Your rights and responsibilities if you are wanting to build a deck or fence on your property.

Building a deck

Christchurch District Plan

The planning rules for decks vary depending on the zoning of the property and the height of the deck:

  • If the deck is attached to the dwelling in a Residential Suburban, Residential Suburban Density Transition, Residential Hills or Residential Large Lot zone, and is at ground floor level or below, it can be constructed right up to the internal property boundary as long as any parts within 1m of the boundary are 300mm or less in height.
  • If the site is within the Residential Banks Peninsula zone the deck must be set back either 2m or 1.5m from the internal boundary, depending which boundary is involved.
  • In the Residential Small Settlement zone, the deck must be set back 3m, or 2m if your property is in the Spencerville and Kainga overlay areas.
  • If the deck is at first-floor level or above, it must be set back at least 4m from internal boundaries in most Residential zones.
  • In all zones, a larger front yard setback is required which varies depending on the zone.
  • If one of your boundaries is along a stream or waterway you will need to check the waterway setback rules. The setback distance varies depending on the type of waterway. A resource consent is required to build a deck or other similar structure within the waterway setback. 
  • The deck must comply with site coverage (if higher than 800mm or covered/roofed), height and recession plane requirements applicable to the zone.

For more information about the specific rules for your property please contact our Duty Planner

Building code

Decks require a building consent where it is possible to fall more than 1.5 metres so we recommend checking this before you start any building work.

Whether a building consent is required or not, a safety barrier is required where the fall is 1 metre or more.

Building a fence on your property

If you are wanting to build a fence it is best to plan carefully so that your fence adds to your property rather than detracting from it.

The Fencing Act 1978 sets out rights and responsibilities relating to fences between neighbouring properties. You can find out more information from the Consumer building website(external link).

If the fence you are wanting to build is a boundary fence between your property and a Council-owned park or waterway, the Council will generally share the cost of this. Please contact the Council on 03 941 8999 to discuss it before commencing any work.

Height restrictions for building a boundary fence

There are several things you will need to check when thinking about building a boundary fence, as you may need to apply for a resource consent as well as a building consent:

  • A permitted fence height is typically 1.8m on the road boundary and 2m on the side and rear boundaries. There are some exceptions this including in the Character Area Overlay, the Residential New Neighbourhood Zone and the Residential Medium Density zone, where lower and/or visually permeable fence designs are required unless resource consent is otherwise obtained. Also refer to any existing resource consents for the property that may specify fencing requirements. Please contact the Duty Planner for more information.
  • You will need a building consent to build a fence or hoarding over 2.5 metres in height. The 2.5 metres height limit should be measured as the vertical distance between the top of the fence and the supporting ground directly below. You will need a building consent for any fence used to restrict access to a residential pool.

Please note that a fence is required to comply with the building code even if a building consent is not required. Most retailers of fencing materials should be able to assist with standard residential fence design.

Building a fence near a waterway

If the fence will be located close to a stream, river or open drainage channel, there are specific waterway setback rules in the District Plan to consider.  Fences located within the waterway setback must meet the following requirements, otherwise a resource consent will be needed:

  • The fence must be located at least 3m from the bank, or one-third of the District Plan waterway setback distance, whichever is the larger. The waterway setback varies depending on the type of waterway.
  • Access for maintenance purposes needs to be available.
  • The part of the fence within the waterway setback must not be more than 20 per cent solid.

These requirements do not apply where there is a road or esplanade reserve between the waterway and the fence, or where the fence is only temporary and will be in place for less than three months.

For more information, or to find out what waterway setback applies to your property, please contact our Duty Planner

Barbed wire or razor wire fences

The Council Public Places Bylaw 2018 states that barbed wire, razor wire or electrified wire may not be used within one metre of any property boundary adjoining any public place, unless the wire is at a height of 2.5 metres or more above ground level, or the public place is in a rural area.

Internal boundary fences are covered by the Fencing Act 1978.

If the height of the fence is over 2.5 metres, resource consent and a building consent will be required. It is recommended that you contact the Duty Planner on 03 941 8999 if your proposed fence is over this height.

Boundary fence disputes

The Council has no jurisdiction over disputes relating to boundary fences unless the fence is dangerous. Legal rights and obligations relating to fences are covered by the Fencing Act 1978(external link).

If you have a dispute with a neighbour about a fence which you cannot resolve through negotiation (or by using fencing notices) you can take the matter to the Disputes Tribunal, the District Court or alternatively to a mediation service.

The only occasions when the Council may be involved in fencing issues is when a fence requires a building consent or resource consent (this is likely to also require written approval of the affected neighbour), or if the fence is located on a boundary adjoining Council land.