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15-Minute Question Appointments: Free Building Permit and Zoning Help

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Schedule a free 15-minute virtual meeting with a construction, zoning and development expert. Ask questions about building permit submittal requirements. Get help with the permit process, zoning requirements, building codes and more. Language access is available.
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Meaningful Access

The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact 503-823-7300 or TTY 503-823-6868.

Translation and Interpretation | Traducción e Interpretación  |  Biên Dịch và Thông Dịch  |  अनुवादन तथा व्याख्या  | 口笔译服务  |   Устный и письменный перевод  |  Turjumaad iyo Fasiraad  |  Письмовий і усний переклад  |  Traducere și interpretariat  |  Chiaku me Awewen Kapas  | 翻訳と通訳 | 번역 및 통역  | Pagsasalin at Interpretasyon  |  ການແປແລະການແປພາສາ  |  ترجمة والترجمة الفورية  |  ការបកប្រែនិងការបកប្រែភាសា :  503-823-7300

Use live captions during a virtual appointment 

You can use automatic, real-time captions during your 15-minute question appointment. Learn more about how to use live captions during a Microsoft Teams call. 


Schedule a 15-minute question appointment

Virtual appointments take place on Microsoft Teams, a video conferencing application. Microsoft Teams is free to download. Desktop users: You do not need to download anything. You can join your meeting with your preferred web browser. 

Prefer calling in? Once you've booked an appointment you can find the dial-in phone number in your meeting invite. Please note that there are limitations with dial-in calls (ex. sharing files can only be done over Microsoft Teams).

When booking your 15-Minute Question Appointment:

  1. Make sure your project is within the City of Portland;
  2. Select and book your appointment type below; 
  3. You will receive a confirmation email with a link to join a virtual meeting and a phone number (if you choose to meet by phone). 
  4. Learn more on how to prepare for your virtual meeting.

How to prepare for a virtual meeting

Before your appointment, remember to:

  • Organize and plan. Have the address of the property and electronic project documents ready. Be prepared with all your questions in advance.
  • Search Portland.gov by project type to find forms and information to include with your application to make sure it's complete. For example, search for "deck permit," "ADU permits" or "electrical permit." 
  • You can also search all forms, design guidelines and templates in the Documents are of our website. You can also find out which home improvement projects require permits.
  • Be prepared to share your computer screen and electronic project documents during your appointment in Microsoft Teams (not available for phone dial-in). 
  • Have a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access. 
  • Smartphone or tablet users: If you plan on attending the virtual meeting over your smartphone or tablet you'll need to download Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is free to download. 
  • Desktop users: You do not need to download anything. You can join your meeting with your preferred web browser. 
  • The use of webcams during the virtual appointment is optional. 
  • During your appointment, staff can share their computer screen (not available for phone dial-in). 
  • Learn more about using Microsoft Teams.
  • Good to know: 
    • No submittals will be accepted during meetings. 
    • Please arrive on time. Staff will cancel the appointment after five minutes of waiting.  

Select an appointment type:

Meet with a Permit Technician

For questions about the overall permitting process or to discuss minimum submittal requirements (what you need to apply).

Choose an appointment type:

  • Residential permits

    • 1 & 2 family homes
    • Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs   
    • Duplexes    
    • Townhouses  
    • Garages, decks, fences on residential property 
  • Commercial permits or other permits

    • Condominiums, apartments, multi-family (three-family units or more)
    • Commercial (office, retail, restaurants)
    • Industrial 
    • Site development: Grading, groundwork for new subdivisions, landslide repair, and private streets 
    • Development review: Vending carts and stormwater mitigation systems 

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

⏱ 15-minute question appointments 

Book Now: Meet with a Permit Technician


Meet with a City Planner

We recommend meeting with a city planner for questions about zoning or the Tree Code (in development situations).

Get information before submitting construction permits or land use reviews. 

