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Fence Residential Building Permits

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Apply for a fence permit online. Learn about adding a fence to a residential property in Portland. Get all required application forms and information you need for a complete fence permit application. Get information on fence inspections and setbacks. Find all the steps for getting fence permits.
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Tall Wooden Fence

What you need for a fence permit

The following information must be submitted when applying for a permit to construct a fence. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information.

  • Building Permit Application for Building, Site Development and Zoning Permits 
  • Site plan 
    • Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”=10’ or 1/4”=1’
    • Property lines, with dimensions
    • Adjacent streets and any easements
    • Property address and R number
    • North arrow
    • Distance between buildings and between buildings and property lines
    • Dimensions and placement of the new fence on the lot
  • Structural plans 
    • Scale of plans to be ¼”=1’
    • Foundation plan showing location and size of footings and posts
    • Elevation view showing fence framing including dimensions, lumber size, spacing, footing size/depth and span
    • Connections to existing construction

Report a problem about a fence 

If you need to report a problem about a fence, check out the Report a Code Violation page.

Who can do the work

Contractors must have a license to work in Oregon. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) issues licenses to contractors. The permit application and their company materials must list the license number. Need help finding a contractor? The CCB website has good tips on how to search for one. Plumbing and Electrical contractors have additional license requirements.  

If you are doing the work yourself, then you can sign the trade permit applications. You cannot do any electrical work yourself. You must hire a licensed Electrical Contractor to do any electrical work. The State of Oregon has some helpful information for homeowners: 

Building permit application 

You might want to read our step-by-step guide for completing a building permit application

Step 1: Research your property and what you need for your project

How to check the permit history for a house 

Depending on the age of your house, we may have the permit history for your house. It is important to verify the permit records, and not rely on the tax information from the county assessor’s office. 

Some records are available online, visit the How to Request Public Property Records webpage.

Codes and Rules

Permits are reviewed under multiple city and state codes including: 

Other codes may apply based on the scope of work. The City and State Codes, Administrative Rules, Code Guides and Program Guides web page has the codes, administrative rules, code guides and program guides.

When a fence building permit is needed

You need a building permit when building a fence taller than seven feet. Measure the height from the ground where the posts or supports enter the ground to the top of the fence. Include any lattice, posts or any other material added to the top. Fences seven feet in height or less do not need a building permit (unless enclosing a swimming pool) but may need a zoning permit.

Planning and Zoning

Before getting started, contact Planning and Zoning to find out what is allowed on your property. There are rules about maximum fence heights and required setbacks that could impact your project.

Setbacks

Fences may be built on private property, as long as they are not located within the public right of way and they meet certain height and setback requirements. A setback is the distance measured from your property line to a point inside the property. A setback creates a border inside your property lines.

Setback requirements are different in each residential zone. A front setback is usually larger than the side and rear setbacks. For purposes of determining setback, the front is the side that borders a street. On a corner lot, the front is the shortest side of the lot that borders a street. If the street frontages are of equal length, you may choose which to call the front.

Call the Planning and Zoning phone number with help:

  • Identifying the zone where the property is located
  • Determining the setback requirements for the project
  • Identifying any requirements if the property is located in a design, greenway or overlay zone

Fences taller than eight feet must meet the requirements listed below:

ZoneRFR20R10R7R5R2.5
Front Setback20 feet20 feet20 feet15 feet10 feet10 feet
Side/Rear Setback10 feet10 feet10 feet5 feet5 feet5 feet

Swimming Pool Barriers

Barriers around swimming pools or spas require additional protection. Requirements for these barriers are found in Appendix G of the Oregon Residential Specialty Code, and general information is contained in the “Swimming Pools” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects.

Construction Requirements

Find structural, material, and construction requirements contained in the “Fences” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects. It is important to know that some fences (as outlined in the brochure) require structural design and calculations done by an engineer licensed to practice in Oregon to be submitted with the permit application drawings.

Front Yard Fences

If you plan to build a fence in your front yard, call Transportation/Engineering at (503) 823-7002 to determine if the location is within the public right of way.  

Permit Fees

Permit fees are based on the type of permit, the work proposed, the valuation of the work, and the staff that need to review the work. 

Still need help? Schedule a 15-minute appointment 

This is an optional step. If you still need help, we are here for you if you have questions about the information and materials you need to apply. You can schedule a free 15-minute appointment with any of these reviewers:

  • Meet with a City Planner to receive information about planning and Zoning and Tree Code requirements that apply to your property. 
  • Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer toget help with building code and engineering requirements. 
  • Meet with a Permit Technician if you have questions about the permit process or if you need help with application requirements.

If you need help, these are experts we recommend you meet with for this project. Not all review groups are listed. The groups listed above will help get you started. 

Step 2: How to apply for a fence permit

You can submit your permit application request online using Development Hub PDXRead step-by-step instructions for submitting a permit application request online or in person. 

For most projects, electronic plans are submitted through the Single PDF process. Large projects such as commercial new construction are submitted though PDX E-plans and ProjectDox.

If you are unable to create electronic plans, please call us and we will work with you.

Step 3: Plan review process and checksheets

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 4: Get your fence permit 

We review and issue most fence permits quickly. Permit fees are due when the permit is issued. Fees may be paid by check, Visa or Mastercard.

Step 5: Start building and get ready for inspections

An Inspection card will be provided, which  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 6: Schedule an inspection, get inspection results and make 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. 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 residential inspectors about your permit inspections

If you have questions before or after your inspection, you can talk to an inspector.

More about residential fence permits

Read more about decks, fences and other outdoor projects:

Contact

Building Code Plan Review

Development Services

Oregon Relay Service711 Oregon Relay Service

General Inquiries

Development Services

phone number503-823-7300

Monday through Friday from 8 am - 5 pm. Leave a message with detailed information.

Oregon Relay Service711 Oregon Relay Service

Requests for Inspection

Development Services

phone number503-823-7000

Automated Line - Requires an IVR or permit number

Oregon Relay Service711 Oregon Relay Service

Zoning Information Line

Development Services

phone number503-823-7526

Monday through Friday from 8 am - 5 pm. Leave a message with a phone number, the project address, and your questions.

Oregon Relay Service711 Oregon Relay Service