FAQ - Building


  • Are plans for residential sprinkler permits required to be stamped by a registered architect or engineer?
    • Not if there are three units or less.
  • Are state codes applied consistently by local agencies?
    • Yes. We regularly meet with other Building Officials to make sure all jurisdictions interpret codes and regulations consistently.
  • Do I have to have an architect, or may I draw plans myself?
  • Do I need a permit for a deck if it is ground level?
    • No but remember to check with our Current Planning staff to see what the setback requirements are. Call 503-846-8761.
  • Do I need engineering for a free-standing sign?
    • Yes, if the sign height is greater than 6 feet from the bottom of the supporting footing to the top of the sign.
  • Do I need to get a permit to move a wall in a commercial building?
    • Yes. Moving walls can change of a path of egress or reduce the integrity of a fire-rated wall or corridor. Permits are required.
  • Does staff redesign or re-engineer projects?
    • No. Under state statute, we are not allowed to provide design assistance. We identify things that do not meet codes. If you believe staff is redesigning projects, please notify our Building Official.
  • Must jurisdictions review plans? Why not just accept the design professional's submitted plan?
    • Jurisdictions are required by the state to enforce the building codes. We are trained and certified by the state in an array of state codes. We closely with the design community to make sure buildings meet the state's minimum code standards.
  • What happens if there is a difference of opinion about code requirements?
    • When we find items on plans that do not comply with code, we provide the relevant governing code citation. Since our engineering review guidelines allow for interpretations by design engineer, if there is a conflict in opinion that is not clear in the code, we defer to the design engineer's determinations.
  • What information needs to be shown on my plans?
    • Foundation plan, floor plans, at least two complete cross sections in opposing directions, roof plan, four elevation views and energy compliance forms.
  • What is the role of the plan review staff?
    • Unlike design professionals who submit the plans, plan reviewers are only concerned with compliance requirements of the codes. Their job is to ensure that submitted plans meet the state's adopted minimum code standards.
  • What size shed can I put up in my backyard without a permit?
    • Anything under 200 square feet and under 10 feet in height from the finished floor level to the average height of the roof does not require a permit. Check with Current Planning on setbacks requirements.

Building - Mechanical

  • Can I get a permit for a roof top unit replacement over the counter?
    • Permits for smaller units are frequently issued over the counter, with appropriate documentation. If the unit weighs over 400 pounds, we must ensure the supporting structure can accommodate the loading.

Building – Plumbing

  • Can I disconnect my kitchen sink and bath/shower and use the water to water my garden?
    • No. Oregon code does not have a code allowing this. Gray water must be treated either through a public system or a health department-approved septic system.
  • Can I do my own plumbing work on my one-or two-family dwelling?
    • Yes. As the owner of a one-or-two family dwelling, you can either hire a licensed plumbing contractor or do the plumbing work yourself. A friend, neighbor, tenant, general contractor or other person cannot legally do the plumbing work unless he or she is a licensed plumber working on behalf of a licensed plumbing contractor.

      All materials (pipe, pipe fittings, fixtures and other devices used in plumbing systems) must be listed and approved for their specific uses. This is especially important when installing materials that come into contact with drinking water.

      If you hire a plumbing contractor, ask for his or her business registration and license number of any journeyman plumber performing work. Plumbing contractors must also be registered with the Construction Contractors Board.
  • Can I use rainwater collected from my roof to water my garden or flush my toilets?
    • Yes. Appendix M of the Plumbing Code allows for potable and non-potable use of rainwater on commercial and residential properties.
  • When do I need a permit for plumbing work?
    • Permits are required for:
      • Replacement of water heaters and underground piping; altering piping inside a wall or ceiling, or beneath 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 5 feet.
      • Remodel or additions to one-or-two family dwelling when existing plumbing is to be relocated, including building sewers, water service and exterior drains.
  • When is a plumbing permit not required?
    • It's not required when you do "ordinary minor repairs" to plumbing systems on your own property, which means repair, replacement or maintenance of existing accessible fixtures, parts, and appliances and their related water and drain attachments. Do not alter the complete existing plumbing system without a permit.