Do You Need a Permit for Your Home Project?

Guide
Deconstruction workers climbing on top of a roof sheathing
When is a residential permit needed? When don't you need a permit for a 1 or 2 family home? Learn more about home repair permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, plumbing permits and zoning permits and work that needs a permit for a 1- or 2-family home.
On this page

The City of Portland also issues building permits for the City of Maywood Park. 

Residential permits are for one- and two-family homes

This home repair and remodeling permit information is for one-family and two-family homes.

Apartments and buildings with three units or more, called "commercial buildings", have different requirements. Learn more about projects that require permits for your business or commercial building.

Work that requires a residential building permit

*Note that all development work must comply with zoning requirements, whether or not it requires a building permit. Please visit the section above for work that requires a zoning permit.

Outside Projects

  • Add or enlarge a porch cover, patio cover, carport or other open-sided roofed structure with an area greater than 200 square feet that is attached to a house
  • Enclose a patio cover, porch or carport
  • Build a deck more than 30 inches high
  • Cut new window or door opening, widen or reduce the size of existing openings
  • Build or replace an exterior stairway more than 30 inches above adjacent grade or over any story or basement
  • Build a retaining wall that exceeds four feet high measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall or any retaining wall affected by the weight of an adjacent slope, or nearby driveway or structure
  • Put up a fence more than seven feet high
  • Move more than 10 cubic yards of earth
  • Pour concrete sidewalks, slabs and driveways more than 30 inches above adjacent grade or over any story or basement
  • Install a barrier around any swimming pool, or construct an in-ground swimming pool.
  • Replace roofing in a wildfire hazard zone or on a Townhouse
  • Reroof a house or duplex when more than 15% of the existing roof sheathing is being removed and replaced
  • Installation of solar panels or solar roof coverings.
  • Tree planting, preservation, or related requirements may apply to your project under Title 11, Trees (the Tree Code). To find out more about these regulations and how they affect your project please visit the Trees area or call 503-823-TREE (8733).

Get more information about how to apply on the Building and Zoning Permit Application page. And, read more about residential building permits.

Work that requires a zoning permit

*Note that all development work must comply with zoning requirements, whether or not it requires a building permit. 

  • Creating a new or enlarged parking area or driveway, or paving a graveled parking area.
  • Making any improvement required to resolve a code compliance case or demonstrate zoning compliance when development does not require a building permit, such as tree planting to meet tree density prior to land use approval.
  • Development that does not require a building permit but is required by a condition of a land use review approval, such as a historic resource review approval, design review approval, or an environmental review approval.
  • Proposing development that does not require a building permit but requires zoning compliance within some Plan Districts or Overlay Zones—such as Environmental overlay zones. 
    • Example: building a patio or deck in the environmental zones.

Get more information about zoning permits.

Work that requires a residential mechanical permit

  • Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system which has duct work or must be vented into any kind of chimney or vent
  • Install a wood stove or fireplace insert
  • Install, alter or repair gas piping between the meter and an appliance (indoors and outdoors)
  • Install a fuel oil tank
  • Install exterior heat pump or air conditioning condenser units

Read more about residential mechanical permits.

Work that requires a residential electrical permit

You must be both the owner and occupant of the home in order to do electrical work yourself. If the home is intended for sale, lease, rent or exchange in the near future, work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor. A permit is required to:

  • Install, change or repair any hard-wired electrical system
  • Run any additional wiring, put in an additional electrical outlet or light fixture, or change your fuse box to circuit breakers
  • Install or alter low voltage systems such as security alarms, central vacuum systems, or low voltage lighting
  • Add or replace electrical wall/baseboard heaters

Read more about residential electrical permits.

Work that requires a residential plumbing permit

  • Repair, replace, relocate or add to the piping system within your home
  • Install new plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, showers, tubs, dishwashers, etc.
  • Replace a water heater
  • Replace existing plumbing fixtures if the replacement involves concealed plumbing connections
  • Install rain drains, cesspools, septic systems, drywells, sewer lines, water lines, backflow prevention assemblies for lawn sprinkler systems or cap a sewer
  • Cap of fixtures that have been removed

Note: Adding a bathroom not only requires a plumbing and building permit, but may also require an electrical and/or mechanical permit.

