Commercial building permit application and important forms
Building code summary worksheet
Building permit application
Building permit requirements for prefabricated metal buildings
Commercial food establishments
Commercial systems development charge form
Life Safety forms
More information about change of use or occupancy
Shell permit acknowledgement statement
Simplified approach form
Step 1: Research the property and what you need for your project
You need a building permit to build a new commercial structure with three or more units. You need a permit to build a multi-family residential project with three or more units. You also need a permit to add, repair, alter, or change occupancy of existing structures.
Before you apply for a permit, research the following items:
- the zoning of the property
- the applicable codes
- existing permits on site
- occupancy of the existing building
- the permit cost
- feasibility of the project
- time a permit remains active
- what your fees will be
- what the system development charges will be for your project
Codes in effect in Portland include City Codes, such as Titles 24 and 33, as well as State building codes. Please review our Codes page for more information.
Applications must show how they meet the building code with a code summary. The building code summary is critical to convey design assumptions made for the building.
Change of use or occupancy
Projects that change the occupancy or use of the existing space can be very complex. The Change of Use or Occupancy brochure has information on this type of project.
Fire Life Safety Summary
For very complex projects, the Fire Life Safety Summary may be needed. The Fire Life Safety Summary form has more details about sprinklers, fire alarms, detection systems and other construction information about the building.
If your project contains space that will not be built out and ready for occupancy at the time the permit is finalized, a separate Tenant Improvement permit will be necessary to establish first occupancy of the space. Since changes between the first Shell permit and the subsequent TI permit are common, a signed Shell Permit Acknowledgement Statement is required.
Seismic strengthening requirements
Portland City Code, Title 24.85 contains criteria that may trigger requirements for additional seismic strengthening when the work involves an existing building.
Step 2: Get Early Assistance
For projects with complicated building or fire code issues you may need some assistance. Customers may request a preliminary Life Safety meeting. Review the Life Safety Preliminary Meeting Request Packet for information.
Land use Early Assistance requests help applicants prepare a complete project proposal, usually a land use review application. A Land Use Pre-Application Conference is required for all Type III and IV land use reviews prior to submittal of the application. They are also available but optional for lower tier Land use reviews.
Step 3: What you need for a commercial new construction or addition building permit (submittal standards)
As part of the review process, a complete submittal is required. This includes:
- a completed building permit application
- life safety completeness checklist for commercial permits
- a Shell TI Acknowledgement statement
- architectural, structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and landscape drawings
Your project will most likely need separate electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits. These permits are applied for separately once the project has been approved for issuance.
Review the drawings requirements:
- Drawings, drawn to scale where necessary to verify compliance with code.
- Drawings may be handwritten/drawn if clear and legible. Text or note shall be in print.
- Minimum drawing size: 11x17. All required information is to be clear and legible. Minimum printed text is to be 3/32” or the equivalent 12-point font.
- Cannot use professional's drawings without the permission of the professional who signed the original drawings. For example, an architect’s stamped plan set cannot be used without their permission.
Prepare the following information:
- Building permit application
- Erosion control plan. Install erosion control measures before beginning any further ground disturbing activities. These measures must have an approved inspection.
- Life Safety Completeness Checklist for Commercial Permits
- Commercial system development charge form
- Simplified approach form and/or stormwater plan
- Review the submittal standards and drawing criteria listed in this handout: Submittal Requirements Commercial - New Construction, Additions, Alterations with Exterior Work or Structural Changes
- Complete a Shell Permit Acknowledgement Statement if your project includes space that defers occupancy to a future tenant improvement permit
Step 4: Apply for a building permit and submit your plans
If you are unable to create electronic plans, please call us and we will work with you.
Step 5: Plan review process, checksheets and corrections
You can check the status of a permit review on Portland Maps permit/case search. Many people might review a single permit. The Permit Review Process web page has more information about the groups who review permits.
A checksheet is sent to the applicant when a reviewer needs additional information or a correction has to be made to the plans. Read more about how to send us corrections and how to prepare corrected paper plans.
Step 6: Permit issuance
You will be contacted when your permit is ready, and notified of your final fee total. Instructions will be given on how to get your approved permit and pay your fees. Your permit is not issued until all fees are paid. Read more about the pre-issuance process.
Step 7: Start building and get ready for inspections
The inspection card lists all the inspections you will likely need during your construction project, and what work needs to be done first.
Once your building permit is issued, erosion control measures and sometimes tree protection measures must be installed, inspected and approved prior to beginning any further ground-disturbing activities.
All permits need a final approval inspection to be complete.
Step 8: Commercial inspections, results and corrections
To schedule an inspection, call the automated inspection request line. You will need your IVR or permit number and the three digit code for the inspection. You must call before 6:00 a.m. or the inspection will be scheduled the following business day.
Get the results of the inspection on Portland Maps permit/case search the next day.
Read more about why work does not get approved and how to schedule a reinspection.
Contact commercial inspectors
If you have questions before or after your inspection, you can talk to an inspector.