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Q&A with Handy Mac: To gate or not to gate

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Joe has a problem with sliding gates.

Q: I notice a number of houses in my neighbourhood have the gate outside the property. I understand why this is necessary, and I accept that a minor deviation is acceptable in terms of what is practical and not unsightly.

What is the law in this regard as I believe there is a small open limit of 50mm or 100mm, and above that one has to request approval (a departure order?)

What is the regulation and how much can be done without waiting years for a plan to be passed?

A: This is an area where a blind eye is often turned. Nic Louw, my architect friend, has the answer.

“Hi Don,

This question looks simple but is not always, for the following reasons:

All sliding gates and boundary palisade fences require building plan applications.

The gate or track/sliding mechanism may not protrude over the street boundary. Many sliding gates transgress this as it is often easier to mount the track on the outside of a boundary wall, but this is technically illegal.

Sliding gates always need somewhere to slide to. Sometimes this is not possible to achieve within the confines of a property, so often tracks are mounted on the municipal side of the fence and slide on to neighbouring properties.

The bottom line is that municipal approval needs to be obtained and the gate, track and motor must be within the confines of the property.”

Fitting a sliding gate or opening gates is best done when the house is being built as they can be installed in such a way that access is not restricted, driveways can be moved, gardens are not disturbed, and levels are easily adjusted.

People do break the law on this one, but there are legal ramifications if someone is injured hurt by something illegal on your property. If your neighbour’s child, for example, is playing on your verge, you could open the gate without seeing the child and cause injury. Fortunately the design and motor placements on most gates make it difficult to have it open outside your property.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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