Learn about adding a fence to residential property in the City of Portland.
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.
To find out if a zoning permit is needed for a fence less than seven feet tall, call the Planning and Zoning phone number.
Your building permit will be reviewed under provisions in the Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC).
Important things to know about fence permits
Fences may be built on private property, so long as 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:
|Front Setback||20 feet||20 feet||20 feet||15 feet||10 feet||10 feet|
|Side/Rear Setback||10 feet||10 feet||10 feet||5 feet||5 feet||5 feet|
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 for help in locating property lines along a street. Property lines that divide your lot from your neighbors may be harder to find.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
How to submit your fence permit application
To schedule an appointment to submit your plans electronically (one permit submission per appointment), please email or call Schedule a Permit Intake Appointment and leave a message that includes the following information:
- Your name
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Description of the work
- Project address
We will respond as soon as possible via phone or email with confirmation of your appointment. We ask that you please do not call and send an email message as it can cause staff to book duplicate appointments. Thank you!
We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and emails. Please wait at least one week after submitting your application before sending a follow up call or email message.
During your appointment time, our staff will guide you through uploading your plans using a secure link we will provide. To file a permit application, you must upload a completed application and all submittal materials. Smaller projects will be submitted through the Single pdf process.
If you are unable to create electronic plans yourself, please call us and we will work with you.
Plan review process
The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical fence project are:
- Planning and Zoning Review
- Structural Review
- Site Development Review
Most fence permits can be reviewed and issued quickly. If your application is missing information, you will be asked to submit that information. Permit fees are due when the permit is issued. Fees may be paid by check, Visa or Mastercard.
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.
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.