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

If you’ve just moved to Cincinnati and are hoping to complete a few home improvement projects on your new property, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Some home improvement projects require permits and planning permission, so it’s a good idea to check out your local government’s building and planning regulations before you begin any work.

The rules surrounding new decking and fencing projects are particularly specific for the city of Cincinnati, so we’ve outlined the permit requirements and processes for both of these below.

Permit rules

Before you hire a contractor or buy the supplies for your new fence or deck, the first step is to check whether you need a permit to complete this work. Thankfully, information from the City of Cincinnati’s permit guide website is clear and concise, and it answers just about every question you could possibly have about requirements for homeowners wanting to complete home improvement projects of all types and sizes.

*Remember that the following information applies to homes in the jurisdiction of the City of Cincinnati. If you are unsure about your home’s zoning, you can check your zoning/jurisdiction here.

With regards to fencing and decking, the rules vary according to the size and type of addition you want to make:

  • Homeowners who live in 1-3 family detached dwellings are not required to apply for a permit for fences that are less than 6 feet high (for side and rear fencing), or less than 4 feet high/50% open for front yard fencing.
  • However, if your home is considered to be ‘historic’—in this case by the City of Cincinnati—you need to apply for and receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Urban Conservator before work can begin on any projects. Call 513-352-4848 for more information.
  • Permits are generally required for new decking projects in Cincinnati (this also applies to awnings, garages, carports, and larger security fences among others).

How to apply

If you’ve determined that your project requires a permit, you can apply in the following ways:

  • Online via this link
  • By mail: send in your permit application, project and site plans, and any other necessary forms (depending on the size of your project) to the City of Cincinnati Permit Center, 805 Central Ave., Suite 500, Cincinnati, OH, 45202
  • In person at the Cincinnati Permit Center (same address as above)

Before sending in your permit application, you can check your documentation requirements here.You can find the appropriate applications and forms for a variety of projects, including decks and fences, on the City of Cincinnati’s buildings pages. This site also contains links to apply online and further contact information should you have any questions.

Permit costs

Permit costs vary depending on the type of home improvement project you choose to undertake and may include:

  • Nonrefundable $31 application processing fee ($92 for 4 family+ dwellings or commercial units)
  • Permit fee – find out what yours will cost here
  • Technology surcharge – 3% additional added to all scheduled fees

All fees can be paid by cash, check, card, or trust accounts.


While these rules and regulations may seem complicated, the good news is that the process of applying for a building permit is straightforward and all the information you could need is available at the City of Cincinnati’s website. If, however, you choose to complete any fencing or decking projects—or any other home improvement job—that normally requires a permit without securing one beforehand, be aware that you may incur a penalty fare (called an investigation fee) plus the normal permit cost if you are found out.

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

Kaitlin Krull