Choose an appointment type:

  • General zoning or tree code

    • General zoning (use or development of a property) or about removing trees for development related to:
      • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
      • Airbnb and other short-term rentals
      • Converting your garage
      • Fences
      • Tiny House
      • Residential Infill Project (RIP) 
    • Find out:
      • What is your zoning?
      • What can you build on a lot?
      • Where can you build on a lot?
      • Setback and height regulations
    • Tree code questions about tree removal and preservation with proposed construction or development.
  • Land division, lot confirmation, or property line adjustment

    • Land division: How to divide an existing property to create additional lots, parcels, or tracts.
    • Lot confirmation: Verify if a lot is eligible for development under the zoning code.
    • Property line adjustment: To relocate a property line between two lots that are next to each other.
  • Design or historic regulations and reviews

    • Design review: Review for projects in the "d" Design overlay zone.
    • Historic review: Review of alterations to existing historic resources and review of new development within designated districts.
  • Environmental, river, or greenway regulations and reviews

    • Environmental: Questions about projects in “c” or “p” environmental zones.
    • River review: Questions about projects in the “g*” river general, “r*” river recreational, or “e” river environmental overlay zones.
    • Greenway: Questions about projects in the “n”, “r”, “g”, “i”, or “q” greenway overlay zones.

View specific zones, overlay zones and other property information.

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

15-minute question appointments 

Book Now: Meet with a City Planner


Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer

Choose an appointment type:

  • Residential Building Code

    • Building code (Oregon Residential Specialty Code) requirements of new construction, remodels, or additions 1 & 2 family homes.
    • Find out if a building permit is needed or what the life safety requirements are for your project.
    • Meet with a residential building code reviewer if you have questions about:
      • Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)
      • Duplexes
      • Single-family homes 
      • Townhouses
      • Accessory structures, such as a garage or shed
    • Common projects you might have questions about:
      • Adding a second floor
      • Converting to living space
      • Decks
      • Egress windows
      • Home remodels
      • Seismic anchorage
      • Stairs
    • Find out:
      • Structural requirements
      • Room size and ceiling height requirements
      • Fire rated material requirements
      • If a licensed architect or engineer is required for your project
    • To submit a question by phone, call Building Code Plan Review.
  • Commercial Building Code

    • Building code (Oregon Structural Specialty Code) requirements of new construction, remodels, or additions relating to: 
      • Commercial (office, retail, restaurants)
      • Industrial
      • Multi-family buildings (three or more residential units)
    • Meet with a commercial building code reviewer if you have questions about:
      • Accessibility requirements
      • Commercial building code requirements
      • Life Safety requirements
      • Occupancy classifications
      • Requirements when changing the occupancy or use in a building
    • To submit a question by phone, call Building Code Plan Review. 
  • Mechanical Engineering

    • For commercial building plans. Get help with how your project can meet mechanical code(Oregon Mechanical Specialty Code) and what is required on your plans.
    • Mechanical code questions related to:
      • Commercial HVAC systems
      • All other commercial Mechanical systems 
  • Structural Engineering

    • For commercial development, get help on your project with questions about structural engineering requirements of the buildings code (Oregon Structural Specialty Code) and Portland City Code 24.85 related to: 
      • Structural elements (beams, columns, walls, and foundations)
      • Design and analysis of the building or other structures to resist gravity or vertical loads (permanent weight of structure, imposed load from the contents and occupants, snow, etc.)
      • Design and analysis of the structural elements to resist lateral loads (wind, seismic, soil loads, etc.)
      • Seismic Design Requirements for Existing Buildings (Portland City Code 24.85)
      • Seismic upgrade triggers (Portland City Code 24.85)
      • Structural requirements for solar installations
    • You may find answers to your questions related to structural engineering for your project by visiting our Structural Engineering web page. If you still have questions, book a 15-minute appointment.
  • Site Development

    • If you have questions about building on a steep slope or whether you will need a geotechnical report to get your permit.
    • Questions about code requirements for:
      • Grading
      • Erosion control
      • Geotechnical engineering and reports
      • Retaining wall design and loading
      • Landslide hazards
      • Floodplain development
      • Septic (e.g. cesspool) decommissioning.

