Do You Need a Permit to Build a Deck or Fence in Albuquerque?

Whether you’ve been planning a move here for years or if you’re just starting to consider it as an option, Albuquerque is a fantastic and vibrant choice of cities for relocation. Referred to as “the Burque” by residents, or ABQ for short, this largest city in New Mexico is bursting with beautiful scenery, multiculturalism, and great jobs. It’s even officially one of the hippest cities in the U.S. right now.

Another benefit of living in Albuquerque is the warm and dry climate, where average highs soar to 90 degrees in July and the average rainfall is only around 9.4 inches per year. If you want to make some additions to the exterior of your new home, however, there are a few things you need to know before getting started.

Walls and fences

If you think the backyard of your new home in the ABQ needs a bit of a spruce-up, you would be wise to consult the City of Albuquerque’s Building Safety Permit office website. This introduction to building safety permit requirements and FAQs from the City of Albuquerque’s website will be useful for the kinds of projects we talk about here, as well as for any other home improvements you may wish to complete while living in the city.

As far as fences are concerned, size makes all the difference. If you wish to erect a fence or wall 6 feet high or under, you only need to apply for a Zoning Permit. You can register online here and follow the instructions to complete your permit application online, or complete and return this paper application to the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department (Building Safety Permit office – 600 2nd St., N.W., Albuquerque New Mexico 87102, phone number (505) 924-3320 accessible 8-5 M-F). You will also need to include drawings of the planned wall or fence as it relates to your home and neighboring properties, as well as a list of any materials you will need to use (more instructions on the kinds of documents that would suit can be found online).

If you want to build a fence over 6 feet high, you will first need to submit two detailed sets of plans for review. The process for this specific type of project is outlined in these guidelines. Once your plans have been reviewed and approved, you will also need to complete and submit a Building Safety Permit application. Note that the average turnaround time for an application review is 2 1/2 weeks for single dwelling residential projects of this size, and fee schedules for a variety of home improvement project applications can be found here and here (fees vary according to the size and cost of the project).


While the information that pertains to installing fencing is straightforward on the City of Albuquerque’s website, details about decking projects are less explicit. According to New Mexico Residential Code 105.1, a permit is not required for decking projects where the deck is smaller than 200 square feet in area, less than 30 inches above ground level, and not attached to a dwelling.

If you want to install a larger deck that will connect to your home, you will most likely need to complete the Building Safety Permit application for additions. If you want to build or alter an enclosed patio, the requirements are slightly different. When in doubt, contact the Building Safety Permit office for advice.

Of course, it is up to you whether you decide to follow these guidelines when completing any home improvement projects. You should know, however, that working without a permit can result in the issuance of a stop work order followed by court action if you fail to comply with any requests.

For more tips on home improvement projects such as roof replacement, solar installation, replacement double paned windows, or HVAC installation check out our friends at Modernize.

Kaitlin Krull