Hurricane Matthew’s strong winds and wind-blown debris caused many wood fences to fail and need to be replaced.
Wood Fences are built for a variety of purposes:
- To provide privacy
- To keep people and/or animals inside or out of a particular area
- To direct traffic flow
The Florida Building Code (FBC) 2014 Fifth Edition Chapter 16 Structural Design SECTION 1616.2 General Design for specific occupancies and structures addresses fences:
Fences not exceeding 6 feet (1829 mm) in height from grade may be designed for 75 mph (33 m/s) fastest mile wind speed or 115 mph (40 m/s) 3-second gust.
1616.2.1 Wood Fence.
Wood fences design shall be as specified by Section 2328.
The FBC also has specific requirements for fences constructed within High-Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZ), or within Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Wood fences within the HVHZ are addressed in Chapter 23 WOOD, Section 2328:
SECTION 2328 HIGH-VELOCITY HURRICANE ZONE – WOOD FENCES
Wood fences, so located on a property that by zoning regulations they cannot be used as a wall of a building, shall be constructed to meet the minimum specifications in Sections 2328.2 and 2328.3.
Fences not exceeding 6 feet (1829 mm) in height, shall be constructed to meet the following minimum requirements: from nominal 4-inch by 4-inch by 8-feet-long (102 mm by 102 mm by 2438 mm) posts No. 2 grade or better spaced 4 feet (1219 mm) on center, and embedded 2 feet (610 mm) into a concrete footing 10 inches (254 mm) in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) deep.
Fences not exceeding 5 feet (1524 mm) or 4 feet (1219 mm) in height shall be constructed as provided in Section 2328.2, except that the spacing of posts may be increased to 5 feet (1524 mm) and 6 feet (1829 mm) on center for these heights, respectively.
Many municipalities have local codes and ordinances, which are not found within the Florida Building Code, that further regulate the height of fences. For example, a privacy fence between two homes may only be permitted to be 6 feet tall, while a privacy fence between a business and a residence may be permitted to exceed 6 feet. You should consult the local zoning/building department to ensure repairs and replacement of wood fences are in line with local codes and ordinances.
Remember, fences which exceed the height requirements of the prescriptive portions of the Florida Building Code should be designed by a licensed professional.
If you have questions about the building code and fence replacement, please contact Matt Depin at: firstname.lastname@example.org.