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

15-minute question appointments

Book Now: Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer


Meet with a Water expert

For development and construction related questions about water services.

Choose an appointment type:

  • Water Availability

    • Submittal requirements on Site Plan for Water Bureau’s review
    • Meter upsizing requirements and costs
    • Meter size and service branch size
    • Water main availability, location, and size
    • Information on how to schedule service installation and other water work
    • Questions about Water code requirements in Title 21

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

  • Water Quality Backflow

    • Submittal requirements on Site Plan for Water Bureau’s review to include all utilities shown
    • Domestic Meter size and PI backflow protection
    • Dedicated Irrigation Meter size and PI backflow protection
    • Dedicated Fire line size and PI backflow protection
    • Water main availability, location, and size
    • For more information visit: Legal and installation requirements for backflow protection

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

15-minute question appointments

Book Now: Meet with a Water expert


Meet with a Fire Safety expert

General fire safety questions around development & constructions including:

  • Access & water supply
  • Fire sprinklers – where required only
  • Fire alarms – where required only
  • Solar PV installations
  • Hazardous tanks
  • Occupant load certificates/signs

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

⏱ 15-minute question appointments

Book Now: Meet with a Fire Safety expert


Meet with a Transportation expert

Questions about how your project will affect the right-of-way.

Find out if your project will trigger public right-of-way improvements or other conditions by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for building permit approval.

Get help with questions about public right-of-way requirements for private development and voluntary improvement permits for meeting PBOT standards.

Choose an appointment type:

  • Transportation - Residential

    • Book this appointment to learn about transportation requirements for:
      • ADA improvements
      • Adjacent right-of-way improvements and property dedication triggered by development
      • Alley improvements 
      • Altering an existing driveway
      • Encroachment in the right-of-way (retaining wall, fence, steps, etc.)
      • Installing a new garage or driveway 
      • Installing or replacing sidewalk
      • Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge (LTIC)
      • Major residential renovations
      • Residential development situations that trigger right-of-way improvements and type of permit needed to build them
      • Single Family Residential (SFR), duplex, townhouse, or Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) development
      • Site access  
  • Transportation - Commercial

    • Book this appointment to learn about transportation requirements for:
      • ADA improvements 
      • Alley improvements
      • Changes in building use/occupancy
      • Commercial and industrial driveways
      • Commercial development situations that trigger right-of-way improvements and type of permit needed to build them
      • Demolition work next to or in the right-of-way 
      • Encroachment in the right-of-way (shoring, basements, overhead projections, etc.)
      • New commercial, mixed-use, multifamily, industrial, or tenant improvement development 
      • PBOT conditions adjacent to a State Highway (ODOT) 
      • Site access
      • Utility vault located in the right-of-way and lease requirements

If you have questions about a specific project number, please contact the individual reviewer(s) directly.

⏱ 15-minute question appointments

Book Now: Meet with a Transportation expert


Additional help and contact information 

Find more information on Permitting Services from Other City of Portland Bureaus on our website.

Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) 

BES Hotline – 503-823-7761  

BES Source Control Hotline – 503-823-7122 

Email: BESDevelopmentReview@portlandoregon.gov 

Inclusionary Housing

Affordable housing density bonus programs and affordable housing exemption programs. 

Portland Housing Bureau: 503-823-9042

Email: Inclusionary-Housing@portlandoregon.gov 

Parks Systems Development Charge (SDC)

Parks SDC telephone: 503-823-5105 

Email: parks.sdc@portlandoregon.gov 

Parks Urban Forestry

Tree Hotline: 503-823-TREE(8733)  

Email: trees@portlandoregon.gov 

Transportation Systems Development Charge (SDC)

Transportation SDC telephone: 503-823-7002, option #2 

Email: PBOTSDC@portlandoregon.gov 

Transportation Temporary Street Use  

Please visit Temporary Street Use Permitting (TSUP)

More ways to get early assistance with your project

Learn more about other early assistance options and set up an early assistance meeting for a deeper discussion about your project.