Masonry Block Fences

General Information

As a result of the adoption of the City's Building Codes, which includes the amendment to section R105.2, International Residential Code (I.R.C.), the City no longer exempts fences from building permits. Therefore, all fence construction must comply with both the City's current Zoning Code and the adopted Building Code. The City currently limits fencing construction materials to masonry and/or metal grille, reference section 30.02, City Zoning Code.

With regards to masonry and in conjunction with both the Arizona Masonry Guild (AMG) and the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association (AMCA), the City has developed a handout packet of information, which includes masonry block fence construction details. This has been done in an effort to help ensure the construction quality of masonry block fencing built within our community. This packet contains a series of optional engineered design details categorized by not only the size of masonry block used, but also by soil bearing capacity and the use of control joints, with a maximum fence height limitation of six (6) feet and a wall design resistance to lateral wind pressure of 10 psf.

***Please Note: The masonry block fence details are not intended to be used in conjunction with the following:
  • A perimeter fence when exposed to a "wind exposure C category."
  • A retaining wall to structurally support an unbalanced backfill or to support surcharge loading.
  • To bridge fill and/or disturbed soils.
  • As part of a designed waterway or storm water retention basin.

Commonly Used Terms

To better understand the engineered details, commonly used terms are defined as follows:

  • ASCE: American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials.
  • Bed joint: The horizontal layer of mortar on which a masonry unit is laid.
  • Bond beam: A horizontal grouted element within the masonry block fence which contains embedded steel reinforcement.
  • Fence height: The height of a fence measured vertically from the finished grade to the highest elevation along the length of the fence structure, including the cap block. ***Please Note: Raising the finish grade by placing fill solely for the purpose of adding additional height to the fence is prohibited. If a fence is placed on an earth berm, the fence height is measured vertically from the base of the berm.
  • Head joint: Vertical mortar joint placed between masonry units within the wythe at the time the masonry units are laid.
  • Joint reinforcement: Ladder-type or truss-type reinforcement that is added along the bed joints of a masonry block fence.
  • Lateral wind load, "exposure B" category: Urban and suburban areas, wooded areas, or other terrain with numerous closely spaced obstructions having the size of single-family dwellings or larger.
  • Perimeter fence: Common fencing that normally encloses or semi-encloses a community or a portion of a community, usually located adjacent to roadways, parks, public walkways, storm water retention facilities, etc.
  • Wythe: Each continuous, vertical section of a wall, one masonry unit in thickness.
***Please Note: All fence designs must be approved by the City's Design Review Board (DRB) before a building permit application can be made. Fences three (3) feet in height and located within the front yard, may be approved administratively without formal approval by the City's Design Review Board (DRB).

***Please Note: For fencing used as a barrier in conjunction with swimming pools and/or spas, please click on Swimming Pool and Spa Permit Guidelines for additional City regulations.


The following is a list of required City inspections for masonry block fences:
  • For 6" CMU standard fence walls, both a "footing" inspection and a "full-height pre-grout" (including bond beam) inspection are required.
  • For 8" CMU standard fence walls both a "footing" inspection and a "full-height pre-grout" (including bond beam) inspection are required.
  • For 4" interlocking block wall with pilasters (solid grout), only a "footing" inspection is required.