Commercial Building Code Guides

Find all commercial building code guides administered by Development Services. Code guides provide answers about the application of building code and outline optional alternates. View a list of commercial building code guides published by Development Services and read each code guide.

The question or alternate described in each code guide is listed below the code guide link.

  • Can prefabricated structures, as defined in OAR 918-674, used as temporary storage space during an alteration or addition to an existing building or construction of a new building, or for a temporary sales or leasing office, or for other allowed temporary uses, be placed on a construction site?
  • Quite often churches, schools and other commercial buildings offer temporary shelter to people in need. Are there instances where an assembly or other occupancy type can be used as sleeping facilities without undergoing a change of occupancy?
  • Commercial buildings are sometimes used as assembly spaces on a temporary basis, though the permitted occupancy is not an assembly occupancy. However, there are occasions when there are arts or cultural events that occur in these types of spaces and attract customers above the legal permitted number of occupants. The demand of these events is unpredictable and planning for temporary arts and cultural events can be challenging. If an art or cultural business has use of a space in a building that was not permitted as an assembly occupancy as defined in the building code, are there options for temporarily using the space for assembly events?
  • How are existing assembly occupancies with an occupant load between 50 and 100 regulated? When is a change of occupancy required?
  • Can cargo containers be installed on properties and used as accessory storage structures?
  • What is the building occupancy classification for breweries and distilleries? When is a Hazardous Materials Report required?
  • What alternative designs may be used to provide emergency standby power and secondary water supplies in the alteration of existing high-rise buildings? Are these alternatives appropriate in other circumstances?
  • Are any projections allowed into the 7' - 0" headroom clearance required in the pedestrian and vehicular circulation areas in a parking garage?
  • In buildings of either Type III-A or III-B construction, the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) permits fire-retardant-treated wood framing within exterior walls where the wall is 2-hour fire resistance rated or less. May non-fire-retardant-treated wood be used as an alternative to fire-retardant-treated wood in these assemblies?
  • The Electrical Specialty Code does not allow more than one electrical service in a single building. The Structural Specialty Code allows a single building to be treated as separate buildings when they are separated from each other by a Fire Wall. Are there approved alternative methods to separate a building for the purpose of allowing separate electrical services in the same building?
  • What are the design load requirements for automatic smoke and heat vents installed in roofs? Do the same standards apply to melt-out vents?
  • The Code requires an automatic fire sprinkler system to be installed throughout all buildings containing a Residential (Group R) occupancy. Group R occupancies include hotels, apartments and condominiums. When and where is a fire sprinkler system required in existing buildings that have a Group R fire area added?
  • Where NFPA 13D systems are required, are residential quick response sprinkler heads required to be installed over or adjacent to fuel-fired equipment located in garages?
  • Are these spaces, or interruptions, allowed in fire-rated corridors, and if so, are there any restrictions on the types and amounts of equipment and furniture?
  • How does the Bureau of Development Services calculate the occupant load for office spaces that include non-traditional work areas like lounges and huddle rooms for purposes of egress, plumbing fixture count, and seismic triggers?
  • When are elevators required in apartment buildings?
  • How many accessible parking spaces are required in apartment buildings and where should they be located?
  • How are the minimum required number of Type A and Type B dwelling units determined, and how must they be dispersed among the various classes of dwelling units in a building?
  • When buildings are altered, the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) requires a portion of the costs of the construction to be spent toward removal of existing barriers to accessibility. How are the costs determined and what are the priorities for compliance? What documentation is required for review and approval?
  • What is the minimum width of passageways to employee-only work areas located behind display counters, sales counters, bars and similar spaces? Do these areas need to be provided with doorways or gates large enough to permit the installation of a side-swinging door or gate, or can flip-up counters be used?
  • What are the structural loading requirements for private elevated driveways and parking decks?
  • What are the structural requirements for greenhouses which are used primarily for horticultural or agricultural purposes and not used for human habitation?
  • What are the acceptable design methods and testing requirements when using adhesive anchors for seismic strengthening of existing unreinforced masonry building?
  • OSSC Sections 1705.11 and 1705.12 require seismic certification and special inspections for Designated Seismic Systems. What are the submittal requirements for mechanical, electrical and plumbing components of designated seismic systems and what are the methods of certification?
  • What are the geotechnical and structural engineering requirements relating to soils and foundations for plan review of prefabricated structures?
  • When is a slope hazard evaluation required? What are the requirements for slope hazard evaluations?
  • Can Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) be used to construct rooftop antenna screens? What are the specific design and construction requirements and limitations that must be considered when designing and building FRP rooftop antenna screens?
  • What are the requirements for a generator being used as an emergency or required standby power supply system?
  • What constitutes a separate facility for each sex where plumbing fixtures are required?
  • Section 3106.3 of the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) requires that marquee roofs shall slope to downspouts that shall conduct any drainage from the marquee in such a manner as to not spill over the sidewalk. Section 3201.4 of the OSSC prohibits drainage water collected from a marquee from flowing over a public walking surface. Are any alternate designs to the downspout accepted?
  • Can the provisions for exterior wall and opening protections that are allowed for building walls fronting on public streets or public open space be applied to building walls and openings that front on a private rights-of-ways or other tracts that are held in common ownership by multiple parties?
  • Are projections beyond the exterior wall of buildings allowed to project into private rights-of-ways that are held in common ownership by multiple parties?
  • Can existing holes remain in plaster ceilings installed below concrete floor assemblies in Type I Buildings constructed prior to 1955?
  •  ASCE 41 and structural design standard of practice requires complex analysis and demonstration of compatibility between new lateral elements and existing masonry components during the seismic upgrade of a URM building. As these requirements are disproportionately burdensome, is there an alternate method to demonstrate compatibility?


You can also read more about these codes, rules and guides: state building codes and related administrative rules and interpretations, City codes, City administrative rules, Business Practice Policies, Program Guides, Building Official's Determinations, PBOT Codes and Guides, MOUs/IGAs and request a change to City codes or recommend a regulatory improvement change.


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