A fence around a mountain cabin in the Alps.
© Getty Images / Bruce Yuanyue Bi

Building and buying

Fence building: regulations, costs and materials

Thomas Bott

A fence can protect your property in several ways: it visually marks out the boundaries – and stops people or animals from entering your garden. Some fences protect against prying eyes and some even against wind and noise. The differences between them and the regulations that apply are explained here.

Fence building: rules for fencing

The term fencing describes the physical demarcation of a property. It includes fences, but also walls and hedges. These demarcations must follow certain rules. First of all, it is important to note that every owner of land in Switzerland has the right to enclose it within walls, hedges or fences. However, they must always observe the applicable neighboring rights.

The first important rule is that anyone who erects fencing may not exceed the boundary of their property. This sounds logical, but is in fact the cause of many neighborhood disputes. The boundaries themselves are firmly defined by the land register plans.

If the fencing is placed on the boundary with the neighboring property, the neighbor becomes the co-owner of the fence, wall or hedge. The situation may differ slightly here if individual agreements are reached between both parties or according to local legislation. The law is a little more complicated when it comes to boundary distances, as the figures to observe vary widely depending on the canton. When building fences, for example, you must maintain certain minimum distances from forests and public roads. You can obtain more detailed information on the rules that apply to you from your local building authority.

A high wooden privacy fence around a large property.

Enclosing a property with a fence is subject to certain regulations. This is to prevent disputes between neighbors.

Materials: types of fences available

When planning a fence, you should first decide on the building material you wish to use. We have listed the main types of fence here.

Wood

A wooden fence can be designed openly or as a privacy screen. Specialist shops usually stock ready-made elements that simply need to be erected. If you are looking for a more individual design, battens and planks are also available. Wood ensures a natural look and comes in many different colors and grains. However, a wooden fence also requires a lot of maintenance. Its stability decreases over time due to wind and weather.

Two girls lean their legs against a wooden fence.

A wooden fence blends in well with nature in the garden and can serve as a privacy screen.

Metal

Metal fences are also available in many different styles and colors. A flexible wire mesh fence is the most traditional. Opaque metal fences provide privacy, while ornamental metal fences with artistic patterns can have a very distinguished look. Metal is easy to clean and durable. However, rust can develop over time depending on the alloy.

Plastic

There is a huge range of plastic fences available. Some models act as privacy screens, some as ornamental fences or others as simple batten fences. Plastic is very durable, does not rust and is available in many different styles and colors. Visually, a plastic fence may sometimes appear to be of lower quality than a fence made of wood or metal.

Stone

This type of fence usually consists of smaller stones placed in steel baskets called gabions. The stones are arranged loosely on top of each other to form a stable wall. Stone forms a very effective privacy screen, but also offers good noise protection.

Gabions filled with stones produce a pattern. Plants grow between the individual gabions.

Gabions can be filled individually with different types of stones. This makes it possible to make visual patterns like this black stripe.

Glass

A glass fence provides particularly good protection against wind and weather, dampens noise – and (if it is made of frosted glass) can also provide privacy. However, if a breakage occurs, it is impossible to repair. In this case you must replace the damaged section completely.

The cost of fence construction

The price for a running meter of garden fence varies greatly depending on the choice of material, quality and height. However, as a rough guide, you can expect to have to pay the following prices:

  • Wooden fence: about 20 to 50 francs per running meter
  • Metal fence: about 50 to 200 francs per running meter
  • Plastic fence: about 80 to 120 francs per running meter
  • Stone fence: about 150 to 200 francs per running meter
  • Glass fence: about 150 to 300 francs per running meter

Conclusion: take advantage of the wide selection on offer

You can’t really make the wrong choice when building a fence. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. If privacy or wind protection is not particularly important to you, a cheaper model made of wood or metal should be sufficient. If you would prefer an individual design, stone could be the right choice. Glass and elaborately designed metal fences increase the perceived value of the fencing. Don’t forget to pay attention to the legal regulations when planning your fence.

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