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About Oregon residential building permits

Building codes are designed to ensure safe building techniques. These important standards help protect your family from safety risks like structural failures, fire hazards caused by electrical and heating systems, and electrical shock. They also help eliminate costly repairs for shoddy work and save money in the long run.

Do I need a permit?

Oregon law requires you to obtain permits for a range of installations, alterations, and construction performed on your home to ensure that the work meets minimum building standards for safe workmanship. Permits are required for all new construction as well as for specific alterations to existing homes, which include structural, plumbing, mechanical and electrical changes. 

The person performing the work, whether it is a homeowner or contractor, is responsible for obtaining all necessary permits. Once the permit is issued, you can begin work. The permit must be on site and available to the inspector and if your permit has accompanying approved plans, they must be available as well.

Your permit expires if work is not started within 180 days from its issuance. Once you have begun work, your permit expires if work is suspended or abandoned for 180 days or more. If you cannot work within a 180-day period but do not wish to abandon the project, you need to submit a written request to extend your permit for an additional 180 days.

Keep in mind that the descriptions only apply to one- or two-family dwellings. If you still are not sure whether you need a permit, locate and contact the building department responsible for your area.

The following electrical improvements require a permit:

  • Install or alter any permanent wiring or electrical devices.
  • Run additional wiring; install a new or upgraded electrical outlet or light fixtures; install a receptacle for a garage-door opener; and convert from a fuse box to circuit breakers.
  • ​Repair broken or damaged outlets that have a ground fault circuit interrupter installed as a safety precaution.
  • Install or alter low-voltage systems like security alarms, stereo systems, or computer systems.

The following electrical repair and maintenance activities do not require a permit:

  • Replace or maintain broken or damaged electrical outlets, light fixtures, and light switches with a like replacement.
  • Replace approved fuses and defective breakers.
  • Replace light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.
  • Replace an existing garbage disposal and dishwasher, or similar appliance of 30 amps or less​.
  • Install low voltage wiring for garage door openers.
  • Install phone outlets, however wire must be listed as the proper type of insulated wire for the project.
  • Install coaxial cable for cable television (CATV), however must be listed as the proper type of insulated wire for the project.
  • Replace an existing doorbell.
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​A mechanical project consists of work on heating, cooling and ventilation systems, including bath vents and wood stoves. It also includes installation, alteration, or repair of gas piping between the meter or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank and equipment. The State Fire Marshal's licensing law requires anyone, i​ncluding homeowners, who install, extend, alter, or repair any LP gas appliance or piping, vent or flue connection must be licensed through them.

The following mechanical improvements require a permit:

  • Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney.
  • Install unvented decorative appliances, like a "gas log" or "Amish fireplace."​
  • Install a wood stove, fireplace insert, pellet stove or related venting.
  • Install, alter, or repair gas piping between the meter or LPG tank and an appliance, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Install bath fans, dryer exhausts, kitchen range exhausts and appliances that are required to be vented.
​​The following mechanical improvements do not require a permit:
  • Install portable heating appliances, cooking appliance, clothes dryers, cooling units, evaporative cooler and other portable appliances, such as freezers, washing machines, and refrigerators.
  • Install portable ventilation appliances such as room air cleaners and whole-house window fans.
  • Steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by the code, such as heating or cooling coils inside an air conditioner.
  • Replace any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make it unsafe.
  • Change furnace filters.
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A homeowner or firm performing the plumbing work must obtain a permit for the following plumbing improvements:

  • Replace water heaters, which are a type of pressure vessel and if it is not properly installed it can blow up. If a plumbing contractor is hired to perform the plumbing work, they may obtain a minor label permit (which allows a contractor to access a streamlined permitting system) for water heater replacement.
  • ​Alter piping inside a wall, ceiling or under a floor; and for plumbing in all new installations.
  • Emergency repair, alteration, or replacement of freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping, if new piping exceeds five feet.
  • Remodel or addition that requires existing plumbing to be relocated, including installation of building sewers, water service and rain drains that connect to wastewater collection system.
  • Plumbed water feature.

The following plumbing improvements and ordinary minor plumbing repairs do not require a permit:

  • Repair or replace a sink, toilet, faucet not concealed in a wall, countertops, shower heads, rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Resurface shower walls or regrout tile.
  • Add to or alter an irrigation system with an existing approved back flow device.
  • Install a water filter.
  • Replace a hose bibb.
  • Install a water feature or exterior hot tub that is filled by a hose.​
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A structural permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, or move a residential building or structure. Please contact your local building department if in doubt whether or not a particular home alteration/repair needs a permit. Structural improvements/repairs requiring a permit include but are not limited to:

  • Adding a room.
  • Building, demolishing, or moving a carport, garage or shed of more than 200 square feet.
  • Finishing an attic, garage, or basement to make additional living space.
  • Cutting a new window or door opening or widening existing openings.
  • Adding, moving, or removing walls.
  • Applying roofing when all of the old roofing is removed, and new sheathing/sub roof is installed.
  • Reroofing in wildfire hazard zones.
  • Building, installing, altering, or repairing:
    • A stairway.
    • a deck more than 30 inches above grade.
    • a fence more than seven feet high.
    • a fence to serve as a barrier around swimming pool, hot tub, or spas.

The following residential improvements do not require a permit:

  • Create uninhabitable one-story detached structures, such as sheds or playhouses, of less than 200 square feet and no higher than ten feet measured from the floor to the average height of the roof.
  • Install a fence six feet high or less.
  • Retaining walls less than four feet high as measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall that does not support earth above the top of the wall.
  • Install ground supported water tanks of less than 5,000 gallons with a height to diameter or width ratio that does not exceed 2 to 1.
  • Create private concrete sidewalks, slabs, and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Apply paint, paper, tile or other similar finish work on walls, floors, and ceiling, as well as carpet, cabinets, and countertops.
  • Install prefabricated swimming pools where the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade. Barriers around prefab-pools are not exempt from permits.
  • Install swings and other playground equipment.
  • Build patio and porch covers not over 200 square feet and supported by an exterior wall.
  • Install window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  • Erect nonbearing walls, except when such partitions create habitable rooms that are used for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking.
  • Repair or replace siding not required to be fire resistant.
  • Retrofit insulation.
  • Repair masonry.
  • Build porches and decks where the floor or deck is not more than 30 inches above the adjacent grade at any point and, in the case of a covered porch, the covered portion of the porch does not come closer than three feet to property lines.
  • Install gutters and downspouts.
  • Replace doors and windows with no structural changes.
  • Replace roofing where the weight of the replacement or repair does not exceed 30 percent of the roof's designed live load carrying capacity and is not required to be fire resistant.
  • Install plastic glazed storm windows.
  • Build framed-covered, uninhabitable accessory buildings not more than 500 square feet in area, one story in height and not closer than three feet to the property line, where the structure is composed of a rigid framework that supports a fabric membrane, such as a car port.​
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Commonly asked questions about obtaining permits

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