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Garages, Sheds and Accessory Structures Residential Building Permits

Apply online for a building permit. Get all required applications and forms for carport permits, garage permits, shed permits and cargo container permits. Find information on building permit inspections for garages, sheds and accessory structures. Everything you need for a complete application.

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When you need a permit 

You need a building permit to build, demolish or alter any carport, garage or shed that is:

  • greater than 200 square feet in area (measured from the interior side of the exterior walls)
  • or greater than 10 feet in height (measured from the finish floor level to the top of the wall’s top plate) 

Depending on the project, you may also need electrical, plumbing or mechanical permits. You don't need a building permit to build a non-habitable accessory structure that is 200 square feet or less in area. You may need a zoning permit.

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

Building permit application, information and forms to include with your application 

The following information is part of the application. This is everything you might need when applying for a garage, sheds and accessory structures permit. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information. Things you need to apply for this permit may include some or all of the following.

If you aren't sure what you need, contact Permitting Services. Permit forms and information include: 

Combination permits (if applicable)

Development Services sells a "Residential Combination" permit package. This allows you to call for all inspections using just the Building Permit (RS) IVR number and pay for all the permits at one time. You will need to submit any trade (mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing) application(s) signed either by you, if you are doing these portions of the work yourself, or by your licensed subcontractors. 

If you do not have your completed subcontractor forms when you are applying for your residential permit (RS) you will have to apply for trade permits separately from the building permit. Sub-contractors that you hire must be registered with the State of Oregon and carry the correct licenses in association with their trade.

Code and Rules

Permits are reviewed under multiple city and state codes including: 

  • Oregon Residential Specialty Code 
  • Portland City Codes 
    • Title 11 Tree Code 
    • Title 24 Building Regulations
    • Title 33 Zoning Code 

Other codes may apply based on the scope of work. Building Codes, Rules & Guides has links to the codes and administrative rules, code and program guides. 

Step 1: Important things to know 

Location on the lot

The Zoning Code, (City Title 33) includes regulations and development standards, such as maximum building coverage and setbacks, which will affect the size and placement of the structure on your property.

Call Planning and Zoning to determine your setbacks.

Fire walls and fire protection

The building code does not restrict placement of a structure on the lot, but it does require that if a structure is close to a property line, it must be constructed to a greater level of fire protection. Construction within three feet of a property line that you share with a neighbor (not a street or public alley) is required to be fire rated. See our handout on Eaves and Exterior Wall Protection: 

If your accessory structure is a garage and it will be attached to, or within three feet of the house, then the interior walls of the garage must be covered with a layer of ½" gypsum board for additional fire protection. Any openings (such as doors and windows) within this distance may be required to be protected, depending on the configuration. 

Building a garage

The City requires that a garage be accessed via a driveway. If you don’t currently have a driveway you will be required to put one in. The driveway will need to be paved if it is within 150’ of an improved public right-of-way. For additional information on paving surfaces, see Portland City Code, Title 24.45.020. The Zoning Code also includes requirements that may limit the width of a new driveway.

If your project requires construction in the public right-of-way, then Transportation will review the project and issue a separate transportation permit for this work as well. For more information about right-of-way requirements, contact the Portland Bureau of Transportation at (503) 823-7002.

Cargo containers

Sometimes, cargo containers can be used as accessory structures. These are challenging in that they too must meet all the requirements of the codes.

Residential engineering

Your project must be designed to meet all structural requirements in the building code. The construction drawings must show how both gravity and lateral (wind and earthquake) loads will be resisted. Please review our page on Residential Engineering for more information on these requirements.

Decommissioning a septic tank or cesspool

If the house was not connected to the sewer when it was built, you will likely need to decommission the cesspool or septic tank. If you are not sure, you can look at the historic plumbing records on Portland Maps.

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.

Step 1b: Still need help? Schedule a 15-minute appointment 

If you have questions after reviewing the information on this page, we recommend you book a free 15-minute appointment with us. 

This is an optional step. We're here for you if you have questions about the information and materials you need to apply. 

If you need help, here are some experts we recommend you meet with for this project*: 

Meet with a Permit Technician 

  • Schedule this appointment if you have questions about the permit process. Permit technicians will provide you with the information found on this page. 
  • Get help with permit application requirements. 

These are optional meetings. Only book if you have questions. 

Meet with a Permit Technician

Meet with a City Planner 

  • We recommend you meet with city planner about planning and zoning or tree code requirements before submitting building permits.  
  • Get information on rules that apply to your property. 

These are optional meetings. Only book if you have questions.

Meet with a City Planner

Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer

  • Get help with building code and engineering requirements. 
  • To submit a question by phone, call Building Code Plan Review.  

These are optional meetings. Only book if you have questions. 

Meet with a Building Code and Engineering Reviewer

Meet with a Water expert 

  • Find out if your project requires you to increase the size of your existing water meter. 
  • For development and construction related questions about water services. 

These are optional meetings. Only book if you have questions. 

Meet with a Water expert

Get help from the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) 

  • Questions about the sewer, waste line, or stormwater. 

These are optional meetings. Only book if you have questions. 

Get help from BES

*Not all review groups may be listed. The groups listed above will help get you started. 

Step 2: Apply for a garage, shed or accessory structure building 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

Some simple permits can be reviewed and issued quickly. Your plans will be sent to city review staff in different departments. Each staff person will review your plans with you to verify that the proposed construction meets requirements. If information is missing or if corrections are needed, you will be asked to update your plans. 

If the project is more complex and a review cannot be completed as a simple permit, your project will be considered complex. You will be sent a checksheet requesting any clarifications or corrections. For additional information on the review process, review the permit review process webpage

The Permit Review Process web page has more information about the groups who review permits. 

Step 4: 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 5: Get ready for garage, shed or accessory structure 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 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 information and additional reading 

More information you might find helpful:

Contact

Building Code Plan Review

Development Services

phone number503-823-1456

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

General Inquiries

Development Services

phone number503-823-7300

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

Permitting General Information

Development Services

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.