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Property Improvements

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For more information, contact Code Compliance Officer Hunter Browndyke at or (901) 751-7602; Code Compliance Officer LaFondra Johnson at or (901) 751-7636; Senior Code Compliance Officer Diane DeSanctis at or (901) 757-7294.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, City offices are temporarily closed to the public. Building and other permits will be processed remotely. For your convenience, the Permit Application is available online.

For more information or to submit a completed application with all supporting (required) documents, e-mail  

The following regulations apply to these common property improvements. 


  • To install a new fence, add additional fence sections or change the location, type or materials of a fence, a permit must be obtained before starting the project.
  • Fence permits are available from the Neighborhood Services Division of Economic and Community Development located at 1920 S. Germantown Road. The permit fee (subject to change) is $35. Permit fees are doubled for permits issued after work commences. 
  • There are restrictions on fence height, setbacks from property lines, fencing materials and drainage.
  • Special restrictions apply to a corner lot (a lot adjacent to two or more intersecting streets) and a double frontage lot (lot with frontage on two non-intersecting streets).
  • The smooth side of a fence must be placed toward the street when the fence runs parallel to the street.
  • All fences must be maintained in good repair and sound structural condition.

Learn more about fences here. Find details about fences on double frontage lots here

New Detached Structures

  • A building permit must be obtained before installing any of the following detached structures regardless of their use: garages, carports, pool houses, gazebos, barns, arbors, wooden decks, greenhouses, swimming pools, tree houses, play forts/houses, baseball batting cages, playground equipment, ham radio antennas, etc. (List is not all inclusive.)
  • There are restrictions on location, height and size.
  • Permits are processed by Neighborhood Services. Permit fees vary depending on type, structure and size.  Permit fees are doubled for permits issued after work commences. 

Swimming Pools

  • A permit is required for installation of a swimming pool. Permits are processed through Neighborhood Services, located at 1920 South Germantown Road, where the proposed pool project is checked to determine compliance with the zoning ordinance, setback requirements, easements, and accessory items.  Permit fees are doubled for permits issued after work commences. 
  • Special installation requirements apply for properties in the flood fringe. Pools are prohibited in flood way areas. A map of flood way areas is available here.
  • A fence not less than four feet in height must surround the property or pool area. Spacing between the vertical and horizontal pieces cannot be more than four inches apart. Any horizontal components should not be on the outside of the fence to prevent small children using them as a ladder to climb over the fence. Self-latching closures on gates must be at least four feet above the ground.
  • An illustration is required for fences with an unusual or peculiar design.
  • The fence and gates must be maintained in good repair at all times to prevent small children or other persons from having a direct, unobstructed entry to the pool. Open gates or missing fence sections are a code violation.
  • Pool water must be maintained with proper chemicals to prevent the pool from becoming a breeding site for mosquitoes or another health hazard.
  • Pool water containing chemicals must not be drained on ground surfaces or into the City storm drainage system. It must be drained into the sanitary sewer system.
  • A pool must not be a nuisance to neighbors or the neighborhood.

Home Additions

  • If adding a room, garage or carport, enclosing a carport, remodeling to impact load-bearing walls or making other changes in space that will be attached to the existing house, a building permit is required.
  • The permit will be available at the Memphis/Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement, 6456 Mullins Station Road. Call (901) 222-8300 for information about how to apply for a building permit or visit their website.
  • Germantown's zoning ordinance limits the amount of expansion possible to an existing house.
  • The City's sign ordinance prohibits display on the residential property of any signage bearing or advertising the name of any company contracted to make home improvements.
Learn more. Special rules apply to double frontage lots. 

Easements and Right of Way

An easement is a strip of land to which the City (or another entity)has permanent and continuing access. It is located within the lot lines of a property and may vary in width. Most properties contain utility easements. Some may also have drainage/sewer easements. The right of way (ROW) is a strip of land owned by a city, state or federal government. Typically, it is adjacent to and includes the street. ROW is primarily used for the roadway and essential utilities. There are limitations on what a property owner may do within an easement or on the right of way. Permanent structures are not permitted in an easement and landscaping may be restricted. For more information, contact Tony Ladd, Assistant City Engineer, at  or (901) 757-7287. 

Flood Plain

The City of Germantown participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood insurance program. Development is restricted within the designated flood plains of the city. A flood plain map is available here. For help determining if property is in a flood plain, contact Storm Water Engineer, Tim Bierdz at or (901) 757-7286.

Covenants and Restrictions

Some residential properties in Germantown are subject to subdivision restrictive covenants. The restrictions are intended to maintain or enhance property values by limiting the use of the property and prohibiting certain uses or practices. They are placed on the property by the developer at the time the subdivision is developed.

  • Restrictions are often listed on the subdivision plat and recorded in the Shelby County Register's Office. A copy should be provided to the buyer when the property is acquired. Some restrictions may be more stringent than Germantown Code of Ordinances.
  • Enforcement of covenants is a matter among property owners in the subdivision, typically through an association. The City does not enforce covenant violations unless a City code is also being violated.
  • Always check both ordinances and covenants to avoid violations.


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