Building Official Determination: Accessory Kitchens in Single Family Dwellings

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QUESTION: Can a single-family dwelling have more than one kitchen?
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January 6, 2020

Building Official Determination: Accessory Kitchens in Single Family Dwellings
ORSC 202 Definition of Dwelling Unit

The Bureau of Development Services has a new Building Official Determination that clarifies the requirements for when an accessory kitchen can be built within a single-family dwelling unit. It also includes an example of the covenant that would be required as part of the approval of the additional kitchen.

QUESTION: Can a single-family dwelling have more than one kitchen?

RESPONSE: The Oregon Residential Specialty Code doesn’t limit the number of kitchens in a single-family dwelling. However, the 2017 ORSC defines a dwelling unit as, “A single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.” (ORSC R202). BDS seeks to avoid illegal conversions of single-family dwellings into duplexes or multi-family structures. Such conversions create fire and life safety issues for the residents because the structures do not comply with the ORSC requirements for multiple dwelling units in a single structure or attached structures. In order to accomplish this goal, BDS will require a building permit to install a new kitchen within a single-family dwelling and will impose certain conditions outlined in this document. In order to install an additional kitchen:

  1. The accessory kitchen may be located in a portion of the building that would meet the definition of a dwelling unit only if that portion of the building is not and will not be separated from the rest of the building by walls or closing a door.

  2. The accessory kitchen may not be located in a detached structure with a bathroom.

  3. Any additional accessory kitchen installed in a single-family dwelling must comply with all of the same Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Code requirements as the main kitchen.

  4. The home owner must complete and record an “Additional Accessory Kitchen Covenant” prior to a building permit being issued. That Covenant is the property owner’s acknowledgment that the structure will remain a single-family dwelling and that the accessory kitchen will not become part of an additional dwelling unit without obtaining a building permit for the creation of the additional dwelling unit. A copy of the recorded Covenant must be provided to BDS as a condition of permit Issuance.

NOTE: This Building Official Determination may not be utilized for structures containing Accessory Dwelling Units, structures that are considered a duplex or multifamily structures per the ORSC.

Read the full Building Official Determination which also includes the Covenant:

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