to make your journey smoother by giving you clear, useful information. 


We’ll explain the not-so-easy parts about property boundaries, heritage considerations, planning permits, and the roles of different professionals. Whether you’re experienced in building fences or doing this for the first time, this content aims to give you the knowledge to make your fence installation go smoothly and meet all the necessary rules. 


Now, let’s dive into the specific rules you should be aware of before turning your fence-building vision into a reality. 

(Note: The specific rules and regulations for creating a fence on rural property in Victoria, Australia, are governed by local council regulations. Each local council may have its own set of rules regarding fence height, materials, and placement.) 


1) Are Your Boundaries Correct? 

Before breaking ground on your fence project, it’s important to verify that your property boundaries are accurate. Bringing in a surveyor is a wise move, especially if the property has undergone fence replacements. Sometimes as the fence gets replaced a few times, the boundaries get displaced and do not match the original approved lines. 

Discrepancies in boundary alignment, even by 5- 10 centimetres, can have legal implications. 


Watch Out for Heritage Significance: 

Additionally, heritage-listed elements on your property, such as trees or buildings, can affect fence placement. This applies to about 5% of properties. 

Recently, we worked on a property with trees and buildings marked as heritage significant. While this might not directly impact fence installation, it does affect where your fence can go. For example, if you have an old building that’s now heritage-listed, it can’t be removed, and certain trees can’t be touched either. So you have to design your fencing to go around it. 

Ensure you’ve thoroughly checked legal property documents and consulted with the local council to address any heritage-related or other caveat restrictions. 


2. Have you Checked for Overlays and Hidden Services?

Before diving into your fence project, it’s crucial to look out for overlays and hidden services on your property. Overlays can include restrictions or special conditions that affect what you can do with your land. Services, like electricity or sewage lines, can be lurking underground, and you want to avoid any surprises. 


Spotting Overlays in Section 32: 

Start by checking the Section 32 document. This treasure trove of information should outline any overlays or services you need to be mindful of. However, understanding these details might require the keen eye of a professional. 

A surveyor or Dial Before You Dig can help uncover any hidden services and potential complications. It’s like giving your property a thorough check-up before surgery. Knowing where everything is will prevent any hiccups during your fence installation. 


Consulting with the Council: 

If you have concerns about how overlays and services might affect your fence plans, have a chat with your local council and town planning. Often putting your ideas on paper as a sketch and showing what you intend to do is a great starting point. They typically provide this service for free, giving you insights into what you might be up against. 


Consider Legal Assistance: 

If things get a bit legally complex, consider reaching out to a conveyancer or town planner privately. They work faster than the council and understand the local area nuances, helping you decide if you need a planning permit for your fence project. Their expertise can be invaluable in expediting the process and making sure you have all the necessary permits in place. 


3. Do You Need a Planning Permit?

The next step in fencing is to find out about planning permits. These are like official nods you might need from the authorities to make sure everything is in order. 


Brick Piers and Height Considerations: 

If you plan to add fancy brick piers to your entranceway or a substantial structure above a certain height, you will need a planning permit. The rules apply to things like retaining walls too, depending on their height. In Victoria, you will need a permit if you are building a masonry structure above 1 metre. 

When it is built of masonry like brick and stone etc. it can’t be over 1.2 metres in most states except in WA you will need a permit for it to be over 700mm. Some front fence regulations require 30% transparency if you are to build 1.2m high. 


Details of the Permit: 

A planning permit isn’t just a simple approval; it’s a comprehensive package deal. It includes the specifics of footings or foundations, and you’ll need engineering drawings to show how these footings and fence will be constructed. 

Here’s where the town planner’s expertise is required. They’re like the architects of hassle-free projects. You have two options here: 

Full Package with a Town Planner: 

The town planner can handle everything for you. From getting all the engineering drawings to submitting the whole proposal to the council. It’s like having a project manager who takes care of everything. 

DIY with a Civil Engineer: 

Or, if you’re feeling hands-on, you can do it yourself. Talk to a civil engineer for those crucial drawings, lean on the Local Council Town Planning department for direction and guidance, and then submit your proposal to the council. It’s a bit like being the captain of your ship. 


Town Planners in Action: 

Whether you rely on a town planner’s expertise or take charge yourself, ensuring you have the right permit is the key to a successful and compliant fence installation on your rural property in Victoria. 


