Projects That Do Not Require Permits

  • Some single-family home improvement projects don't require permits if the project doesn't encroach over a drain system, public utility easement or into required setbacks from property lines.

    The project must still comply with all applicable construction and zoning codes. When in doubt, call the Building Division at 503-618-2845.

    Permits are not required for: 

  • Building: Exterior
    • Non-habitable one-story detached accessory structures such as storage structures, playhouses, etc., provided the floor area doesn't exceed 200 square feet or a height of 10 feet measured from the finished floor to the average height of the roof surface.
    • Prefabricated swimming pools where the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade. Barrier requirements are not exempt. (A swimming pool barrier is required for any swimming pool, hot tub, spa or similar structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or immersion that contains water over 24 inches deep.)
    • Fences not over 6 feet high.
    • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall unless supporting a surcharge.
    • Private concrete sidewalks, slabs and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below.
    • 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 does not come closer than 3 feet to property lines.
    • Patio and porch covers not over 200 square feet and supported by a building exterior wall.
    • Replacement or repair of siding not required to be fire resistant.
    • Paint buildings that are not historic landmarks.
    • Reroofing except in wildfire hazard zones or where replacement or repair of roofing does not exceed 30 percent of the required live load design capacity and is not required to be fire resistant. (Reroofing of townhouses requires a permit.)
    • Repair/replace rain gutters, downspouts or masonry brick. (A permit may still be required for stormwater disposal.)
    • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one- or two-family dwelling.
    • 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.
    • Same size or like for door and window replacements where no structural member is changed.
    • Installation of plastic glazed storm windows.
    • Framed-covered, non-habitable accessory buildings not more than 500 square feet in area, one story in height, and not closer than 3 feet to the property line, where the structure is composed of a rigid framework that supports a fabric membrane.
    • Water tanks supported directly upon the ground if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons, and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
    Building: Interior
    • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, interior wall, floor or ceiling covering, and similar finish work.
    • Nonbearing partitions (walls) except when such partitions create habitable rooms. (Habitable rooms are used for living, sleeping, eating or cooking.)
    • Shelving or cabinets.
    • Retrofitted insulation.
    Electrical: Exterior and Interior

    Permits are not required for:

    • Removing and replacing broken or damaged electrical outlets like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes. If a GFCI protected outlet is required by code, a permit is required.
    • Removing and replacing broken or damaged light fixtures like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes.
    • Removing and replacing broken or damaged light switches like for like only. However, permits are required to install, upgrade or change outlets for decorative purposes.
    • Replacing approved fuses or defective breakers like for like only.
    • Replacing an existing garbage disposal, dishwasher, electric tank water heater, or similar appliance of 30 amps or less.
    • Installing low-voltage wiring for garage door openers.
    • Installing phone outlets or CATV (Community Access TV) however, wire must be listed type wire.
    Plumbing: Exterior
    • Adding to or altering an irrigation system with an approved backflow device. (Permits are required for installation of a backflow device.)
    • Replacing a hose bib.
    • Installing a fountain or other water feature that is filled by a hose.
    Plumbing: Interior
    • Repairing/replacing a sink, toilet or shower head.
    • Repairing/replacing a faucet if not concealed in a wall.
    • Resurfacing/replacing countertops, shower walls or re-grouting tile.
    Mechanical: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
    • Changing out furnace filters.
    • Portable heating appliances, cooking or clothes drying appliances.
    • Portable ventilation appliances, evaporative coolers and cooling units.
    • Steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by the code.
    • Replacing any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
    • Portable appliances, such as freezers, washing machines, refrigerators, portable barbecue grill, etc.
    • Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.