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

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Schedule a free 15-minute meeting with a construction, zoning and development expert. Ask questions about building permit submittal requirements and zoning. Get help with the permit process, ask zoning requirements questions, building codes and more. Language access is available.
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The City of Portland welcomes the opportunity to work with you on your construction and development projects. This webpage is about free 15-minute appointments. If you don't know where to begin, start with a permit technician. They can answer your questions or guide you to a review group that can help you.

Most of these appointments are conducted online or over the phone, five days a week. In-person appointments are available in the Development Services Center, at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

You might also be interested in other early assistance options

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 a virtual 15-minute question appointment. Learn more about how to use live captions during a Microsoft Teams call. 


Schedule a 15-minute question appointment

These appointments can be conducted in one of three ways:

  • Via online video (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Over the phone (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • In-person at the Development Services Center, located at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue (Tuesday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. to noon only)

Virtual appointments take place through Microsoft Teams, a video conferencing application. Microsoft Teams is free to download. (If you have a desktop or laptop computer, you do not need to download anything. You can join your meeting with your preferred web browser.)

Prefer to call in? After you schedule an appointment you can find the dial-in phone number in your meeting invitation. No download is required to use this method. Please note that there are limitations with dial-in calls (for example, sharing files, screens, and video chat can only be done over Microsoft Teams).

When scheduling 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 message 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 appointment.

How to prepare for your appointment

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." 
  • Search all forms, design guidelines and templates in the Documents area of our website. You can also find out which home improvement projects require permits.

For appointments held online:

  • Be prepared to share your computer screen and electronic project documents during your appointment in Microsoft Teams. 
  • Have a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access. 
  • Download Microsoft Teams (it is free) if you plan on attending the virtual meeting over your smartphone or tablet. (Users of desktop or laptop computers do not need to download Microsoft Teams and can join the meeting through a preferred web browser.)
  • The use of webcams during an online appointment is optional. 
  • City employees can share their computer screens for online meetings.

Learn more about using Microsoft Teams.

Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind:

  • No submittals of permit applications or plans will be accepted during these meetings, regardless of the meeting format.
  • Please arrive on time. Staff will cancel the appointment after five minutes of waiting.
  • Due to security concerns, we are currently unable to support the use of thumb drives, flash drives, and other media for in-person appointments at the Development Services Center. Staff assistance is provided to scan and digitize printed materials while we work towards a solution.

Select an appointment type:

Meet with a Permit Technician

These meetings are for questions about the overall permitting process or to discuss minimum submittal requirements (what you need to apply for a building permit).

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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a Permit Technician (in person)


Meet with a City Planner to ask zoning questions, tree code questions and more

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

Please note: In-person appointments with a city planner are offered only on Tuesday mornings. Online and phone appointments are available five days a week.

Get information before submitting construction permits or land use reviews. 

Choose an appointment type:

  • General zoning questions or tree code questions

    • 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 questions

    • Land division: How to divide an existing property to create additional lots, parcels, or tracts.
    • Lot confirmation: Verify if a lot has legal status as a property that 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 overlay: Review for projects in the "d" Design overlay zone or information about Design review.
    • Historic landmarks and districts: Review of alterations to existing historic resources, review of new development within designated districts, or information about Historic reviews. 
  • 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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a City Planner (in person)


Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer to ask questions about building code, engineering and site development

Building code reviewers can talk with you about building code requirements. Engineering reviewers talk with you about structural requirements. 

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 General Inquiries. 
  • 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 General Inquiries. 
  • 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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer (in person)


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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a Water expert (in person)


Meet with a Fire Safety expert

General fire safety questions around development and construction including:

  • Access and 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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a Fire Safety expert (in person)


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 the 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 (online or over the phone)

Book Now: Meet with a Transportation expert (in person)


Meet with an Urban Forestry Tree Technician

In development situations, the Urban Forestry division of Portland Parks & Recreation is responsible for reviewing Street, City, and Heritage trees. Urban Forestry reviews are conducted any time a development permit project is valued at $25,000 or greater and any time a Street, City, or Heritage tree may be impacted or removed by the development. For questions about private property trees in development and density requirements, please meet with a City Planner.

Staff from the Urban Forestry division can answer questions such as:

  • Can I get a permit to prune my street tree?
  • When are private property trees regulated in non-development?
  • If my property is in an environmental overlay zone or Plan District, are there special requirements?
  • How do I submit a tree permit application?

For answers to these questions and more, visit this web page, contact the Urban Forestry division by email or phone, or schedule an in-person appointment:

Please note: The Tree Hotline is not answered live. Please leave a message and you will receive a return phone call.

⏱ 15-minute question appointments

Book Now: Meet with an Urban Forestry Tree Technician (in person)


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.

Contact

General Inquiries

Development Services
phone number503-823-7300Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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