4. Do You Know the Approval Process Timelines?

Securing approval from the council is a necessary step in your fence-building project. Council approval typically takes 6 to 8 weeks. It’s like waiting for the official thumbs-up before you can proceed with your project. 

However, this timeframe might stretch if the council needs to make amendments to your submission. It’s a bit like going back to the drawing board to make sure everything aligns perfectly with their requirements. 


Replacing an Existing Fence Vs a New: 

If you’re just swapping out an old fence with a new one, like going from a barbed wire fence to a sleek post and rail design, it’s a smoother ride. In such cases, you can replace it without waiting for fresh approval. It’s like a quick upgrade without jumping through too many hoops. 

But, if your plans involve adding features like brick entranceways, and pillars, or if your property has heritage status, easements, or specific restrictions (known as caveats), you’re in for the council approval process. 

This process ensures that your new elements align with the rules and regulations set by the council. It is like the official stamp of acceptance. While it takes a bit of time, especially if there are changes needed, it’s a crucial step to ensure that your project aligns with the regulations. 


5) Have You Engaged a Fencing Contractor? 

If you haven’t teamed up with a fencing contractor yet, it’s time to do so. Think of them as your project teammate – someone who knows the ins and outs of building fences. Getting them on board early is like having a guide from the start. 

A good fencing contractor can make your entire project run smoothly and is capable of handling about 90% of the tasks we’ve discussed so far. Coordination is key. So work closely with your contractor, and bring them up to speed on the plan. Make sure they understand what needs to be done and that they follow the game plan. 

Imagine you’re adding fancy brick entranceways – your contractor needs to be in sync. If there’s any footings or foundations involved there is likely to be inspections to be booked in to certify the work. You need to allow adequate time for this. 


Following the Rules: 

Remember, the rules to follow are all laid out in the council permit. Your fencing contractor needs to stick to these rules. 

From understanding the plan to coordinating with the project timeline and following the rules, fencing contractors play a vital role in making sure your rural property in Victoria gets the fence it deserves. So, at this stage, it’ll be worth learning about how to find the best fencing contractor for your project. 


6) Connected with Dial Before You Dig? 

Before beginning your fence installation, it’s essential to connect with Dial Before You Dig. This step serves as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of your project and should be taken regardless of whether you are installing a new fence or replacing an existing one. It’s important to mark any services as quite often when replacing existing fences, you never use the same post holes. 

The Dial Before You Dig service is a national not-for-profit organisation that can guide you to where services and underground infrastructure are located on your property. They can be reached at www.byda.com.au 

It’s basically gaining insights into what lies beneath the surface. Their process involves marking the ground with lines, providing a visual guide for safe digging. 


Collaboration with Your Fencing Contractor: 

For best results, we recommend a collaborative effort between Dial Before You Dig and your fencing contractor. This coordination ensures a comprehensive understanding of the subsurface landscape, fostering a cooperative approach to safety measures. 

Interestingly, many fencing contractors integrate the Dial Before You Dig service into their contracts. This inclusion acts as an additional safety feature, streamlining the process and ensuring that safety protocols are observed before commencing the project. 

In situations where this service is not included in your contractor’s offerings, there’s no cause for concern. They may guide you to arrange this service independently, before installing the fence. 


Smooth Start to Fence Installation: 

Once all preparations are in place, and the fencing contractor begins the installation, the process should proceed smoothly. Thorough planning and adherence to regulations during the initial stages set the foundation for a successful fence project. 

Now your fencing contractor can follow the plan without any hiccups. Whether they’re adding brick entranceways or setting up foundations, it’s like following a well-made recipe. 


Ready to Start Your Fence Project in Victoria? 

In conclusion, building a fence on a rural property in Victoria demands careful consideration of legal requirements, property specifics, and collaboration with professionals. By following these rules and engaging the right experts, you can ensure a successful and compliant fence installation. 


You now know the specifics, such as verifying property boundaries with a surveyor, considering heritage significance, checking for overlays and hidden services, understanding the planning permit process, and the importance of engaging with a fencing contractor and Dial Before You Dig. 


If you are building the fence yourself, check out our step-by-step guide on how to build post and rail fencing. This resource offers additional insights and practical tips to help you install a fence successfully. 


Armed with the knowledge shared in this blog, you are well-prepared to embark on your fence installation journey. If you have any more questions related to the installation or need help in choosing the right fence for your property, reach out to fencing experts. They will help you every step of the way to build a safe and beautiful property, just the way you imagined.

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