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Fence Residential Building Permits

Learn about adding a fence to residential property in the City of Portland. Get all required forms for a residential fence permit and including the building permit application. Get information on fence inspections.

On this Page

Required applications and important handouts for a residential fence permit

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

Codes and Rules

Permits are reviewed under multiple city and state codes including: 

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 the Portland Bureau of 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. Permit Fee information.

Step 2: 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

Step 3: How to submit your fence permit application

Book a BDS Intake Appointment Online to schedule an appointment to submit your plans electronically (one permit submission per appointment).  You'll receive an email confirming your appointment time. You'll need to upload your completed permit application and all submittal materials before the appointment. A secure link will be provided in the email confirmation.

For most projects, electronic plans are submitted through the Single PDF process

Large scale projects such as commercial new construction are submitted though PDX E-plans and ProjectDox.

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

Step 4: Plan review process and checksheets

The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical fence project are:

  • Planning and Zoning Review
  • Life Safety
  • Portland Bureau of Transportation

If a reviewer needs more information, they will send a checksheet to the applicant requesting corrections or more information.  The plans will need to be updated and re-submitted with the checksheet response.

The permit review process webpage has more information.  You can check the status of the permit review on Portland Maps permit/case search.

Step 5: Permit Issuance

Most fence permits can be reviewed and issued quickly. Permit fees are due when the permit is issued. Fees may be paid by check, Visa or Mastercard.

Step 6: 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 7: Residential inspections, results and 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.

Not approved - there are some reasons why the work did not get approved:

  • no access - the inspector may not have been able to inspect the work
  • incomplete work
  • code violations

The inspector will list the corrections needed on the inspection report. 

Call for a reinspection after making the corrections. Use the same three digit inspection code.
If you make the corrections the same day wait until 5 pm to request a reinspection. The inspector needs to enter their results before you can schedule the reinspection.

There is a reinspection fee charged for more than one reinspection for a single issue.

Contact residential inspectors

If you have questions before your inspection, you can talk to an inspector. The 1 & 2 family inspector area map list the inspector's name, area, and phone number.   

Because of vacation or illness, your inspector may be different than the one listed on the map. If you have questions after your inspection, find out which inspector to call. Their contact information will be on the inspection results and on Portland maps.

Contact

General Inquiries

Development Services

phone number503-823-7300

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

Planning and Zoning

Development Services

phone number503-823-7526

Monday through Friday from 8 am - 5 pm. Leave a message with address and your questions.

Requests for Inspection and Inspection Results

Development Services

phone number503-823-7000

Automated Line - Requires an IVR or permit number

Schedule a Building Permit Application Appointment

Development Services

phone number503-823-4092

Call this number to leave a message. If you would like to schedule an intake appointment for a building permit, development review permit or zoning permit, click on the link below.