Read more about residential plumbing permits.

Work that doesn't require a residential building permit

Some minor repairs and maintenance on one- or two-family homes don't require a building permit.

Even when a building permit is not required, the project must meet the Building and Zoning Code requirements. Learn about how zoning requirements in the section above.

Outside home repair projects that don't need permits 

  • Paint buildings
  • Install insulation in existing homes
  • Install storm windows
  • Install window awnings, not more than 54 inches deep and not in a design zone, that are supported by an exterior wall and do not project beyond the property line
  • Install gutters and downspouts (a plumbing permit may still be required for stormwater disposal)
  • Replace or repair siding that is not required to be fire resistive
  • Replace or repair roofing, including replacement of no more than 15% of the existing roof sheathing (a maximum of two layers of roofing is allowed), except if the structure is in a wildfire hazard zone or is a Townhouse.
  • Replace doors or windows if the existing openings are not widened or reduced in size
  • Install swings and other play structures
  • Build a fence up to seven feet high in compliance with Zoning Code requirements for fences (refer to the Fences brochure, or if the fence encloses a swimming pool) Fences, Decks and Outdoor Residential Projects (Brochure 3)
  • Pave a walkway
  • Build stairs, patio, or deck that is not more than 30 inches above grade
  • Build a shed or other non-habitable one-story detached accessory structure, provided that it is smaller than one which requires a residential building permit (see above). Note, if the parcel of land is over 2 acres and the structure is at least 20 feet from property lines and other structures, then a permit is not required when the building area is not over 400 square feet.
  • Repave driveways where expansion is not proposed
  • Build a patio or porch cover not over 200 square feet and supported by an exterior building wall
  • Construct a non-habitable accessory structure composed of a rigid frame covered with a fabric membrane that does not exceed 500 square feet in area, is only 1 story in height, and is not closer than 3’ to a property line

Please note: If your property is in a flood hazard area, additional requirements apply. Check out the Site Development webpage for more information or call General Inquiries to discuss your project.

Inside work that doesn't need permits 

  • Replace interior wall, floor or ceiling covering (such as wallboard or sheet vinyl)
  • Construct non-structural partitions where these do not enclose habitable space, such as for a closet.
  • Install shelving and cabinets
  • Remove and reinstall a toilet when installing new floor covering
  • Replace accessible plumbing fixtures to make emergency plumbing repairs or to replace freeze-damaged or leaking concealed plumbing pipes that are no more than five feet in length

Other types of permits

Work in the public right of way       

Any work in the public right-of-way requires a permit. Or, this work may be allowed by code if the conditions are met under the authority of Transportation. Please contact Transportation ("PBOT") for more information. 

Change of occupancy 

A change of occupancy requires a building permit.

Flagpoles         

Flagpoles require a building permit

Home business permits 

  • Home Occupation - Type A. Doesn't require a permit. Allows residents to use their home as place of work, but no customers or employees come to the house.
  • Home Occupation - Type B. Requires a Home Occupation Permit. Allows either one employee who does not live in the home or up to eight customers per day to come to the dwelling.

Noise: Make noise beyond allowed standards   

A noise permit is required if you plan to make noise above the allowed decibels and/or during non-construction hours/day. Read more about allowed construction hours.

Signs, A-boards, and banners     

Still not sure if you need a permit? 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. 

We're here for you if you have questions about the information and materials you need to apply. 

This web page is also available as a PDF: 

Contact

General Inquiries

Portland Permitting & Development
phone number503-823-7300Our front desk team will be available to answer Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please leave a message if you call outside of those hours.
Oregon Relay Service711Oregon Relay Service

Requests for Inspection

Permitting & Development
phone number503-823-7000Automated Line - Requires an IVR or permit number
Oregon Relay Service711Oregon Relay Service