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About Oregon residential building permits

Residential Neighborhood in Oregon

Building codes are designed to ensure safe buildings.

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 and save money in the long run.

Oregon law requires you to obtain local permits for a range of installations, alterations, and construction performed on your home to ensure that the work meets minimum standards for safe construction.

Do I need a permit?

Oregon law requires you to obtain local permits for a range of installations, alterations, and construction performed on your home to ensure that the work meets minimum standards for safe construction. 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 request to the local building official for a permit extension.

Keep in mind that the general descriptions below only apply to detached 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.

Project-specific code questions should always be discussed directly with the local building department. Local permitting, zoning, land-use allowances, and alternate methods must be discussed exclusively with the local jurisdiction. Use the local building department directory to contact the local jurisdiction.

Local Building Department Directory

Permits required

​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.

Permits not required

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.

​A mechanical project consists of work on heating, cooling and ventilation systems, including bath vents and wood sto​ves. It also includes installation, alteration, or repair of gas piping between the meter or liquid petroleum gas (LP​​G) 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.

Permits required

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.

Permits not required

​​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.

Permits required

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 servi​ce and rain drains that connect to wastewater collection system.
  • Plumbed water feature.

Permits not required

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.​


​It is imp​ortant to keep in mind the following when you are assessing whether the proposed work requires a building permit:

  1. Work exempt from a buil​ding pe​rmit is not necessarily exempt from a mechanical, electrical or plumbing permit. Review the other dropdowns on this webpage for more information about those types of permits.
  2. Local land-use (planning/zoning) laws must always be considered FIRST. The building code tells you how to construct something while the local laws will tell you if you can construct something.
  3. Always start the discussion early with the local land-use authorities. There may be other local requirements that must be met prior to consideration of building.
  4. Work not meeting all parameters specified by a particular building permit exemption will require a local building permit.

Permits required

A building p​ermit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, or move a residential building or structure. Structural improvements and repairs requiring a local building permit include but are not limited to:

  • Adding a room.
  • Building or moving a carport, garage or shed of more than 200 square feet.
  • Adding, moving, or removing walls.
  • Finishing an attic, garage, or basement to make additional living space.
  • Cutting a new window or door opening or changing the dimensions of existing openings.
  • Applying roofing when all of the old roofing is removed, and all new roof sheathing is installed.
  • Building, installing or altering:
    • A stairway to the primary door or to porches and decks more than 30 inches above grade.
    • A deck more than 30 inches above grade.
    • A fence serving as a barrier around swimming pool, hot tub, or spas.

​Permits not ​required

The following residential improvements do not require a building permit:

  • Building an accessory structure, such as a shed or garage, that is nonhabitable, detached, one-story, less than 200 square feet or less than 15 feet measured from the floor to the average height of the roof.
  • Building a patio, porch or deck cover not more than 200 square feet in area or 12 feet in average roof height, and not closer than three feet to any property line.
  • Building a porch or deck where the floor or deck is not more than 30 inches above the adjacent grade at any point.
  • Installing a fence made of wood, wire mesh, or chain link less than seven feet in height.
  • Creating a private concrete sidewalk, slab, or driveway not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Applying paint, paper, tile or other similar finish work on walls, floors, and ceiling, as well as carpet, cabinets, countertops or similar finish work.
  • Installing a prefabricated swimming pool where the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade. Barriers around prefab-pools are not exempt from building permits.
  • Installing window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  • Erecting interior walls that are nonbearing, except when creating habitable rooms that are used for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking, or when creating new toilet rooms or bathrooms.
  • Repairing or replacing siding not required to be fire resistant.
  • Retrofitting or installing insulation.
  • Repairing masonry.
  • Installing gutters and downspouts.
  • Replacing doors and windows with no structural changes.
  • Replacing roofing where the weight of the replacement or repair does not exceed 30 percent of the roof's required live load design capacity and is not required to be fire resistant.
  • Building or replacing membrane-covered frame structures, that are nonhabitable accessory buildings not more than 500 square feet in area, one story in height and not closer than three feet to the property line.
  • Repairs using like materials or materials meeting new construction requirements that do not include any of the following:
    • Cutting away of any wall.
    • Removing or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support.
    • Removing or cutting of any required means of egress/exiting.
    • Rearranging any parts of a structure affecting the egress/exiting requirements.​​​

Please contact your local building department if you are in doubt of whether or not a particular home alteration or repair needs a permit.

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