When do I need a permit?

A permit is needed to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing system.

Feel free to reach out to the Building Department by calling (503) 667-6211 or email us for more information about permits and your project.

Use our Residential Permits Brochure (PDF) to learn which common home projects may require a permit.

When Permits Are Required

Permits are required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, convert, replace, or move a building or electrical, gas, mechanical, plumbing or fire protection system.



  • Adding/altering a room.
  • Building, demolishing, or moving a carport, garage, or shed more than 200 square feet in area or 10 feet in height (measured from the finished floor to the top plate).
  • Finishing an attic, garage or basement to make additional living space.
  • Cutting a new window or door opening, or modifying an existing opening.
  • Moving, removing or adding walls.
  • Reroofing of commercial structures, multi-unit or connected structures housing more than 2 units, and residential structures when 15% or more of the sheathing is removed, or if the structure is in a wildfire hazard zone.
  • Building a stairway.
  • Building a deck more than 30 inches above grade.
  • Moving more than 50 cubic yards of earth or any amount of cut/fill on sites affected by waterways or slope hazards.
  • Replacing a hot water heater fixtures of appliances that are not “plug and play”. Examples include: water heater, toilet, gas stove, kitched hood, etc.
  • Electrical changes, such as adding circuits or altering existing circuits.
  • Demolition involving electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems.
  • Work in the public right-of-way (sidewalks, planter strips along streets, driveways where they meet the sidewalk).

When Permits Are Not Required

Permits are not required for the work listed below. However, a flood hazard permit (issued by the Planning Division) may be required for certain work for properties that are within a special flood hazard area.

Building: Exterior
  • Non-habitable one-story detached accessory structures such as storage structures, playhouses, etc., provided the floor area doesn’t exceed 200 square feet or a height of 10 feet measured from the finished floor to the top of the top plate.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools where the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade. Barrier requirements are not exempt. (A swimming pool barrier is required for any swimming pool, hot tub, spa or similar structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or immersion that contains water over 24 inches deep.)
  • Retaining walls that do not support a regulated building or do not retain material which, if not restrained, could impact a regulated building.
  • Private concrete sidewalks, slabs and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Porches and decks where the floor or deck is not more than 30 inches above the adjacent grade at any point within 3 feet horizontally of the floor or deck and, in the case of a covered porch, the covered portion does not come closer than 3 feet to property lines.
  • Patio and porch covers not over 200 square feet and supported by a building exterior wall.
  • Replacement or repair of siding not required to be fire resistant.
  • Paint buildings that are not historic landmarks.
  • Reroofing of single-unit residential structures when no more than 15% of the sheathing is removed and the structure is not in a wildfire hazard zone. (Townhouses, etc. require a permit).
  • Repair/replace rain gutters, downspouts or masonry brick. (A permit may still be required for stormwater disposal.)
  • Swings and other outside playground equipment accessory to a one- or two-family dwelling.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall, which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  • Same size or like for like door and window replacements where no structural member is changed.
  • Installation of plastic glazed storm windows.
  • Framed-covered, non-habitable accessory buildings not more than 500 square feet in area, one story in height, and not closer than 3 feet to the property line, where the structure is composed of a rigid framework that supports a fabric membrane.
  • Water tanks supported directly upon the ground if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons, and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
Building: Interior
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets/shelving, countertops, interior wall, floor or ceiling covering, and similar finish work.
  • Nonbearing partitions (walls) except when such partitions create habitable rooms. (Habitable rooms are used for living, sleeping, eating or cooking.)
  • Retrofitted insulation.
  • Removing and replacing broken or damaged electrical outlets like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes. If a GFCI protected outlet is required by code, a permit is required.
  • Removing and replacing broken or damaged light fixtures like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes.
  • Removing and replacing broken or damaged light switches like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes.
  • Replacing approved fuses or defective breakers like for like only.
  • Replacing an existing garbage disposal, dishwasher, electric tank water heater, or similar appliance of 30 amps or less.
  • Installing low-voltage wiring for garage door openers.
  • Installing phone outlets or CATV (Community Access TV) however, wire must be listed type wire.
  • Adding to or altering an irrigation system with an approved backflow device. (Permits are required for installation of a backflow device.)
  • Replacing a hose bib.
  • Installing a fountain or other water feature that is filled by a hose.
  • Repairing a sink, toilet or shower head.
  • Repairing a faucet if not concealed in a wall.
  • Resurfacing/replacing countertops, shower walls or re-grouting tile.
Mechanical: Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning
  • Changing out furnace filters.
  • Portable heating appliances, cooking or clothes drying appliances.
  • Portable ventilation appliances, evaporative coolers and cooling units.
  • Steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by the code.
  • Replacing any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
  • Portable appliances, such as freezers, washing machines, refrigerators, portable barbecue grill, etc.
  • Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.